The Gospel of Mark
Jun 14, 2019 · Courtney Jacob
N.T. Wright writes, “Many people think Mark’s gospel was the first to be written, and certainly it has all the zip and punch of a quick, hasty story that’s meant to grab you by the collar and make you face the truth about Jesus, about God, and about yourself.” (Mark for Everyone, Introduction)
If you have questions about the identity of Jesus Christ, or his mission, turn to the book of Mark. In our Groundwork series, “The Gospel of Mark,” we’ll explore the distinctive pace and style that help us grasp the radical truth of Mark’s message: Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God and he came to die so that he can bring salvation to the world.
The author of Mark’s Gospel goes unnamed within the book itself, however, a strong consensus among scholars identifies Mark, also known as John Mark (Acts 12:12) as the author. Who is Mark? He was a fellow worker of the Apostles, referenced regularly in the book of Acts and the epistles of the Apostle Paul (Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24).
Mark’s is the shortest of the four Gospels. It is also the only one of the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that does not include an account of Jesus’ birth, but instead begins with prophecy, rooting Jesus Christ firmly in Old Testament tradition and connecting him to John the Baptist. After those short eight verses, Mark launches directly into Jesus’ earthly ministry.
Another notable trait of Mark is it’s abrupt and unexpected ending. In fact, most study Bibles include two endings for the book of Mark. The earliest known manuscripts conclude after Mark 16:8 just after the women find Jesus’ tomb empty, and do not include any events after his resurrection. Later manuscripts, however, include Mark 16:9-20, which describe some of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances and the Great Commission. Scholars theorize that a well-meaning scribe might have added these verses and suspect they are not authentic to the original Gospel of Mark. Since there is some evidence supporting these verses, most Bibles today do still include Mark’s long ending, though publishers typically utilize design elements and footnotes to draw attention to the speculation about their authenticity.
It All Points to Jesus
Though his gospel is short, Mark writes strategically. He brings an imperative, urgent message for his readers and employs literary tools to drive that message into sharp focus. Recurring themes make it impossible to miss the power and authority of Jesus. It’s like he’s shouting, “Don’t miss this! This is too important to skim or misunderstand! If you remember anything from me, remember this.” Jesus is not only the long-anticipated Messiah, but that he’s the Messiah we need not merely the one we expect.
Get to Know Jesus
Jesus Christ is the heart of our faith. I invite you to follow the threads of Mark’s most prominent themes, grasp the profound truth of his message, and embrace the implications it has for our lives. Join us for our Groundwork series, “The Gospel of Mark”:
- Jesus on the Move - Mark 1-2
- Jesus: Misunderstood and Rejected - Mark 3 and Mark 6:1-6
- Jesus' Secret - Mark 3:10-12, Mark 8:27-33, and Mark 10:42-45
- Where Jesus Goes, Peace Follows - Mark 6:14-52
- Jesus Changes Our Perspective - Mark 4
- The Story Continues - Mark 16:1-8
Together, we’ll strengthen the foundation of our faith, and increase in our knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ, our Messiah.