The Gospel according to Mark–study notes in English

1. The Son who came to serve

The Gospel according to Mark does not begin with the birth of our Savior, nor his childhood and youth, but from John’s baptism from which the servant hood of our Lord is launched, as if the servant shows up, reporting none of his history, only to start the service immediately.

Nevertheless, there is one point which cannot escape from the “resume” of this Servant. Mark’s Gospel begins with the most precious words “Jesus Christ, Son of God” (神的儿子,耶稣基督…). The Holy Spirit, before presenting the Servant and His work, makes it clear beyond any doubt this is the story of Son of God. That is, the Servant is Son of God who has come down to the position of a servant, taking up the humility. It is thus clear that in the eyes of the Holy Spirit, the meaning of His service does not arise from what He did alone but first of all from who He is.

2. The connection to the Old Testament

This Gospel is connected to the Old Testament by quoting Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament) and Isaiah (the most evangelical of all the prophets). But the connection points to John the Baptist and his ministry, again focused on the work to be done.

“Repent and believe in the Gospel, for the time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is near.” These are the first words spoken by Jesus in Mark, the same words that were proclaimed by John. This is the true announcement of the Gospel in the new testament, the age of grace. Repent, not because a punishment is coming if you don’t (which had always been the way that God had dealt with the Israel in the Old Testament time), but because the Kingdom of God is near. If the Old Testament time was a training course for God’s people, the Lord’s announcement essentially means that “for all the training and preparation, this is it.” The announcement of the Lord is therefore not a warning to a thief in the hall that the owner is coming, but a sign to the guests of a banquet (who had grown weary because of the long waiting) that the Host King is arriving.

For thousands of years, God had been preparing for this coming of the Kingdom. Now there are only a short three years left for further preparation. But what critical three years and what preparation that would be! This final preparation can be done by no other than the Son of God himself. Jesus therefore enters into the work immediately (Mark 1: 16).

3. The action of the Servant

Where there is an order from heaven, there is action on earth. His faithfulness, obedience, diligence and expediency are demonstrated throughout this Gospel. We see the life and the face of an ox. From Mark we truly understand the words of our Lord when he said “My yoke …”.

Chapter 1-10, the ox in the field; chapter 11-15, the ox on the altar. Chapter 1-10, the bread; chapter 11-15, the cup.

4. The testimony of the Servant

It is important to understand that the work of Christ on earth as a servant of God isn’t just about preaching the gospel. It is ultimately to accomplish the salvation on the cross, and before that to prepare the world for the Gospel. How is the preparation accomplished? It was through His testimony. Every work of the Lord is a testimony, and each testimony has two sides, of which one is to demonstrate the power, authority, faithfulness and grace of God, and the other to demonstrate the weakness, the corruption and the unbelieving state of man.

It is therefore important to recognize that the rejection of Christ by the world is a failure of man not a failure of Lord’s preaching; and the failure of man is the final period God uses to conclude the long chapters of the Old Testament. The main purpose of the Old Testament was to demonstrate the bankruptcy of man confronting the law. Now the true life of Son of God is manifested in the Son of Man, in sharp contrast with the corrupted race of Adam. Therefore, the corruption of the world shown in contrast to the complete holiness of the Son of Man demonstrates precisely a part of what the work of Jesus meant to accomplish.

But in spite the corruption of the world, the Lord did find, secure, and bring up a people that belong to Him. No matter how weak and faithless this people are, they followed the Lord, came to know the Lord, and even loved the Lord, and most importantly were prepared to receive new life after the Lord’s ascension.

5. The character of the Servant

“If any man desires to be first, he shall be last of all, and servant of all.” Mark 9: 35.

“…whosoever would be great among you, shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first of you shall be bondman of all. For also the Son of man did not come to be ministered to, but to minister, and give his life a ransom for many.” Mar 10: 43-45

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