Summary: Who is Jesus?” His answer is that Jesus is both fully the son of God and fully human, the son of Man. Throughout the Gospel these terms are used and you find the humanity of Jesus portrayed and then next the divinity of Jesus. So from the earliest time in
Jesus, The Son of God
Just a few months ago, we celebrated the birth of Jesus but Mark doesn’t begin the story of Jesus there. Instead, he says the beginning of the Gospel is with Jesus’ baptism. He starts 30 years in the future from Jesus’ birth and so that’s where we begin in Mark’s Gospel. Our aim in this series is to answer two questions each week: “Who is this man Jesus?” and “What does his life mean for our lives today. We could have drawn upon any of the 70,000 books which have been written about Jesus, more than any other historical figure through history. We chose the very first book published about Jesus.
The Gospel of Mark was written by John Mark and sometimes is just called John. In the NT, he’s named 9 times, 8 times in the Book of Acts and the Epistles of Paul and once by Peter in 1 Peter where he calls him, “My son.” He is the cousin of Barnabas and Paul, Barnabas and John Mark went on the very first missionary journey together. John Mark was probably just a teenage boy and was probably going as a helper to the two. After the first stop on the missionary journey, he got cold feet and left Paul and Barnabas and returned to Jerusalem. That caused Paul to doubt John’s faithful so much so that Paul refused to take him opn any other missionary journey. That upset Barnabas and caused a split between Paul and Barnabas. From that time forward each went their separate way and Barnabas took John Mark on his missionary journeys with him. Paul would take Silas, Timothy and others. That division was apparently healed because we have Paul mentioning John Mark in his letters and always affectionately. Paul called for John Mark to come to Rome to be with him before his death. John Mark goes on to be a great apostle of the faith.
Now John Mark never says he wrote the Gospel. The title of this Gospel was added later by the church. Church writers in the first century attributed this Gospel to John Mark and so this has been accepted. Now John Mark was said to have spent the majority of his ministry in Rome where he traveled with Peter, just before Peter’s death. It is said that John Mark went as Peter’s interpreter. So what you find many scholars saying is that ths should be called the Gospel of Peter because it is a collection of Peter’s recollections of Jesus ministry and his time with him. So Peter was a strong influence on the Gospel of Mark but they also believe Paul was a strong influence as well. It was Paul who proclaimed that he was not shamed of the Gospel and in verse 1 John Mark says this is the beginning of the Gospel.
The Gospel of Mark was probably written right after Peter and Paul were put to death in the city of Rome. Emperor Nero was wicked and hated the Christians. So he set fire to the city of Rome with the intent of extinguishing it and blaming the fire on the Christians saying the Roman gods were angry because the Christians would not worship them. This would allow him to raise taxes on the people to rebuild the city of Rome as he wanted to build it. So Paul and Peter and other Christians leaders were rounded up, Peter crucified upside down and Paul beheaded while other Christians were burned at the stake as entertainment for his dinner guests. All this happened around 64-65 AD. And so many scholars believed Mark writes this Gospel to encourage other believers to not give up on their faith. Already at time of the first century, there were questions of whether Jesus was the son of God or a man who was pretending to be so. And so Mark may have been writing this Gospel to provide a balanced approach to the question, “Who is Jesus?” His answer is that Jesus is both fully the son of God and fully human, the son of Man. Throughout the Gospel these terms are used and you find the humanity of Jesus portrayed and then next the divinity of Jesus. So from the earliest time in the church, the church knew that Jesus was both divine and human.
So who is this man? Jesus was a man who was baptized at Bethany beyond Jordan. On this map, we see the location of Jesus’ baptism. First you will see the Sea of Galilee which was really a lake. It is an area that received a lot of rain and is the most fertile land in all of the Middle East. This is the area Jesus grew up in. Now John the Baptist preached and ministered in the area Bethany beyond the Jordan and Jesus made his way down there. The path Jesus took would have been right next to the Jordan River which ends at the Dead Sea which is the lowest body of water on earth, 1000 feet below sea level. The water evaporates very quickly leaving high concentrates of minerals and thus very few things can live in the water and thus its name, the Dead Sea. So Jesus is going to meet John at the Jordan river where John is already baptizing a large number of people.