|The Gospel of Mark
What comes to mind when you hear names and words like Jesus Christ, Son of God, Son of man, Simon Peter, the gospel, a disciple, miracles? Based on your own life story, you bring a certain understanding and expectation to the conversation when you hear these words and names.
But what if you lived in the dominant and immoral Roman Empire in the first century and Christianity was just a fledgling movement of assorted types of people making astonishingly ridiculous claims about some guy named Jesus from a hick village in Galilee? Would you take seriously the claims and teachings of a self-proclaimed Messiah who was executed for criminal activity and his audacious claims considered blasphemy by the religious elite?
The earliest and shortest biographical story of Jesus comes from a guy who was heavily influenced by Peter, one of the inner circle followers of Jesus, but who also abandoned his post on the missionary team of the first century powerhouse church planter and theologian named Paul.
Mark exists and writes to followers who live in an empire already hostile toward Christians that allows the destruction of the iconic Jewish Temple and whose evil emperor blames Jesus followers for torching Rome (rumor has it he lit the match himself).
Mark’s purpose for writing? Tell the story of Jesus in a way that convinces his readers a crucified Messiah is worth following while also recognizing following Jesus (discipleship) can be quite difficult and life-threatening.
This gospel is not for the faint of heart. Mark asks tough questions. He highlights those who do not understand this strange God-man named Jesus. He spotlights those who are afraid of his uncanny powers, those who abandon and betray him, those who burnout and washout, and those who weep over their failures and sins. He tells these stories with precision. And He emphasizes these stories because his story, and the story of his mentor, sound compellingly similar.
He highlights these stories because these are the types of people who followed Jesus and who were loved by Jesus.
Mark takes us on a journey filled with urgency, suspense, secrecy, and anticipation to understand who Jesus is and what it means to be His disciple. His gospel is unique but powerful. And this journey into the life and story of Jesus through the storytelling of Mark may just change the course of our lives both in the here and now and for all eternity … like it did for Mark. Buckle up!