Mark and His Gospel of the Servant

Mark 1:1 NIV

1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

I’ve heard for years that each of the four gospels presents a different aspect of who Jesus Christ is. The one I’m focusing on in this writing is the gospel of Mark, which many determine to portray the characteristic of Jesus as the servant of God. It is somewhat curious to determine just how that possibly developed. We know the four writers of each gospel did not sit down beforehand and discuss who would give what representation. According to F.F. Bruce, the gospel of Mark was the first written and done so shortly before AD 60. Luke fell between 60 and 70 AD with Matthew following shortly after AD 70. He places John’s gospel to have been written between 90 and 100 AD.

As the Christian faith grew it became more apparent that a historical account of the life and times of Jesus must be recorded. With heresies beginning to flood the fledgling faith, exact and accurate perspectives had to be written to reveal just precisely who Jesus of Nazareth was. And so we have four different characteristics of the God/Man. Since they were developed incrementally, one could pick up and present a viewpoint the other had not. These writings quickly assimilated and passed freely between churches as revealed inspirationally by the Holy Spirit.

In this case I focus on Mark. He was a relative of Barnabas, a companion of Paul, and originally in fellowship with brethren in Jerusalem. This afforded him direct contact with the Twelve Apostles. What better position could there have been to collate information directly obtained from those who had firsthand accounts, eyewitnesses if you will. First, there is little doubt Mark with a relative so prominently held in honor by the apostles, was invited to listen in on story after story as Barnabas heard the twelve rehearse the signs, works and words of Christ to the many new followers in Jerusalem. Second, as a companion in travel with the Apostle Paul, Mark was in a perfect place to glean from the accounts that he had heard and learned. Paul, who was the most prolific writer of the New Testament, had his own inquires from eyewitness of the life of Jesus the Messiah. And, it would be wise to remember also that Paul enjoyed his own personal revelation, experience and knowledge of the presence of the Lord. No doubt Paul communicated many truths to Mark as they worked and travelled. Finally, having lived in Jerusalem, Mark was in close proximity to the many thousands still alive, those who had heard and experienced the miracles and instructions of the Lord firsthand. He was in a position to interview those who had heard Jesus teach in the temple. He could maybe even ask questions of the those who were there singing, “Hosanna!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” as Christ entered Jerusalem.

In case one has questions as to the validity and accuracy of such a work, we must remember Mark wrote them, as noted, while many eyewitnesses were still alive. Any of these easily could refute error immediately and take issue with misrepresentations. Of course, there were no challenges forthcoming, and Mark’s text held true. This just gives further irrefutable evidence as to the inspiration, power and enabling of the Holy Spirit in directing Mark in such a great undertaking. And as the first historical record written, one can understand full well why so much is communicated in general terms and not as specific as the other synoptic gospels. Mark was presenting the first historical account. He was writing about the immediate life and times of Jesus. Details of Jesus’ birth and origins were to be assumed by others later. Mark’s presentation was to write of Jesus and His service to humanity. And so we find Jesus as the servant of God, stately written and examined throughout the gospel of Mark.

J. Robert Hanson


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