Mark, also called John Mark, is a fairly young man when he authored this Gospel. Later, he becomes a close companion of the apostle Peter and a recurring character in the Book of Acts.
If Matthew was written mostly for a Jewish audience, then Mark targets the Gentile (non-Jewish) Roman believers. The basis for this belief is rooted in the way Mark calculates the passage of time—according to the Roman system—and in the fact that he makes fewer references to the Old Testament than Matthew does.
The shortest of the four Gospels, Mark is packed with action, centering more on what Jesus did than what he said. You want miracles? Mark’s got ’em. You want healing? Look no further. You wanna be amazed, astonished, wowed, or even flabbergasted? You’ve come to the right book.
Mark was so overwhelmed by the supreme sacrifice of Christ that he devoted nearly half of his gospel to the last week of Jesus’ life—the unfair trial, immeasurable torture, cruel death by crucifixion, and, ultimately, his resurrection.
In the first chapter alone, Jesus is baptized and tempted in the desert, and then he selects disciples, casts out an evil spirit, heals many people, and preaches in Galilee. Mark shows us a man of action who sends missionaries, performs miracles, heals the sick, feeds the hungry, and challenges wrong assumptions. And he jumps right to the point of why Jesus came.
As I read Day 1 of Remarkable: 40 Days in the Gospel of Mark last Wednesday, I couldn’t help but notice the mention of wilderness three times (vs. 3, 4, and 12).
The chapter opens, “the beginning of the good news about Jesus” (verse 1). When someone uses the term “good news” I’m thinking of reason to…
Roast savory meat…
But the beginning of the good news about Jesus doesn’t include party balloons or streamers, well, there’s a stream alright, a big one known as the Jordan River.
Instead, an odd man wearing unclean clothes made from a camel tied together with a leather belt, stands knee deep in the running water. His beard is sticky from honey, his toes pruned from hours of work. He lives his life, his calling in the wilderness.
Then another man appears, the long-awaited Messiah, the Holy One of Israel, appears in the wilderness. With water dripping down his forehead, heaven tears open and the Spirit descends like a dove.
“At once” the Spirit sends Jesus to…
A party or celebration?
A temple or synagogue?
To the wilderness. Reminding us…
God always moves in the wilderness.
As we enter Day 5, Mark 2:14-22, we see Christ is in a different kind of wild-erness. He invites a dirty tax collector to follow him.
Levi leaves everything to become a Jesus-ite. And Levi can’t keep the good news to himself. Levi invites all his friends who are mostly other tax collectors. Mark tells us, “many tax collectors” dined with Jesus.
To the religious, the scene was reprehensible.
As I research my next book, Taste and See: A Food Lover’s Search for God in Bakers, Butchers, and Fresh Food Makers (releasing January 2019), I’ve been learning the rich significance of eating with someone in ancient culture extends beyond kindness or hospitality. To the religious, Jesus was breaking bread with the unclean—crossing the no-no line. Yet Christ didn’t come to play it safe or gain approval.
“I have come to get sinners to follow me” (Mark 2:17).
Jesus comes out of the wilderness to rescue people in the wild.
Revealing that Christ works in the wilderness and the wild.
Raising the question… can you and I become comfortable living in the wilderness? Comfortable living in the wild? Comfortable going where Christ goes to spread Good News?
What did I least want to read but most need to hear in today’s reading?
That I need to be willing to become more comfortable with discomfort.
What stood out to you from today’s reading?
It’s not too late to join us in studying this amazing Gospel with the Remarkable: 40 Days in the Gospel of Mark workbook. The book includes the Gospel of Mark divided into 40 readings, 40 devotions, and 40 sets of reflection questions. Click here to buy a copy of Remarkable.
Or….ask a long-distance BFF, co-worker, neighbor, small group to join you. Click here to buy a 4-pack of Remarkable workbooks for you and some of your friends.