I have just started teaching a Christianity Explored course, in which we work through the book of Mark in the Bible to discover the answers to some key questions:
- Who was Jesus?
- Why did he come?
- What is involved in following him?
I have decided to blog our discoveries, so that you too can examine the answers we find. I won’t be going over everything in detail – it would take too long – and you can read Mark for yourself in a little over an hour. If you don’t have a copy or would prefer to read online, you can find it here.
The book of Mark is the shortest of the Gospels, and very like journalism in style – short and to the point. Only the facts. It begins with this statement: The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The word gospel means good news. Mark’s stated aim in writing this account is to tell you the good news about Jesus: he is the Son of God. What that means and how it is revealed will be developed in the book.
Mark points out that one of God’s messengers over 600 years before had promised that someone would come to prepare the way for the coming of someone called the Lord. John the Baptist came in exactly the way that was promised. He warned the people to change their hearts because someone was coming who would be so much greater than John, that John in comparison would be even less than a lowly servant. When Jesus was baptised by John, the voice of God himself declared that Jesus was God’s Son.
Mark begins to tell the story of Jesus by giving five blocks of evidence about who he was:
- He had power and authority to teach (Mark 1:21-22). The teachers of the law in those days only gave their opinions on what was recorded. Jesus had fresh things to say that amazed people.
- He had power and authority over sickness (Mark 1:29-31, 32-34, 40-42, 3:5). Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law from a fever and was soon healing many people from many diseases, including a man with leprosy and a man with a shrivelled hand. He didn’t make a fuss, just a touch or a word, and they were well.
- He had power and authority over nature (Mark 4:35-41). When a violent storm arose over the Sea of Galilee and threatened to sink their ship, Jesus stopped the storm instantly with a word. The wind died and the sea became calm at once, instead of taking time for the turbulence to subside.
- He had power and authority over death (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43). Jesus awoke a little girl from death as easily as you or I can awake someone from sleep.
- He had power and authority to forgive sin (Mark 2:1-12). When some friends brought a paralysed man to Jesus, he forgave his sin. Jesus obviously thought that that was a bigger problem than being paralysed! The trouble is, sin is rebellion against God, not acknowledging our creator. Surely if you offend someone, only that person can forgive you? So only God can forgive our sin. When Jesus forgave the man’s sin, the teachers of the law called it blasphemy. So to prove he had the authority and the power to forgive sin, Jesus healed the man, who got up and walked away, after being totally paralysed.
In the space of just five chapters, Mark has shown that this is no ordinary man. He has power and authority that belongs to God alone. Even today, those who think Jesus was a good man, a great teacher, cannot hold that opinion against such evidence.
So who do you think Jesus was now?