The Son of Man and Why He Came
There are four gospels in our Bibles. Do you know what is unique about the Gospel of Mark? Read on to find out how Mark gives a special look at Jesus Christ.
[Note: This post is based on last week’s reading: The Gospel of Mark].
Mark is generally considered to be the oldest of the four gospels. It is the shortest, and fastest paced, but it also allows us to meet Jesus, the God-Man who often referred to Himself as the Son of Man. He said He did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
Peter is probably the source from which Mark drew for his gospel. If it is the oldest of the four, then the other three writers (Matthew, Luke, and John) would have had it available as they wrote. But the four gospels are all distinct, even the three we call synoptic (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). Bible scholars have worked to produce as accurately as they can a harmony of the gospels—a resource which attempts to put all the passages of the four gospels in chronological order.
I find it helpful to look at a harmony of the gospels, but we also ought to respect the fact that each of the gospels was inspired by God and given for a specific and unique purpose. God could have given us one gospel, but He gave us four. Skeptics look for discrepancies to call into question the veracity of the Scriptures while believers assert that the four different viewpoints actually permit greater confidence that the New Testament was not the product of a conspiracy by early Christians who wanted to create a legendary leader and a false religion.
The Flow of the Book
Mark opens his gospel with a few words about John the Baptist’s ministry which included his baptizing of Jesus. From there on Mark focuses on Jesus, His temptation in the wilderness and His preaching the gospel in Galilee following the arrest of John the Baptist. Mark relates how Jesus demonstrated His authority through teaching and by miracles and healing. Simultaneously, Jesus calls disciples to follow Him. Later, the Lord chooses twelve to be apostles whom He will train and send out to preach and heal.
About the middle of the gospel account, Mark records a turn of events when Peter confesses that Jesus is “the Christ” in the Gentile territory of Caesarea Philippi (8:27-30). Jesus tells the twelve of His coming death and resurrection and begins–what ends up being–His final journey to Jerusalem and to the cross. Along the way, Jesus’ teaching focuses on the theme of what it means to be His disciple—a life of service and sacrifice. He allows a glimpse of His glory to Peter, James, and John in the Transfiguration, but continues to remind them that He is going to die and rise again (9:30-32; 10:32-34).
Like the other gospels, Mark gives emphasis to the events surrounding Jesus’ last earthly days—the (Passover) supper with the disciples, His subsequent betrayal, arrest, trials, crucifixion and burial. Mark adds details not found in the other gospels, such as the anonymous young man (Mark himself?) who lost his cloak and fled naked from Gethsemane, and Peter’s anguish and weeping when he denied Jesus (14:51,52; 14:72). Mark, like all the gospels, concludes with the resurrection but gives less space to post-resurrection appearances. There is uncertainty, based on differences in the earliest manuscripts, about the original ending of the gospel of Mark (whether 16:8 or 16:20).
A Key Verse and an Important Doctrine
Truly, Mark’s gospel presents us with Jesus Christ who lived a purposeful, focused life in which He served others through His teaching, preaching, healing, and miracles. He was trusted and rejected, applauded and reviled, but nothing swayed Him from His mission which He summarized in Mark 10:45, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
A ransom (Gk. lutron) is a payment made and often describes money paid for the release of (or redemption of) slaves. “For” (Gk. anti) in the phrase “for many” means “instead of”. Thus, we have the basis for our understanding of the doctrine of vicarious atonement–that Christ’s death paid the price to purchase the freedom from slavery to sin and Satan for all who believe in Him.
Praise God for giving us the Gospel of Mark and even more for giving us His Son who died instead of all who believe in Him. Do you believe?
This week’s reading: Joshua
 ESV Study Bible note on Matthew 20:28
 L. Bekhof, Systematic Theology p. 378