We start reading the Mark today. And, I’m excited. I love Mark! I don’t really know why I do; I just do. I pray you will learn to love it as well.
As a Gospel writer, Mark tells the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. In this way he is very much like Matthew, Luke, and John. Like them, he wants us to know the story of Jesus. But, Mark goes about telling this story in a different way than his counterparts. They build Jesus’ story on a firmly laid foundation of family and genealogical roots (Matthew and Luke) or of theological understanding (John). Mark does none of that. He jumps right in. He doesn’t have time for introductory material because he wants to introduce the story’s hero to us. That’s all he cares about — Jesus: who he is and why he came. So, he starts at the beginning, the actual beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.
The Beginning of the Gospel
Mark opens his Gospel with a familiar sentence — “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” This sentence holds the key to understanding Mark’s purpose and to rightly interpreting the Gospel as Mark records it. This key is found in the word “gospel.”
“Gospel” is not a new word for most of us. We have some type of understanding of its meaning. We would probably say, when asked what “gospel” means, something along the lines of “the good news of Jesus Christ.” We may even define it more in terms of a message, i.e., the Christian gospel. And, we would be right. That’s a satisfactory and workable definition of “gospel.”
Mark, however, takes it deeper and gives it a more personal meaning. When Mark uses “gospel” he connects it to God’s faithful fulfillment of his promises to save his people from their sins and to restore them to a right relationship with himself and each other by miraculously and graciously intervening in their lives in an act of salvation. This act, this faithful fulfillment of God’s promises centers on the life of Jesus, but more than that, it is Jesus himself. Jesus is the gospel. It’s more than a story; it’s more than a message; it’s Jesus!
Reading Mark and Living Life Appropriately
In Romans 6, the Apostle Paul writes that we (Christians) are united to Christ Jesus in his life, death, and resurrection through faith. We are, then, living the gospel. It’s not just the knowledge of a story (though knowledge is important), or the acceptance of a message. It is a life lived in union with Jesus through faith. As you read Mark, think about it in those terms. Read it in a way that understands that Jesus is the gospel, and we are united to him through faith. Life with Jesus is the blessing of the gospel. Live that out today.
Take a walk around your town, around your work place, and look for a divine opportunity to touch someone with the grace and mercy of God. Look for a divine opportunity to speak a gentle word of encouragement or truth to someone. Look for a divine opportunity to pray for someone, and then tell them that you prayed for them.