This gospel account is the second book of the New Testament that was probably written by John Mark of Jerusalem sometime between 60-68 A.D. Tradition states that John Mark recorded the words of Peter, who recounted the teachings and events of Jesus Christ to Mark and then organized them into the second gospel account.
There are several unusual characteristics of Mark’s account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth that gives us some insights into the gospel of Jesus Christ.
First, Mark’s gospel is a gospel of action. For example, the word “immediately” occurs thirty-six times in Mark’s gospel (English Standard Version), more than in any other book in the New Testament. Mark focuses on the activity of Jesus rather than His teachings. Thus, he seems to present Jesus as this larger than life action hero who is always on the move battling the forces of evil and the errors of the religious establishment.
Another interesting characteristic of Mark’s gospel is its brevity. Mark is short and to the point, while Luke’s account of Jesus is nearly twice as long. So if you were to read the gospel account, most people could read it in less than an hour in one sitting.
Anyone who has read the other gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings will be taken aback by the abrupt beginning of Mark’s gospel. After a brief introduction sentence, he jumps right into John the Baptist’s ministry and then to Jesus. He tells us that Jesus came from Nazareth without telling us anything about his early life. Consider that nearly one-third of Mark’s gospel is devoted to the last week of Jesus’ life to emphasize this point further.
The structure of Mark’s gospel account is interesting, as well. The first eight chapters of Mark emphasize the nature and success of Jesus’ ministry. In contrast, the book’s second half is devoted to Jerusalem and His eventual crucifixion.
What Mark tells us about God and His plans for creation’s redemption is essential here. As the fulfillment of the promises of the Messiah being the Son of David, Jesus’ Sonship, and the coming of the Spirit that empowered Him, all point us to the fact that the promises of God are being realized in Jesus. Likewise, the inbreaking kingdom mentioned in Psalm 2:7; 110:1, and Isaiah 42 remind us that the time is at hand, and God is now, through Jesus, ready to bring the Messiah into the world.
Mark describes Jesus as the ultimate Servant of God. He is the fulfillment of the promises of God throughout the Hebrew Scriptures and the ultimate expression of the (Isa. 53) suffering servant who was to die for the sins of the entire world.
Let me encourage you to read the gospel according to Mark. As you do, reflect on what it tells you about Jesus, your salvation, and the promises of God.