Mark: The Gospel for a Skeptical Age

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1, ESV)

Mark is the gospel for a skeptical age, an age of unbelief, an age of questions, an age just like the one in which we live.  If the Gospel of John is the Good News for those with a theological bent (“In the beginning was the Word”), the Gospel of Mark is for those who need the truth, quickly and clearly.

In 7 words [maybe 5 depending on what Greek manuscript you work with.  We will assume 7 and not delve into minutiae that will bore, all but the heartiest of textual critics], Mark sets Jesus firmly into history, theology,  and eternity.

Mark is writing “gospel” or “good news” which by the time he penned his manuscript had become a technical term to refer to “the preaching about Jesus Christ and God’s saving power accomplished through him for all who believe (c.f. Rom 1.16)” [NET Bible First Edition Notes].

Mark was so convinced about the identity and mission of one little known guy from a true backwater of the Roman Empire (Nazareth), that not only did he decide to take the time to write a whole book about him, but Mark promptly tells us that his life was SIGNIFICANT and fundamentally so.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God!  What does that mean?  What ramifications does this truth carry with it?  I’m glad you didn’t asked because Mark will clarify for his readers just exactly what he means in the coming pages of his Gospel.

Here is a prequel for you, dear reader.  Only three more times in Mark’s Gospel does anyone else refer to Jesus as the “Son of God.”

  • And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” (Mark 3:11, ESV)
  • And when he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and fell down before him. And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.” For he was saying to him, “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit!”” (Mark 5:6–8, ESV)
  • And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39, ESV)

Demons and unclean spirits know and confess Jesus’ identity; the centurion sent out to supervise the execution of three Roman criminals discovers Jesus’ identity as he watches him die, but no one else seems to recognize who Jesus is, not his disciples, not the most religious people in Palestine, not anyone.

Mark is not deterred.  He knows Jesus’ identity.  He wants you, dear reader, to know it also.  So he begins with exactly that:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1, ESV)




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