Eventides in the Life of the Lord Jesus in Mark’s Gospel - Introduction
Bernard Osborne, Dinas Powys, Wales [SEE PROFILE BELOW]
John Mark was pre-eminently a serving one. Both the first and last mentions of his activities as a Christian portray him as a servant of others. Thus in Acts 13. 5 we read that Barnabas and Paul, when on their first missionary journey, "had also John to their minister". In his final letter to his beloved Timothy Paul requests, "Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me for the ministry", 2 Tim. 4. 11. It is but fitting that when writing his Gospel he should show forth the Lord in the same character, that of the Servant. Here was One ceaselessly engaged in the work of God. The workmen on earth usually finish their work as dusk descends, but it was not so with God's elect Servant. Early and late, by night as well as by day, He was ever in the service of others. Yet Mark never forgot the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact his Gospel opens by affirming that what follows is "the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God". Mark 1.1. Again and again he speaks of the impact that Christ made on the minds and hearts of those who heard Him. Men were "amazed" at His doctrine and power, 1. 27; they were "astonished" at His authority, 1. 22; they were "all amazed, and glorified God", 2.12; His disciples "feared exceedingly" and questioned "What manner of man is this?", 4. 41; onlookers were "astonished with a great astonishment", 5. 42 ; again, when He came to them walkingonthe water Hisdisciples "were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered", 6. 51. We see that not only was this astonishment in the minds of the crowds who listened to the Lord, but it was still more in the minds of the inner circle of the disciples.
The Jesus whom Mark presents in his Gospel was not simply a Man amongst men; He was God manifest in the flesh among men, ever moving men's minds to a wondering amazement with His words and deeds. Of the facets of the Lord's life and work which are emphasized by Mark, one which has on the surface alone a challenge to Christian hearts is Mark's record of the eventides of the Saviour. Mark records seven of them, the last being the eventide of the Lord's burial when, taken by loving hands, His sacred body was tenderly laid in the new tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea. This Servant, Jehovah's perfect Servant, worked on when other men rested, and was prepared to forgo necessary rest to meet the needs of men. Here was One who never resented His rest being broken into, sometimes unceremoniously, but who graciously responded to the cry of men. Too often when work is done, and we shut our door, the cry of need which may come to us is answered reluctantly, if at all. Briefly let us consider the occasions of the eventides of Christ, and subsequently we shall look at each in more detail.
1. The Eventide of Phenomenal Healing—Mark 1. 32-34. It was "phenomenal", because of the fact that "they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils", because "all the city was gathered together at the door", and because of the amazing healing power which He demons trated. What a source of strength and encouragement this must have been to His disciples who had been following Him for only a brief while at that time.
2. The Eventide of Prospective Deliverance—Mark 4. 35 to 5.2. The Lord Jesus crossed the lake at night and in a storm so that on the morrow as He stepped ashore a poor demoniac whom no man could bind would rush from the tombs to meet his mighty Deliverer. It was in prospect of delivering the man that He crossed at night. What wondrous grace!
3. The Eventide of Prayerful Intercession—Mark 6. 46, 47. His disciples were on the lake, and were encountering a storm even whilst in the path of duty and obedience. But He knew their problems and difficulties; "he saw them toiling in rowing" as He was there interceding on the mountain top. Does He not still intercede for those who, in obeying Him, are toiling here below? And will He not, as then, come soon to their deliverance?
4. The Eventide of Peaceful
Repose—Mark 11. 11. It was the beginning of the week of His passion, and men were plotting His death. Who can tell how sweet it was for Him to find rest in that lovely home at Bethany in the company of those He loved, and who loved Him in return? Enmity abounded without, but here He found rest. It was their recognition of His worth, and their glad allegiance to Him that madetheir home so fragrant and blessed. Are our homes "a "Bethany" ?
5. The Eventide of Parabolic Intent—Mark 11. 19. This eventide is bounded by events in the temple in Jerusalem, and by the fig tree, cursed and withered. Attention is drawn to that fig tree, and the actions of the Lord take on a parabolic intent. He had entered the temple, v. 11, and looked around, and what was His judgment? "Nothing but leaves". A withering curse follows, and the people are scattered, v. 15. Is it not a parable of the experience of Israel ?
6. The Eventide of Passover Remembrance—Mark 14. 17. The final hours before "Christ our passover" was sacrificed for us have arrived. The Lord will celebrate the Passover with His disciples, and will institute a new feast by which His own will keep Him in their remembrance "till he come". He will institute a memorial supper, but He will also speak of His betrayal by Judas, and His denial by Peter. Truly He knew all things that were before Him, John 18. 4.
7. The Eventide of Prophetic Fulfilment—Mark 15. 42. For one
secret disciple, Joseph of Arimathaea, and for another, Nicodemus, the death of the Lord achieved what His life had not for them. It made cowards brave, and secret disciples publicly avowed their allegiance by their actions in this scene. From the moment of His death none but tender hands touched Him, and from the moment of His burial none but loving eyes saw Him, That holy body was to receive no more indignities. It was not thrown, as the high priests probably expected, into some dishonoured grave with the two malefactors. No, He was "with the rich in his death". Matthew tells us that Joseph was "a rich man", Matt. 27. 57. The ancient prophecy was fulfilled, Isa. 53. 9.
AUTHOR PROFILE: Bernard Osborne is retired from a career in education and is in fellowship in the assembly at Dinas Powis, Wales. He is a gifted Bible teacher and travels extensively in ministry throughout the UK and N. America.