Markby Robert M. Solomon
The shortest of the four gospels, and probably the earliest, Mark brings us to Jesus Christ (Christ means Messiah, or the Anointed One) without much fanfare and lengthy introduction. Tradition has it that Mark got much of his material from the apostle Peter, with whom he was closely associated (1 Peter 5:13). This is supported by scholarly examinations of the gospel itself. It portrays Jesus as a man of action and focuses on His deeds more than His words. In the words of New Testament scholar A. T. Robertson, it “throbs with life and bristles with vivid details”.1
The gospel can be divided into two major sections, with Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah in Mark 8:27–30 serving as a hinge. The first part introduces Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, and more importantly, the Servant King. It shows what it takes to be God’s obedient servant, by tracing the work of Jesus as it develops among needy humanity. In the process, His compassion, authority, power, and sense of mission are demonstrated.
However, the story shifts to a darker mood after Peter’s confession, describing the Servant King’s suffering and eventual death on the cross at the hands of His enemies. The heavy price Jesus paid for complete obedience to His Father’s will lets readers understand that their devotion to the Servant King may likewise lead them to face persecution and even death. But Jesus’ powerful resurrection dispels all gloom, enabling His faithful followers to face suffering with purpose and hope.
Overall, Mark’s gospel challenges readers to respond to its message: trust in the Servant King, believe He is the Son of God who is the Messiah, and faithfully follow Him all the way.
The Structure of Mark
9 T. Robertson, Word Pictures of the New Testament Volumne One: The Gospel According to Matthew and the Gospel According to Mark, rev. and updated by Wesley J. Perschbacher (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2004), 259.
“But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”—Mark 8:29