Having finished up a mini-series on the Great Commandments, we are now going to be turning our attention to the Gospel of Mark. I love this simplicity and potency of this Gospel. These reflections are meant to keep us continually immersed in God’s Word, so we can let His words transform our minds and conform our characters to the image of Jesus our King.
The Bible is fantastically understated. Due to its written nature, it is possible to read the words of the Bible in monotone – something like Ben Stein narrating the life of Christ. Also, due to the costly nature of writing materials in the ancient world, the Bible’s brevity causes us to overlook important truths. Finally, we are so far removed from the historical context that the words of the Bible are no longer a slap in the face like they were intended to be and we are immune to the cultural critique they offer. These reasons are the motive behind these reflections. I want to draw us into God’s story, I want us to come alive to the Word of God in a fresh way. I want the Gospel to be just as scandalous, just as beautiful, just as risky for us today as it was in the day in which it was written. So, from time to time I will take a portion of Scripture, reflect on it, teach about it and re-write it for our modern ears. Lord, bless me in this endeavor! Amen.
“The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” Mark 1:1
This is one of my favorite passages to teach on in all of Scripture. There is so much packaged into these twelve words that I can hardly stand it! Entire books can (and have) been written about this Truth. Forgive me if I wax poetic, but this verse is one of the premier Truths that the Church should be highlighting in this hour. Let me explain…
Mark says that this is the beginning of the gospel, the good news, about the Son of God. The thing is, at the time this was written, there was already a gospel, good news, written about the son of God. His name was Caesar.
So you see, Mark is not making some abstract theological statement. Mark is inciting revolution. Mark is declaring mutiny against the Roman Empire – he is an official enemy of the State. To make such a statement was treason, punishable by death. For Mark is declaring that Jesus is the Son of God, not Caesar. Jesus is Lord, not Nero.
Mark is not shy about his anti-Roman sentiments. Yet he is not being unpatriotic. He is a follower of Jesus, Christ is his King and heaven his home. Mark was born by water and Spirit into a new family and into a new Kingdom. So Mark speaks boldly about this new King and Kingdom. He fervently declares that Caesar is a fraud and that there is a new Kingdom forming in secret, infiltrating this present age like yeast working its way through a batch of dough. The Kingdom may be small, it may not be easily seen, but it will have a profound transformative effect given enough time.
Mark is a revolutionary and this Gospel is nothing short of a political/religious manifesto. Later pastoral letters were written to the Church to counsel them on how to live peaceably within the Roman Empire, but Mark has unquenched spiritual fervor and his passionate narrative proving that Jesus is indeed the Anointed One, sent by God to inaugurate a new Kingdom, is infectious.
I will have to leave it at that for today, but I look forward to exploring this verse with you further tomorrow.