Are you looking for a Bible study to join this fall? Personally, I would love to be refreshed by seeing Jesus through Mark’s eyes. Fortunately, our church is doing a sermons series on the Gospel of Mark, so I thought this would be the perfect time for me to deep dive into that gospel. Would you join me?
Have you ever wondered why there are four biographies of Jesus in the Scriptures? A good photographer knows that you can’t capture your subject adequately from one angle. You have to walk around him, bend down and look up to seem him loom large. Back away to see his context, his family, his time of history. Zoom in to see the expressions on his face. Only then do you begin to know him.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. Each gospel writer has a different angle on Jesus.
Seeing Jesus Four Ways
Matthew, the tax collector, shows us the King who comes with authority. We see this authority when Jesus calls him away from his tax collector booth, where he spent his days cheating his Jewish brothers, and Matthew responds immediately. Matthew’s gospel “shows and tells” what kind of Kingdom this King would have– using Jesus’s miracles, parables, and displays of power over evil.
Luke, the physician, shows us a Man who has compassion on those who are suffering. His gospel gives the physical details that a good doctor might see, the kind of doctor who sees the patient, not just the disease. Men and women, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, young and old are equally loved by this Jesus, who lives the life we were meant to live.
John shows us the Son of God, starting his story “in the beginning” before the worlds began. He is the most selective with his miracles, choosing only a few to illustrate displays of power that could only come from God himself. Jesus’s seven “I am” statements punctuate this gospel, defining him as the “one we’ve been waiting for.” John concludes his work by admitting that no gospel can tell the whole story.
What about Mark’s gospel? What was his camera angle?
Seeing Jesus Through Mark’s Eyes
Mark shows us Jesus the servant. He doesn’t waste time on background or genealogies, but presents Jesus’s life as an action movie, cutting quickly from scene to scene with little commentary. It is a breathless pace. It is also Peter’s version of Jesus life, crafted for us by Mark. As such, it faithfully reflects Peter’s testimony about Jesus, given to the Roman centurion Cornelius:
He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.Acts 10:38b
What a summary! Doing good and healing all…. Can you picture him? That’s our goal in this study. Simply to see Jesus as Peter did. As Mark wrote. Then to take that picture with us into our day.
Now, let’s set some goals for this study.
Our Goal? To See Him.
In fact our goal is the same it is every time we open our Bibles, to see Jesus better. Why? First because all Scripture is about him, pointing forward to his coming work or back to his finished work (Luke 24:27). Second because when we see Jesus we see the Father (John 14:9), who made us to know him so we could be fully alive (John 17:3). And third because seeing Jesus is the catalyst for our personal transformation to become like him (1 John 3:2).
What portrait of Jesus is waiting for us on the pages of Mark’s Gospel? It’s a picture of the Servant King, the King who stooped to serve us by dying to save us. Mark 10:45 is generally recognized as the summary verse:
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.Mark 10:45
Servants don’t talk, they do. That’s why this gospel is much more full of action than words. Count how many times he uses the word, “immediately.” Notice how often he speaks in the present tense. See how many miracles are recorded and how relatively few teachings. In the words of Pastor and Author Kent Hughes:
Christ’s life is portrayed as super busy (he even had trouble finding time to eat–see 3:20 and 6:31)…You are also brought face to face with the human emotions of Jesus and the astonishment of the multitudes. Mark is the “Go Gospel–the Gospel of the Servant-Savior.”
His Goal? To Change Us.
Kent Hughes answers this question, too, “What will this gospel make of us?”
It will make us servants like the Master, effective servants who do not run on theory but on action.
I can’t think of any better focus, especially for the woman among us. We’re doers! While the men are still sitting around talking the women are up doing. One afternoon recently my daughters and I were racing around the house throwing loads of laundry in the machine, getting kids up from naps, starting dinner, picking up toys, when we happened to look in the living room. There sat all the husbands, tablets in hand, playing an online game together. Bonding.
Let’s just say it didn’t bless us.
Resentment instantly springs to life in moments like these. Servant activity can grind to a halt and be replaced with ugly, hands on the hips judgment. Snarky comments sneak past our lips. Must be nice to have all that FREE TIME! Sarcasm drips out: may I bring you another pillow? rub your feet? get you a snack?
Of course, the men folk have their own temptations when it comes to serving the people around them. Their shoulders are piled high with responsibilities–from providing income to fixing what breaks to scanning the horizon for potential problems and opportunities. It’s no wonder they need a break.
In other words, we all need the Servant Savior to save us in our serving.
Don’t Miss Him.
That’s why I must add this word of caution. It’s possible to miss seeing Jesus, even in the gospels. How can that be? It’s because of our inclination to self-improvement rather than salvation. If we just look at Jesus the Servant for an example to follow, we will find the Gospel of Mark burdens us with a morality we can’t measure up to. Instead we must interpret this Gospel through the atoning work of Jesus the Servant-Savior, who came to
…give his life as a ransom for many.Mark 10:45b
If I only try to pattern my life after Jesus’s example, I will walk through the living room of ipad mesmerized men and instantly feel self-righteous. Look at those time wasters! Or angry. Why don’t they get up off their duff and help us! Or envious. I wish I had time to goof off like that!
No, I can’t just mimic Jesus, I have to be transformed by faith in his saving work. I have to receive the Spirit of a Servant inside me so I will walk through the room and say, I’m so glad those guys are getting a break!