July 19: Mark 1

Randall Grossman
"The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God"- Mark 1:1

Lots of people go to amusement parks at this time of year and enjoy the thrill of roller coasters and other rides. Reading the gospel of Mark is an exciting adventure too. You are in for a thrilling ride! This action packed summary of the ministry of Jesus begins with a bang! Jesus is introduced as the "Son of God"- an identity fleshed out in its pages and climaxed with the confession of a Roman centurion as Jesus died- "Truly this man was the Son of God!" (15:39).

John Mark is almost certainly the author of this literary portrait of Jesus. The early church says he was the traveling companion and translator for the apostle Peter, in which case we can say that this is "the gospel of Peter", i.e. the memories and preaching summaries of the leader of the apostles.

The words of the Roman soldier in 15:39 remind us of the probable audience that Mark addressed in his gospel. There are several hints in the book that Mark was seeking to win the Romans to the Lord through his writing. The Romans were a practical people, and actions spoke louder than words to them. Throughout this gospel Jesus is portrayed as a man of action. The word usually translated "immediately" occurs over forty times in this book. (How many can you count in chapter 1?) The use of this word keeps the action moving forward at a rapid pace.

Who is this Son of God? He is the one predicted by Isaiah (1:2-3), the one attested by the Father and the Holy Spirit at his baptism (1:9-11), the one tempted by the devil (1:12-13), the one who announces the kingdom with a call to repentance and faith (`1:14-15), the one who authoritatively calls men to follow him (1:16-20), the one who casts out demons (1:21-28), the one who heals the sick (1:29-34), the one who came to preach good news (1:35-39), the one who cleanses a leper as a picture of cleansing from sin (1:40-45). What a Savior!