Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

The Gospel of Mark (Witness of the Christ)

Image The first three gospels are known as synoptic. The term is defined: “of or forming a general outline or synopsis.” Each of these gospels contain a generally chronological snapshot of the life of our Lord. They are not exhaustive. Though similar, they are written from different perspectives. As would be expected, they emphasize different aspects of Jesus’ life, ministry and teaching.

It would be improper to refer to the gospels as either biographies or histories, though there are elements of each in all four of the books. Too often the works are criticized because they do not make a formal and verifiable effort to document the life of the Lord. Such attacks are unfair in imposing modern standards upon ancient writings, and in failing to recognize the theological motivations of the writers. As John wrote in John 20:30-31, “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”

The gospel of Matthew has a decidedly Jewish focus, supplying a genealogy and emphasizing our Lord’s teaching.

Luke contains the only information about Jesus between his birth and ministry, noting his trip to Jerusalem at age 12. Luke also exclusively records several of Jesus’ best known teachings, including his reference to the good Samaritan, and His revelations of the Hadean world in his discussion of the rich man and Lazarus in chapter 16. His gospel has a companion volume in the book of Acts (cf. Luke 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-3).

John’s gospel differs from the other three. He is less concerned with narrative in his writing. The first chapter of his gospel is a wonderful affirmation of Christ’s deity, as are his records of Jesus’ “I AM” statements.

The gospel of Mark is the shortest of the gospels. It is believed to be the first written, and emphasizes the miracles that Jesus performed during his ministry on earth.

Mark does not discuss the birth of Jesus, beginning instead with the preaching of John the Baptist in preparation for the Lord’s ministry. Before the first chapter is over he chronicles our Lord’s baptism, His wilderness temptation, and the beginning of His ministry in Galilee. There are references to miraculous healings, and the casting out of unclean spirits in the first chapter as well.

Almost half of Mark’s gospel is concerned with the final events of our Lord’s life, His subsequent resurrection from the dead, and His ascension into heaven. It is not surprising that he would emphasize these events, as they serve to establish the identity of Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ of God.

In chapter 11, Mark records the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem, where He is rightly worshiped as “He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (verse 9). In chapter 14, he writes of the plot hatched by Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus, and His betrayal and arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Thursday night of Passover. Mark records Jesus’ affirmation when asked by the High Priest, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus answered, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (verses 61-62). Later, in chapter 15, Pilate asked, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Mark reports Jesus’ answer, “It is as you say” (verse 2). Both of these affirmations are validated in the final events of Mark’s gospel.

In chapter 15, Mark writes of Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross. The event was accompanied by various miracles (including darkness over the land for three hours [verse 33], and the rending of the veil in the temple [verse 29]). These events were enough for the centurion who witnessed His death to say, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” (verse 39).

Mark ends his gospel by recounting the Lord’s resurrection from the dead, witnessed by many (16:1-13); His commission to His disciples to preach the gospel (16:15-16); and His ascension into heaven (16:19-20).

The gospel of Mark is a concise and wonderful witness that Jesus of Nazareth is the Savior of the world! As Peter confessed to Him in Mark 16:29, “You are the Christ.”