The gospel of Mark begins with the radical, wild John the Baptist, “Proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mark 1:4, New International Study Bible) The writer of this gospel, possible Mark, who wrote down the life of Jesus through the experiences of Peter begins writing, “Good News.” In the same way it is unknown who the author was addressing, possibilities are the Gentiles who indeed would be grateful for the good news. This makes sense in the simple way he tells the stories of Jesus, and the details he adds, like, the cushion where Jesus lays His head during the raging storm a symbol of complete rest. John Mark a friend of the Apostle Peter simplified the stories with emotion for the Gentles, whom lived without the Jewish history. In the first eight chapters of Mark the identity of Jesus is Rabbi, teacher, and a servant to the people healing, casting out demons and evil spirits, He preaches and confronts opposition with authority.
The Identity of Jesus
The Gospel of Mark says Jesus is Teacher who has authority to command the unclean spirits, written in Mark 1:27 and the wind and sea obey Him in Mark 4:39, He rebuked the weather. Mark addresses all these questions about who Jesus is, when he eats with the tax collectors. Disciples arguing for position, who is better, and Mark writes on how the disciples again and again are not getting who Jesus is. However, not until Peter confessed that Jesus is the Christ is it somewhat clear to the disciples.
In Mark 1:11, after Jesus is baptized by John, a voice from heaven declares, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” It is clear the heavens know the identity of Jesus. Later in Mark 1, after Jesus calls His disciples, a man with an impure spirit address Jesus, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:11, NIV) The heavens and the demons know that Jesus is God. Jesus quiets the demon to keep His identity secret. Jesus is known to the disciples as a teacher, until halfway through, in Mark 8:27-33, do we hear the story of Jesus asking Peter, “Who do you say I am?” and then Peter declares, “You are the Messiah.” This when Jesus begins to share about the suffering and rejection that is to take place.
Core Issues of religious Rulers
The religious leaders rejected Jesus’ as the Messiah. They continued to try and trip Him up with questions of authority. The core issue of the religious rulers was the issue of power. They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay the imperial tax[b] to Caesar or not? Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” (Mark 12:14-15, NIV) The rulers asked a hot question, an answer either way would show Jesus to choose sides in a political hot button on taxes. However, Jesus takes a coin and inspects the in the inscription of Caesar and his picture. “Then Jesus said to them, ‘Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”” In Mark 1:23-26, 3:7-12, 5:1-20 and 9:14-19, show the rising hate conflict with the Scribes and Pharisees.
Main Themes of Mark
Mark 9 begins to point to Jerusalem and Jesus calls the disciples to be at peace with each other. If they are not against us they are for us. Mark 10:44-45 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus will suffer and He tells His disciples, however, they do not understand, and sometimes avoid that there will be suffering. Like when Peter began to rebuke Jesus in Mark 9.
Enduring hardship and suffering, and humility seem to be the theme in two ways. The first way is how Mark shows the fumbling of the disciples and the need for humility The disciples can’t get it right, they push the children away, they have no peace during the storm, they have no faith in Jesus to feed the crowd of five thousand. They do not understand His parables, and are unperceptive as in verses 4:41, 6:51-52; 8:14-21. They betray Jesus when they fall asleep instead of pray, Judas sells Jesus for pieces of silver and Peter denies knowing Jesus. The disciples are focused on themselves, which is shown in verses, 8:32; 9:32–34; 10:35–41, and as they walk with Jesus they suffer not knowing, mocking, in their own sin. Mark emphasizes the need to preserve and endure persecution. Abiding in Jesus through the word of God in the book of Mark is the Good News of triumph in hardships and in our sin.
Mark’s themes are tough, but they’re also rewarding. First, Mark highlights the need for humility. And second, it emphasizes the need to endure persecution. The good news is that Jesus’ life shows the triumph that comes from abiding by these themes—triumph for his disciples, and also, triumph for you. The ending of Mark does not record the recovery of Peter or the reconciliation of the eleven with Jesus as in Matthew 28:18-20. Mark does not have closure in a large, joyous sense, perhaps it is in the suffering where Mark finds a deep joy that comes with tears and loss that surpasses the happy people in the world. Everyone suffers and the book of Mark is a great gift.
Crucifixion and Resurrection
Mark emphasis the suffering of Christ is dramatic, because the disciples just don’t seem to acknowledge that Jesus will have to die. Even when the woman comes in and empties the expensive perfume onto Jesus’ feet, Jesus explains that she has anointed Him for His burial. The disciples never ask Jesus, what He is talking about. The details of the suffering of Jesus and abandoned by His friends and all the people is as if Mark watched and knew more of the suffering than the other gospel writers. In Mark 16:38,“The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” The climax of the book of Mark is a declaration from a centurion, that Jesus is the Son of God. It was in the death and suffering before Jesus had risen that it is proclaimed by not even someone who was close to Jesus, perhaps only heard of Him sees the truth.
Jesus has conflict with the Pharisees and Scribes and with demons, He suffers rejection, betrayal of a dear, loved friend, and suffers horrific slow painful death. Jesus is near to the broken hearted, the one who suffers. Jesus is near to those who are in conflict with others because of their faith. Mark is a wonderful book, I think now my favorite one, because I loved how he weaved two stories into one, the twelve year old who was dying and the women who had bled for years. I enjoyed the secrecy of His identity and the understanding of the disciples just not getting it. Of course it relates to many today who read and know the stories, but do not get it yet. It shows that it is okay not to get it and Jesus loves us even when they don’t get it, because we will not get it fully until we meet with Him again.