On Sunday we started a new sermon series on the Gospel of Jesus: According to Mark. I totally underestimated how much time it would take to adequately introduce the book of Mark and was unable to answer all three questions that were posed on Sunday Morning.
We were able to answer our first question "Who is the Author." We determined that the author had to be someone who had heard, witnessed, and experience the power of the Gospel. After looking at the many testimonies and biblical accounts related to John-Mark, I think we can safely say that Mark was someone who fits that criteria and that we can trust that his account of Jesus' life and ministry are accurate and useful to our understanding of the Gospel.
I would like to answer the other two questions that were posed but left unanswered on Sunday due to time constraints.
Who is the Audience?
It is important to understand who the original audience is because scripture cannot mean something to us today that it didn't mean to the original audience. We have already determined the best criteria for the author of a Gospel but what kind of audience would need to hear the message of the Gospel? Does the audience fit that criteria?
I am going to suggest that Mark wrote his Gospel because he that his audience were people who desperately needed to be reminded of some good new.
On Sunday we looked at three historical testimonies the confirmed Mark as the author of the Gospel and Peter as the source of the eyewitness material. One of those testimonies, shared that Mark penned his gospel after the death of Peter and Paul, and in Italy. These two facts give us contextual clues as to what would have been true of Mark's audience. Thee clue is written after Peter and Paul's death. This places the writing of the Gospel to happen somewhere in the late 60's AD. And it means that the church had just suffered the loss of two pretty important preachers of the Gospel in a highly violent way. Both Peter and Paul were martyred for their stand that Jesus is the Son of God and must a believers one and only King.
The other historical influence that was happening at this time came from the leadership of the Roman Empire. The death of Peter and Paul happens toward the end of Nero's reign. If you are familiar with history you would know that Nero was a vicious and self seeking ruler who probably burned Rome just to have a reason to blame and persecute Christians. Finally during this time period the Roman Empire had tired of the political and religious tension that existed between the Romans and Jerusalem and the began the hostile takeover of the land of Israel that resulted in the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. With all of this going on in the Roman world I would suggest that those who Mark had in mind as his primary audience would be:
What is the Message
Our final question from Sunday was "What is Message?" When we begin studying any passage of scripture we rely upon the context to help us understand what the author was intending on communicating to their original audience so we can best apply those truth's to our own lives. Each Gospel writer had a different approach to sharing the life of Jesus due to the audience and message they were sharing. For instance the Gospel of Matthew is highly directed toward a Jewish audience and reinforces the truth that Jesus is the King of Kings entitled to sit on the throne of David forever.
We just established that the audience of Mark were people who needed to hear some good news. Let me suggest that Mark's primary message to this audience is that the Good New is that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God. In the opening verse of the Gospel Mark declares that this is the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This sets the stage for the content to follow. Mark intentionally supports this message through the careful organization of the events and teaching of Jesus' life and ministry. Mark does not include every event that the other Gospel writers include, the fact is Mark's account is the shortest and most concise account of the life of Jesus. But everything included in the words and pages are meant to point the audience to the fact that Jesus is the Son of God come to save the world from their sin and suffering by suffering in their place, ultimately on the cross. The following are ways that Mark conveys that message in his Gospel:
As we journey together through the book of Mark, I hope that we recognize that Mark's testimony reinforces our belief that it is Jesus and Jesus alone who can save us and lead us as our King. I also hope that we are reminded that, no matter the uncertainty of life that we face, we have the assurance that Jesus is the Son of God and His saving work has provided us new life today and for eternity.
Spend learning the truths of the Gospel, Rehearsing those truths to yourself, and Sharing those truths with others. If we can do this together than I believe our community will be transformed by power of Gospel of Jesus.
- Pastor Derreck