Yesterday, we started studying The Gospel of Mark (2nd book of the New Testament). We will dig into this book verse by verse over the next 15 months (Lord willing) with only a few breaks (on special Holidays or when The Lord directs otherwise).
I like to call this book 'The Gospel of Action'. It is the briefest and bluntest account of Jesus' life. It has a simple literary style. It was written to give the facts to Christians in Rome. It was written to Gentiles as there are no references to the Jewish Law. It focuses on Christ the Servant. It focused on Works over Words.
Mark is likely the earliest Gospel Account (prior to 63AD). Paul and Peter would have still been alive. The temple would still be standing. Many scholars believe it was given by Peter to Mark (1 Peter 5:13) Mark is probably John Mark who accompanied Paul on his 1st Missionary Journey (Acts 13:13).
All but 31 verses of Mark are also quoted in other Gospel Accounts (Matthew, Luke or John). This Gospel does not have a birth account nor does it deal with the 'after resurrection' accounts of Jesus. Most manuscripts do not include Mark 16:9-20 so they have the account ending suddenly with the empty tomb.
Today, let's just look at the first verse: Mark 1:1.
This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.
Mark gives the purpose of his writing: He is sharing the Good News. Good News = Gospel. This is news and story of Jesus, that came to save those that put their faith in Him. It is the story of Jesus' life, death, burial, resurrection and prophecy of His return. It is the stories of His many miracles and the giving of His many teachings. The Good News IS Jesus.
Mark tells us that Jesus is Messiah. Other accounts call Him Jesus Christ or Jesus The Christ (no, Christ is not His last name). Christ = Messiah = Anointed One. All through the Old Testament we were given hundreds of prophecies about One that would come and would be anointed to save and deliver. By the time Jesus actually came, the people where looking for The Messiah. Jesus came for this purpose.
Mark tests our beliefs right in the first verse when He call Jesus the Son of God. Jesus was more than a good man, a teacher, a healer or a prophet. Yes, He was all those things and yes, He was The Messiah. Yet He was more! As Mark calls Jesus The Son of God he gives Jesus the title showing His Divine place within the Trinity (God The Father, God The Spirit and God The Son). We believe Jesus is The Son of God. We believe that God so loved the world that He sent His Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Right from the start Mark puts us to a test. Do we believe this? Do we believe The Good News?