Mark’s gospel

These are my 250 words on this topic from Week 1 of the subject NT501: Jesus and the Gospels.

How do you think Mark wants his readers to respond to his document? Can you outline something of the shape of his Gospel?

Mark wants his readers to respond with interest and awe at this compelling character who is clearly commissioned by God, with the authority and power of God to bring about the fulfillment of the good news of His kingdom, through his servant-like ministry.

Mark’s account is largely straight-forward and action-packed, devoid of flourish or poetry. Lacking also is much that would resonate with a Jewish audience as there is little in the way of explicit Old Testament references. The account appears not to be concerned with Jesus ancestry or background prior to his formal ministry commencing.

The pace slows down so much in the account of the last few days of Jesus’ life before his execution that it feels as though the action moves in slow motion. This is done by Mark I think to focus the reader on the significance of each scene and of the crucifixion and resurrection period in general as it is at the heart of the message of this Gospel about the purpose and work of Jesus in his earthly ministry.

Some other interesting aspects of this Gospel that influence the shape and impact of the message:

  • A ministry of healing both the body and the soul – and these are often linked in that Jesus readily responds to those that show faith.
  • A ministry in tension with Jesus not wanting his full identity to be known – that the crowds might hinder his ministry, that people might be attracted to him for the wrong reasons.
  • The kingdom of God is so challenging and counter-cultural character (first will be last, lose your life to save it, inside not outside, be like little children etc)
  • The disciples are accounted for in a few unflattering ways; They don’t seem to get the real meaning behind much of Jesus’ teaching and often appear to miss the point, particularly the big point of Jesus’ death and resurrection
  • The most extended direct teaching of Jesus appears to be about persecution, end times, Jesus return
  • Jesus is a character deeply interested and invested in people. Very busy doing good – teaching and healing

Before I begin

How am I feeling as I commence the first two subjects of what will hopefully become a Masters of Divinity?

  • I am strangely feeling very knowledge-less. Despite all the stuff I know is in my head already, it feels like I am a blank slate ready to be filled up with information
  • I am feeling very unsure of how well I will manage the study commitments alongside all the other ‘stuff’ in my life
  • I am feeling under pressure to make the most of each day; to use my time most effectively and to not squander too much time; to not put off till tomorrow what I can do today; but I need to be careful to not obsess too much about future commitments that I neglect to live each day. For example, I find in myself the tendency to spend a lot of time today getting ready for tomorrow. Sure, it means that tomorrow will probably run much more smoothly, but I’ve just sacrificed one day for the sake of another. Sometimes this may not be worth the sacrifice
  • I am feeling excited about investing more of myself (time, energy, money) into pursuits that I believe are of eternal value
  • I am enjoying the feeling of uncertainty around what the future holds (of course this is always the case, but by deliberately making decisions that have removed certain allusions of security such as full-time employment, I am more aware of my lack of control); of feeling risky; of feeling a pinch into my comfort and security
  • I am enjoying the opportunities I am getting to talk to people about my work and study plans. I need to think more about how to frame the conversation in such a way that I can talk of my love for Jesus and his people; which are really the driving motivations behind my plans