Mark is the second and shortest of the four gospel accounts. The author’s given name is John, though we typically refer to him by his surname, Mark. He lived with his mother, Mary, in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), but left to join Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 12:25; 13:13). Paul was upset that John Mark turned back before the first journey was ended, and thus refused to take him on his second journey (Acts 15:37). Instead, John Mark went on a second journey with his cousin Barnabas (Acts 15:39; Colossians 4:10). About 10 years later, we find that Paul considered John Mark to be a fellow worker (Philemon 1:24) and eventually sought to have him by his side at Rome (2 Timothy 4:11).
Mark, like John, begins his gospel by identifying Jesus as the Son of God (1:1). Moving forward in Mark’s record, we find that he does not share the teachings of Jesus as much as the other gospel writers. Often he will summarize what is addressed at length in the parallel accounts. However Mark focuses extensively on the works of Jesus. He gave us an action-packed gospel as evidenced by his use of the word “immediately,” which appears almost 40x in the book.
As a literary work, Mark’s gospel is not the smooth read of Matthew defending Jesus as the promised Messiah, or Luke narrating beautifully the various parables of our Lord, or John’s masterful portrayal of Jesus, the Great I AM. Mark provided a powerful perspective of the Christ as the great servant of God and of man who does mighty deeds. Mark provided a powerful perspective of the Christ as the great servant of God and of man who does mighty deeds. Mark chronicled many of Jesus’ miracles back-to-back-to-back, which would be appealing to a Roman audience. They were not interested in the fulfilled prophecy as the Jews, nor in philosophy as the Greeks—they wanted action, and Mark gave them action.
In the first half of Mark’s gospel, Jesus was casting out demons, forgiving sins, healing the diseased, raising the dead, walking on water, calming the sea, etc.. The midway point of his account is the confession of Peter (Mark 8:29). Moving forward from this, the Lord’s mission to give Himself as a ransom for sin is emphasized (Mark 10:45). In Mark 8:31; 9:31, and 10:34 Jesus foretold His suffering, death, and resurrection to the apostles, though they did not receive it well.
In the latter portion of his gospel, Mark again focused Jesus’ works, though it is no longer about healings and such. Jesus came to Jerusalem as her king and then cleared the temple of those who made it a den of thieves (Mark 11). His actions resulted in confrontations with the established religious leaders (Mark 11, 12). In response to His actions and claims, the Jewish leaders plot against Him, seeking to destroy Him.
As with all the gospel accounts, Mark ends with a resurrected Messiah who is received into heaven, where He now reigns over His people.
Our next book summary will be of Luke’s gospel…