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Monday, January 30, 2012

The Beginning of the Gospel

Like a string of firecrackers on the Fourth of July, the Gospel of Mark strings together very a concise and very explosive account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel opens with quite a pop: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1)

When Mark was inspired to write this gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ had already been crucified, resurrected and ascended back into heaven. Reading through the book of Acts one is able to grasp what the world was like as the news of Jesus and His followers spread. Today there are many ideas about who Jesus is and what He did and the same was true in the ancient world. Mark wants his readers to know unmistakably who Jesus is, and this is what he means by “the beginning of the gospel.”
The way  “gospel” is used today is not the same as in the ancient world. Presently, we underscore the trustworthiness of a testimony as “the gospel truth.” We describe the integrity of a friend as “gospel.” Mark borrows a familiar word from the culture to say something new. The cultural understanding referred to good news about the Roman emperor, particularly the savior god of the imperial cult. They would refer to “the gospel of Caesar.” Mark introduces a new meaning, “the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” The good news just got better because of the person of the gospel!

So, who is Jesus? Who is the person of this gospel? Mark explains Him with short, explosive statements. He is a person of time and space and the whole world has been reeling since He came. Even the enemies of Jesus can’t discount that Jesus was an actual historical person and not a mythological daydream. His is a human story. I met a very old man who surprised me with his understanding of Jesus, describing him as “the power of God Himself,” an impersonal idea that makes energy. This is why he wore a cross, to direct the Jesus energy around himself. This is the reason Mark writes concerning Jesus. He is a real person.
He is called “Christ.” This is not his last name. His mother and father were not “Mr. and Mrs. Christ.” The word comes from the Greek, “Xristos,” meaning, “anointed one,” implying God’s selection for kingship. This is borrowed from the Hebrew, “Messiah.” While Caesar may be the king of the known world at the time of Mark’s writing, what would be the implication concerning Jesus to the original audience? Do you have the right concept of Jesus? Mark wants to make certain we have the right understanding concerning Jesus.

Jesus is called “Son of God.” A question heard often is “how can Jesus be God’s son?” The ancient world understood what the present does not. “Son of God” is the Messiah’s title and does not refer to “father” and “offspring.” The term means that God stepped into time and space in this person and this is the subject of the gospel, the person of whom Mark will write.
The truth of the good news, is centered on the historical person of Jesus who reigns as king and Savior, God Himself.

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