Mark’s Gospel

ALTHOUGH MARK PRESENTS THE LORD as the Servant, the very first verse calls Him the Son of God. Twice in the book His sonship is testified to by God and twice by demons. Conversely, John presents the Lord as the Son of God, but in his thirteenth chapter we see the Servant. Although the gospel-writers have their principle themes, other aspects of the Lord Jesus inevitably shine through. Whereas in Matthew His disciples always called him Lord, only once was He addressed as Lord in Mark.

The Lord asks questions in Mark as if He does not know the answers; but to guard against a wrong impression His omniscience in seen in 2. 8; 14. 13, 30. He says, ‘of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven , neither the Son, but the Father’, 13. 32, ‘for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth’, John 15. 15.

The Servant portion of Isaiah, chapter 40 onwards, is a companion scripture. Two miracles are unique to Mark: that of the deaf man, who also had a speech impediment, 7. 32, and that of the blind man, 8. 22. Israel as God’s servant was blind and deaf, Isa. 42.19, a condition that would one day change, Isa. 32. 3, 4. Even the disciples shared these shortcomings in measure, Mark 8. 18. But the Lord could say, ‘The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I may know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned. The Lord God hath opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back’, Isa. 50. 4, 5.

All actions of the Lord are found here, as befits the gospel of service. He is only viewed as sitting when His redemptive work is complete, 16. 19. Mark contrasts the work of God’s servant with that of the adversary, Satan, as Mark always calls him, whose works the Lord came to undo. Hence we often read of the casting out of demons; not ‘evil spirits’, but ‘unclean spirits’. The Pharisees and scribes were very particular to clean the outside of the vessels, as also to maintain outward respectability themselves; but it is ‘man within’ who needs to be dealt with. Only clean vessels are meet for the master’s use.

Steadfast and unmovable as He faces the tempter in chapter 1, the Lord is always abounding in work in the chapters that follow. The frequent word ‘immediately’, variously translated, gives movement to each scene. Sample days of the Lord’s service are given us in 1. 21; 6. 30; 14. 12: they are full of ministry to God and man, but with little rest for the Lord, so much so that His kinsmen say, ‘He is beside himself,’ 3. 21.

Much emphasis is placed on the faithful preaching of the gospel. The scribes are mentioned eighteen times, and, with the exception of the scribe of 12. 28, are spoken of in a bad light for their parable of 4. 26 shows the increase of the gospel. Indeed Mark observes increase, whether in this or the preceding parable, the increasing supplies of loaves to the multitudes, or the increasing clarity of sight of the blind man, chapter 8; much increase being by the strength of the ox.

The Lord is the sin offering. The unmitigated hardness of man’s heart is brought out, seen in the Lord’s enemies: nor were the disciples free from it. Sin is seen in all its hatefulness, and in the strongest words the Lord says, ‘Take away this cup from Me’, but adds, ‘Nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt’.


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