BYLINE: MARK

Introduction

If you want the “front-page” Jesus, Mark describes him. Mark writes as a news reporter would covering the top news of the day. While Matthew, Luke and John feature the philosophical side of Jesus, Mark tells the story of the Jesus the people of the culture wanted to hear about when they picked up the daily scroll at the newsstand. Even if he was in today’s culture of ambulance chasing, paparazzi, and human failures, Mark’s Jesus would be trending on social media.

It is likely that Mark wrote about the accounts of Jesus as told by the apostle Peter. In the cultural setting of first-century Rome, believed to be where the gospel was written, Mark probably had to transcribe Peter’s account in order to prove to readers that Jesus had supernatural powers. It would not be hard to refute Peter’s influence on Mark because Peter tended to be hot-headed and wanting a ruler to overthrow Roman rule. He was likely drawn, at least partly, to Jesus’ power.

Of the four Gospels, it seems that Mark’s gets the least amount of attention even though it is believed to be the first of the four gospels actually penned, albeit 60 years after the ascension of Jesus. Maybe it gets slighted because Mark does not extensively detail Jesus’ teaching but tends to focus on his God-given authority. Mark wrote in order to remind his audience that Jesus possessed the remarkable power of God, not just a lot of (very) meaningful philosophy. Mark simply tells us what fascinates us about the God-Man. We look to the other three gospels for Jesus’ miraculous birth, more philosophies, and the quotable phrases.

It should not be surprising that Matthew and John devote more time to the teaching of Jesus since they were eye-witnesses to his ministry and his words may have struck a louder cord with the two of them. Where Matthew devotes three chapters to the Sermon on the Mount, for example, Mark devotes only one of the first five chapters to parables. To further the notion that Mark wrote to exonerate the power of the Son of God, there is no record in his gospel of the Sermon on the Mount, the longest oratory of Jesus in the gospels. In the first five chapters alone, there are at least 15 occasions where Jesus healed, drove out evil spirits, or challenged the religious leaders.

First-century Greeks and Romans were attracted to all philosophies and gods. In fact, the Romans had an “unknown” god just to make sure that they didn’t leave out any deities. So, they likely found the teachings of Jesus in the other three gospels compelling but they may have questioned his power and it was power that garnered respect. For modern application, God knew that 2,000 years later we would likely forget about His power through Jesus (along with many of his teachings). As it was in the first century, Jesus likely delivered lengthy sermons that were not recorded because transcribing in the first century wasn’t as easy as sitting down at a computer.

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About The Christian Culture

Understanding the past, present and future cultural applications of the Bible. Using that understanding to better live out Mattew 28:19-20.
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