In our final message from the Gospel of Mark, I shared this brief overview of the entire Gospel:
In chapters 1-3 of Mark’s Gospel we see that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, the Prophet who is mightier than John the Baptist. God speaks from Heaven at His baptism, proclaiming Jesus to be His beloved Son. He is filled by the Holy Spirit without measure. He is a preacher who proclaims that we must repent and believe in Him, because in Him the Kingdom of God has come.
Jesus demonstrates that He is the King of the Kingdom by teaching with an unheard-of authority, by calling His disciples to leave everything behind and follow Him, and by demonstrating His authority over demonic spirits and all diseases. Jesus declares that because He has come, Satan is bound and Jesus is plundering his house!
Yet, from the beginning He indicates that He is a King with an unusual mission, as He commands those who have seen His miraculous power to keep quiet about it.
He explains that loyalty to His Kingdom supersedes even the bonds of family when He says that whoever does the will of God is His brother, sister, and mother. And we begin to see He is a King who will be rejected by His own people as the religious authorities accuse Him of working His miracles by the power of Satan.
In Mark 4 Jesus is the authoritative Teacher who explains the quiet, yet unstoppable way in which His Kingdom will take over. And He demonstrates that He is not a merely human teacher- but is indeed the Son of God!- by unveiling His divine power as He rebukes the wind and waves, calming them with a word.
And in Mark 5, Jesus raises Jairus’ daughter from the dead, demonstrating that in the glorious fulness of His Kingdom’s coming, even Death itself will lose its sting!
In Mark 6, this King over death is rejected in his hometown. And, He demonstrates that He is a King who provides for His people by feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish! He again unveils His divine power by walking on the water to meet His disciples, who are afraid of Him because their hearts are still hardened in unbelief.
In Mark 7 and 8, Jesus is Lord of the Law, explaining that the Law is not first about externals, but is primarily a matter of the heart. And He fulfills prophecy by making the deaf to hear, the blind to see and the dumb to speak! And in Mark 8, God reveals to Peter that this Jesus is the Christ, greater than Elijah or any prophet! And, yet, Jesus begins to explain to His disciples that He is not the kind of Christ that they expected- He is a Christ who will suffer, be rejected, and be killed- but that He WILL rise again after three days!
And He explains to them that He is a King who is worth giving up everything for, even life itself, when He says at the end of Mark 8- “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever will save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
In Mark 9, His hidden glory is unveiled for Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, and God again speaks, reaffirming what He proclaimed at Jesus’ baptism, that this is His beloved Son. And He commands us to listen to Jesus.
In this, and the following chapters, Jesus continues to prepare His disciples for His fast-approaching death and to call them to follow His example of sacrificial servanthood, because even He, the Son of God, came to serve, not to be served, and to give His life as a ransom for many.
In chapters 11-15, we see His prophetic words fulfilled as He enters Jerusalem, confronts the scribes and pharisees for their hypocrisy, as He is betrayed into their hands by one of His own followers, as He is convicted of blasphemy in a mock trial, is humiliated, and finally, His body torn to shreds, as He is publicly executed on the Cross as a criminal. We see His lifeless body taken down from the Cross, buried in a tomb and sealed in with a stone…
And in Chapter 16, we see the empty tomb and hear the wonderful proclamation of the angel, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here! See the place where they laid him!”
And, there, at the end of Mark’s Gospel, with the women who flee from the tomb with trembling, we are left with a choice. What will we do with this news of the empty tomb? Will we harden our hearts and make up far-fetched theories to try and explain it away? Will we dismiss all of Mark’s testimony about Jesus as merely an interesting story? Or, will we believe what Mark has told us- that Jesus demonstrated by His teaching, His miraculous power, His willing sacrifice of Himself and, most clearly, by His resurrection that He IS, without question the Son of God?