Expository Thoughts on Mark

26 Sep

 (A new tuesday blog series…more to follow)

Mark 1:1 “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

Mark refers to Jesus in various ways, teacher, rabbi, Lord, Son of Man, and even as we see here, Christ, that is Messiah; yet it is this title “Son of God” that is probably most important in Mark‘s presentation of Jesus. 

As James Edwards has put it, “the divine Sonship of Jesus is the theological keystone to the gospel of Mark.“ Or to quote another scholar, “it is this revelation of Jesus as Son of God which dominates Mark’s gospel.“ Still one more, “the theme of Jesus as Son of God is the red thread tying together” all of Mark’s reflections on the person of Jesus throughout this gospel.

They say that for good reason.  Besides stating it directly in this very first verse, which by the way I believe you could make a good argument functions as something of a title for the entire gospel, we find Mark emphasizing Jesus’ sonship at key moments throughout his ministry.

For example at his baptism. Mark 1:11 “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” God the Father declares that Jesus is the Son. So by the way do demons and spirit beings. Mark 3:11, “And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, ‘You are the Son of God.’” It is revealed to Peter, James and John at Jesus’ transfiguration. Mark 9:7, “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, ‘This is my beloved Son; listen to Him.’” It is a crucial element to the high priests attack against Jesus at his trial before the execution. Mark 14:61, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And it is announced at Jesus’ death by a Roman soldier. Mark 15:39, “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.’”

If you understand that Mark is writing a story, a true story, but a true story intended to make a point about the person of Jesus, it is very clear that one of the primary points, if not the primary point he is making is that Jesus is the Son of God.

And really you know when you stop and think about it, it’s no surprise Mark goes to the lengths he does to help us see this reality about the person of Jesus, because as we look throughout the rest of the New Testament we discover this particular concept was absolutely fundamental to the early believers understanding of who Jesus was.

I won’t take the time to quote the verses, but check out for yourself how often Paul or the other writers of the New Testament describe the relationship between Jesus and God, as that of Father and Son.

They do that, because if you look at Jesus’ very own testimony concerning Himself, it was as Joaichim Jeremias has said…“the awareness of God being his Father and himself being God’s Son” that is “probably the deepest foundation of Jesus’ selfhood.” 

Even interestingly, you know, many non-Christian scholars who don’t trust the New Testament text, will concede that reality…because this idea, Jesus calling God Father, it is so unusual; there’s not a single instance in Palestinian Judaism up to Jesus’ day where God is addressed as Father…much less the way Jesus did, the term ‘abba.’ It was unthought of. But Jesus, that’s exactly how he prayed every time he prayed, except once and that was on the cross. That’s why I say, even non-Christian scholars they admit because it is so radical, that this idea of Jesus being the Son of God, it was an “unequivocal characteristic” as someone puts it, “of the way Jesus viewed himself.”

Mark is written to help us see who Jesus is. 

If we are going to understand what he wants us to see about Jesus it is important we slow down and reflect on what it means that Jesus is the Son of God.

It’s important to do that partly because it is a big part of where Mark is going with this gospel and even above that, because I’m not sure that we always grasp, at least I know I don’t always grasp, the significance of that fact.

I would go even further and say that I’m not sure many of us know why this is such a big deal in the New Testament or could explain very well why Mark doesn’t just start off, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, God…” instead of the way he does, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”

I think that’s true because in our day, (and it’s not just me who thinks this, it is guys who actually know something, good biblical scholars) who think in our day we’ve emphasized the deity of Jesus Christ, which is really, really, really, really, really, really important, Jesus is fully God, He is not a sub-God, He is not sort of God, He is not half-God, He is one hundred percent God; but while doing that, perhpas we haven’t talked or thought about Christ’s deity quite as carefully as we should, and as a result have lost a good understanding of the significance of the different persons in the Trinity.

Jesus is God.

But at the same time it is important we know Him as the Son of God.

One Response to “Expository Thoughts on Mark”


  1. Expository Thoughts on Mark « africabound - October 3, 2006

    […] Expository Thoughts on Mark […]

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