INTRODUCTION TO MARK’S GOSPEL
Mark, also known as John Mark, is believed to be the ‘young man’ mentioned in Mark 14:51,52. This puts him in the company of Jesus and his disciples. He was also a companion of Peter and of Paul. His gospel is believed to be the first of the four gospels to be written, and to be the basis of much material in Matthew and Luke.
Most of the books written about Mark's gospel tell us that Mark presents the human Jesus, that in the gospel of Mark we see Jesus the man. But, when we let Mark speak for himself we see from his very first sentence that his focus is very definitely on Jesus as the Son of God: ‘The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God’ (1:1).
To Mark, the question of the reality of Christ's humanity was irrelevant. Everyone knew he was a man. When Mark wrote, no one disputed that. The thing that impressed Mark, the thing which the people of his day disputed, and the thing that he wishes to impress upon his readers, is the fact that this real man was also God. So he presents him to us as ‘Jesus Christ, the Son of God.’ Having introduced Jesus to us in this way Mark proceeds through his Gospel to give us one demonstration after another to validate Jesus' right to this exalted title.
[Historical note: While many people today are so familiar with Jesus being called ‘the Son of God’ that its significance is lost to us, this was not the case in the time of Jesus and the disciples. To the Jews, to be the Son of God was to be equal with God; for a man to claim divine sonship was blasphemy against God. It is into this setting, this mindset, that Mark lays it down right at the beginning: Jesus is the Son of God.]
As we see Jesus striding through the Gospel of Mark with all the power and authority of God we are confronted with the challenge: how will we respond to this one who is God? What will we do when confronted by him? Will we recognise him and submit to him in repentance, faith and obedience? Or, will we refuse to admit that this man is God, and reject his right to stand in authority over us?
Mark doesn’t ask us this question. For him it is so obvious that it does not need asking. The facts about Jesus demand our response.
The following resources were consulted during the preparation of these studies:
Cole, R.A.: Gospel According to Mark, Tyndale, Beford Square, 1961.
Cranfield, CEB: The Gospel According to ST Mark, University Press, Cambridge, 1966.
Douglas, JD, Ed: New Bible Dictionary, IVP, Bedford Square, 1962.
Vine, WE: Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, Oliphants, London, 1966