The Gospel of Mark is the briefest of the four Gospels. The traditional view, which holds that the apostle Peter dictated this record and that Mark was only an amanuensis, has been proven erroneous. Equally incorrect are other theories: the Gospel of Mark was written first and Matthew and Luke copied some material from it; or there was an original record, a common source, that all the Evangelists used. All these opinions are mostly the inventions of men who disbelieve the inspiration of the chosen instruments of God in giving a fourfold picture of His blessed Son on earth. An unswerving faith in the inspiration of the four Evangelists solves all the supposed difficulties and discrepancies of which we hear so much in our days. Inspiration makes error impossible.
Mark was not an apostle. Two apostles were chosen to write Gospel records: Matthew and John. The other two writers, Mark and Luke, did not belong to the twelve. Mark’s and John’s Gospels give us the chronological account, while Matthew and Luke were led by the Holy Spirit not to pen the events chronologically, but to arrange them in such a way as to bring out the distinctive features of their respective Gospels.
The Servant of God
While Matthew described the Lord Jesus Christ as the King, and Luke described Him as the Son of man in His perfection, and John described Him as the true God and eternal Life, Mark described Him as the Servant of God.
It had been announced by the prophets that He would appear as a servant. Isaiah had beheld Him as the Servant of God (Isaiah 53:11). Through Zechariah, the Spirit of God had proclaimed, “Behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch” (Zechariah 3:8).
After Christ had been on the earth in the form of a servant, the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to tell us that He who had ever existed in the form of God “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7).
Mark, himself a servant, was graciously called to give a pen picture of this blessed Servant and to record His toil, His service of love and patience, as well as His mighty works. All that is not definitely related to our Lord as the Servant is carefully omitted by him, and many things omitted by the other Evangelists are added to describe the manner and perfection of the Servant’s work.
The Gospel of Mark begins by emphasizing the deity of our Lord. The Servant is “the Son of God.” This great truth is fully attested by His obedience in always doing the will of the Father who sent Him and by His mighty miracles, which accompanied His loving service. If He were not the Son of God, He could not have rendered perfect service.
Sonship and service always go together. Only a son of God can be a servant of God. Grace makes us, if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, sons of God. True service for God is the result of the enjoyment of our sonship. A deeper realization and enjoyment of our sonship will be followed by more obedient and constant service.
When Jesus was baptized and anointed by the reception of the Spirit, He “saw the heavens opened” (Mark 1:10). What an encouraging sight for Him who had taken the lowest place! All God’s servants need the vision of the opened heavens.
God’s Servant, who was absolutely sinless, showed a perfect willingness to take the sinner’s place in death. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
A Pattern for Service
Well may we call the book of Mark the neglected Gospel, for it is the least studied. But we should study it, for God gave it that we His redeemed people might as His servants see in Christ a pattern for our service. As A. Jukes wrote:
Blessed be God that such service has been seen on earth; that there has been such a hand, such an eye, and such a heart here, among the sons of men. And blessed be God, that by the same Spirit He waits to mold us to His pattern, yea, that He has predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His beloved Son. And if the Head was content to serve thus… shall not we whom He has purchased, in whom He seeks to dwell, who are His witnesses in a world which knows Him not, wait upon Him until His mantle fall on us, and His Spirit, “the oil which was upon the Head,” run down even to us also; till we catch the mind of heaven, and are made like unto the angels, children of God and children of resurrection, called to stand in the presence of God, and yet to serve, as ministering spirits to them who shall be heirs of salvation? God is serving,—“the Father worketh,”—Oh! what works of love, from the rain and fruitful seasons up to the mighty work of raising man from earth to highest heaven; and Christ has served and is serving; and the Holy Ghost is serving, taking of the things of Christ, to reveal them to us, and then to work them in us; and angels are serving, and saints are serving, and the Church proclaims her call, that she too because redeemed must be a servant here, and that her rulers are but servants, yea, servants of servants; and heaven is serving earth, and earth the creatures on it. So let us, after our Pattern, being redeemed, go forth to serve also. “Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily, He shall gird Himself, and make them sit down to meat, and He will come forth and serve them.”
Outline Of The Book Of Mark
I. Christ Ministers To Human Need And Distress (1:1-5:43)
A. The Presentation of Jehovah’s Servant (1:1-13)
B. The Work of the Divine Servant (1:14-5:43)
II. Christ Is Opposed, But Continues To Minister (6:1-10:45)
A. Development of Opposition (6:1-56)
B. Tradition versus Revelation (7:1-8:9)
C. Intimations of the Coming Glory (8:10-9:8)
D. The Path of Discipleship (9:9-10:45)
II. Christ Is Rejected, But Is Serving Still (10:46-16:20)
A. The Rejection of the Servant-King (10:46-13:37)
B. The Supreme Sacrifice (14:1-15:47)
C. The Resurrection (16:1-20)