Skip to main content

Portraits of Christ: Mark’s Gospel - Behold the Man

Imagine that you are a Gentile, such as a Roman or Greek, and put yourself into a first-century pagan mindset. What would you think if you heard of a man who went around healing people? You would probably think that he was a god. What if you heard of a man driving out evil spirits and granting divine forgiveness of people’s sins? You would think he was some kind of god. If you heard of a man raising someone from the dead, you would surely think of him as a god. What if you heard of a man miraculously feeding a crowd, and controlling the weather by commanding a storm to stop? You would think he was a god.


Now put that all together - one man doing all those things. He is not just a god -- not just a weather god, a nature deity, or a divine prophet. It soon becomes apparent that he is a divine being with power over all those things. He has power over nature, over matter, over health and disease, over life, over death. He is not just a god, but something more than that. By the time he overcomes death at the end, by resurrecting from the dead, it becomes clear that he is the God -- the one and only God.


Mark’s gospel is written in a fast paced manner, where the character development and plot move along quickly. It was the first gospel written, and is less detailed than the other gospels. The book was written mainly for a Gentile audience, and accordingly, we Jesus portrayed as an extraordinary man. A case quickly builds with different kinds of miracles that he is not just an extraordinary man, and not just a god. Along with his teachings and claims about himself, we come to see that he is God. By the end of the story, it is clear that he is the one true God, who proves himself ultimately in his resurrection.


Because his human side is clear in Mark (and Luke), we easily identify with him and connect with him. When we realize that this man is God in the flesh, how even more exciting the story becomes. He is one of us, in a sense, yet he is God and comes with the power to free us, heal us, and connect us with his Father in heaven.


Mark’s story ends abruptly, though, with the report of his resurrection in Mark 16 (ignoring that extra ending that someone else wrote later). The reader is left hanging, maybe wondering what happened next. At the time this was written, most readers were probably generally familiar with some of what happened later. Yet the abrupt ending makes readers think more about his life, death and resurrection, and what it all means. As we read it, we are invited to reflect on what Jesus has done then, and how he still heals today. We are invited to think of his death and resurrection, and what it says about who he his. And we are invited to think about what Jesus means for us today.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Gossip, accusation and spiritual warfare

Paul once wrote to the Corinthians, “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder” [1 Cor. 12:20]. Gossip is diagnosed as a serious spiritual problem, not a harmless form of conversation and social entertainment, as many in the secular world would view it.God views it differently. Gossip is the opposite of the love and grace that God wants to display in our lives.
Gossip is often exaggerated (and thus, untrue), or outright fabricated. Even church people engage in gossip in a seemingly sanctimonious guise (“We really ought to pray for X – you wouldn’t believe what he told me yesterday!...”). Whether secular or “christianized,” gossip betrays trust. “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret” [Prov. 11:13]; “A perverse person stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates clo…

Book review: Green Eggs and Ham (Dr. Seuss)

Green eggs and ham, as a recolorized staple breakfast food, captures the reader's attention by turning this diurnal sustenance into an unexpected and apparently unappetizing foodstuff. It thus symbolizes the existential angst of modern life, wherein we are unfulfilled by modern life, and are repelled by something that might impart nourishment. The "protagonist" to be convinced of its desirability remains anonymous, while the other actor refers to himself with an emphatic identifier "Sam I am", formed with a pronominal subject and copular verb of existence. This character thus seeks to emphasize his existence and existential wholeness, and even establish a sense of self-existence, with an apparent Old Testament allusion to Elohim speaking to Moses as the "I Am". This emphatic personal identifier thus introduces a prominent theme of religious existentialism to the narrative, probably more in line with original Kierkegaardian religious existentialism, ra…

Portraits of Christ: John’s Gospel, part 2

In John’s Gospel we have an emphasis on Jesus that is unique compared to the other gospels. John not only emphasizes his deity, but his mysteriousness. The reader is left with an impression of Jesus as a mystical teacher, in the sense that his words and actions are not only those of a profound religious teacher, but of one who is other-worldly. So often in this gospel we read of Jesus making statements that the crowds, the religious teachers, and even his own disciples sometimes could not fathom.

For starters, there are the “I am” statements (e.g., I am the bread of life; I am the living water; I am the good shepherd; I am the way, the truth, and the life), which were clearly claims to divinity, for these statements in the Jewish context referred to God’s title “I am,” given when Moses inquired of his name at the burning bush. Jesus makes much use of mystical metaphors like these and others, like all the ‘day’ and ‘night’ references in this book, which portrays him as mystical or mys…