Mark's Perspective On Jesus

Mark begins his Jesus story with the words, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God." Then, after briefly mentioning John (the baptist), he jumps to the baptism and temptation of Jesus. For Mark, that's the beginning.

But what about the Christmas story? Where is the manger? What about the wise men? The shepherds? The angelic visitors? What about tiny Jesus in his golden fleece diapers with his tiny little fat balled up fists... oh wait. My bad. That's the gospel according to Ricky Bobby.


He likes the baby version the best, and he wins the races and he gets the money.

Mark just isn't interested in the birth of Jesus. For Mark, the beginning of the Jesus story isn't about the beginning of his life but the beginning of his ministry. That's when the gospel begins.

Let's talk about the word "gospel" for a minute. The Greek word is euangelion. This isn't a word the Church invented. Lots of people used this word back then. Not like today. Today, if you hear the word "gospel" it's probably in a religious context. Most of us don't use it in everyday conversation. But back then, all sorts of people used it. It was a compound word that meant "good news." Sometimes you'll see it translated that way in Mark 1:1. It might mean the good news of a victory in battle or maybe the good news of the birth of a child. The most famous use of euangelion (outside of the New Testament) is a letter that describes the birth of Augustus (you know, as in Caesar Augustus, the one mentioned in Luke 2:1). The letter talks about "the beginning of the euangelion (good news) for the world." Woah. Now that is very similar to the words in Mark 1:1. Mark comes along and uses a word that people knew, and says, "You think you know good news? You think victory in battle is good news? You think the birth of a Caesar is good news? I'll tell you about good news." Gospel wasn't just a church word. Mark spoke in a language the people understood.

I like to think of Mark as the gospel for the normal guy. Mark's gospel is the shortest, so if you don't like to read you might start with his. The Greek is somewhat... shall we say, unrefined? Mark uses kai a lot, especially at the start of a new story. "Kai" is just a word that means "and," but sometimes it's translated "then." Mark tells the story of Jesus the way my son told me about the latest Star Wars movie when he was 6 years old. "And then...! And then...! And then...!" Mark has no concern for creative transitions. Sorry, English teachers.

My favorite thing about Mark is his use of the phrase "son of God." We've already seen one occurrence, in Mark 1:1. A few verses later, in Mark 1:11, God acknowledges Jesus as his son after Jesus is baptized (God does it again in Mark 9:7). In Mark 3:11, evil spirits recognize Jesus for who he is and cry out, "You are the son of God!" That's pretty much it. Mark introduces him as the son of God to start the story, and then only the supernatural recognize him for who he is. Humanity remains clueless.

Until his crucifixion. Jesus is on the cross. Darkness falls over the land. He cries out to God, "Why have you forsaken me?" Jesus takes his last breath and the curtain of the temple is torn in two.

A Roman centurion stands in front of the cross, in front of a lifeless Jesus. This Roman centurion (a Gentile, if you will) says, "Surely this man was the son of God." Mark wants it to be known that a Gentile recognized Jesus for who he was, when no one else on earth did.

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