Summary: This is an overview of the gospel of Mark, with particular emphasis upon Jesus’ work in Mark, Peter and others. It shows that fears and failing need not be fatal, and that redemption and restoration are central to God’s plan.
The Servant King
Text: Mark 10:45
Introduction: When I was not long saved, my wife, who was no relation at the time, gave me a little book by John Blanchard called, “Read, Mark, Learn.” by John Blanchard. It was really a book for new Christians, and I can tell you I enjoyed reading through the book of Mark as a new believer, and that little book was a great help to me, so I suppose I have always had a soft spot for the Gospel of Mark.
The Gospel of Mark is, of course, the shortest of the Gospels. Along with Matthew and Luke it forms what is sometimes referred to as the Synoptic Gospels. Synoptic means “viewed together”. These are eyewitness accounts of the life of Christ, and though there is, by necessity, some over lapping details and similarities between them, each gospel has its own distinctive. Last week we saw how Matthew sought to present Jesus as the King of the Jews, with the recurring phrase, “that it might be fulfilled”, but Mark takes a different tact.
For a start, if you read through this little gospel you will notice it contains no genealogy. There is no nativity story, and no record of the early years of Jesus. There is your first clue to Mark’s direction. You will find it carries little of the teachings of Jesus, few parables, no sermon on the mount. What takes up great tracts in Matthew is barely mentioned in Mark. In fact Mark 1 covers in one chapter the ground covered by Matthew in eight! So is Mark shortchanging us? Not at all. Mark is concerned about what Jesus did, far more than what he said. Mark’s gospel presents Jesus as the Servant of the Lord.
That is why no record is given of Jesus’ lineage or birth. Who cares about the birthday or genealogy of a servant? Certainly Romans didn’t care about such things, and neither did the Jews of old. Matthews Gospel gives us much teaching on the kingdom, a term he mentions over 50 times, but Mark speaks of only it 14 times. No, his interest wasn’t so much in Christ the King of the Jews, but in Christ the Servant King. Mark is driven by the works of Christ. So the key verse (Mark 10:45) summarizes this book for us, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” He came to serve and to sacrifice.
Mark wants us to see that, and so his gospel is quickly moving through the life of Jesus from one great act to the next. His favourite word is “eutheos”. It is translated in the Authorised Version by the words “straightway” “immediately” and “forthwith”. (See Mark 1:10, 12, 18, 20, 21, 28, 29, 31, 42). This is a gospel with urgency. It shows Christ to be a man of swift response in meeting needs and solving problems. Twelve out of the sixteen chapters begin with the word “And”. This is a gospel that keeps moving, and it does so to impress upon us the busyness of Christ.
But there is one other conspicuous element to this gospel of Jesus’ deeds and that is the mention of His hands. A servant is a man whose is always at work with his hands. This is the gospel of the servant’s hands: