Good morning. Today, I will finish our look at the Gospel of Mark. At least for the time being. There is so much that I have not covered, but I want to get to the birth narrative of Jesus as found in Luke's gospel in time for Christmas. We will eventually cover many of the topics that I have not yet looked at.
The Gospel of Mark presents Jesus as sort of being secretive. Often, after healing or performing some miracle Jesus advises the person to tell know one. Why? Why wouldn't Jesus want the news to spread about how he was able to do all he did? Well, again, it all has to do with the type of messiah being presented. Human beings associate the messiah with power, victory, and glory. However, in Mark's Gospel the messiah must be understood differently. Mark presents the messiah as the one who has come to suffer and die. This is why Jesus admonishes Peter in Mark 8:33: "But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. 'Get behind me Satan! You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.'" Peter had just rebuked Jesus because Jesus made his first of three predictions about his death.
The Gospel of Mark's passion narrative is very similar to that found in Matthew. However, Mark presents a more horrific account. Let me say a little about the Gospel of Mark before I move on. The Gospel of Mark is believed to be by many scholars the first Gospel written. This may also explain why there is no birth narrative. Matthew and Luke may have decided that since Mark did not elaborate as to where Jesus came from, they should do so. (More on that later) Well, just as in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus rides into Jerusalem. The people give him a parade. Then "Jesus entered Jerusalem and went to the temple. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve." (Mark 11:11) Matthew seems to indicate that Jesus went straight to the temple. Mark has him waiting until the next day. Wow! Can you imagine the frustration building for the disciples and the people? If this is the messiah, he is sure taking his sweet time. (They thought he had come to take on the Roman authorities and end oppression.)
Before I look at the death of Jesus in Mark's Gospel I want to look for a moment at the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. "They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to the disciples, 'Sit here while I pray.' He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,' he said to them. 'Stay here and keep watch.' Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that of possible the hour might pass from him..." (Mark 14:32-35) Jesus went on to ask God to "take this cup from me." (If it were possible.) Jesus did not ask God just one time for another way, we are told he prayed three times. Jesus knows what lies ahead of him. He, himself, has predicted it three times. But, I would suggest to you that even though Jesus the messiah was to suffer and die, he did not have a death wish. He is simple asking God if there is another way. In the end he is resigned to his fate, and to the will of God.
Jesus is crucified in Mark, and just like in Matthew he utters one statement from the cross: "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34) Then we are told, "With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last." (Mark 15:37) Again, the crucifixion was a horrific event according to Mark. You might ask, "Well wasn't it a horrific scene according to each Gospel writer? The answer, "No." Yes, the crucifixion was horrific by anyone's standards. But, when we get to John's gospel we will see something unique when it comes to the crucifixion. Now, I have already said that there is one character that has a recurring role on Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (John has another character.) "And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, 'Surely this man was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:39) In Matthew the centurion made his confession after seeing the resurrection of the saints, and the earthquake, etc. Here, the centurion also makes his confession based on what he saw. What did he see? He "saw how he died." He heard his cry and saw the agony of his suffering. Yes, the centurion (a Roman) understood this to be the messiah based on his suffering. He understands what the disciples could not.
O.K., tomorrow we will begin the Gospel of Luke and I promise to slow down and not cover it in only a few days. You will not want to miss a day of this study. Have a great day! -Pastor RIck