Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Closing Reflections on Mark's Gospel

Last Sunday I preached the 52nd and final message in our Sunday morning expositional series through the Gospel of Mark. The first message in the series was preached on September 16, 2007. As I conclude the series, I thought of five things that this study of Mark impressed on me:

1. The focus on the gospel. The first words of the book are, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (1:1). Among the final words are the Great Commission: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" (16:15). In between these two book-ends is the good news of the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord.

2. The centrality of the cross. I remarked several times in the study that Mark has been called "a passion narrative with an extended introduction." This Gospel reminds us of the centrality of the cross work of Christ in our faith. Maybe the key verse of the Gospel is found in Mark 10:45: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

3. Jesus is our great prophet, priest, and king. I was struck by how Jesus is presented as a prophet who predicts things that will happen from where his disciples will celebrate the Passover (14:13-16) to his second coming at the end of the ages (13:26-27). He is a perfect priest who is also the perfect sacrifice offered to God. He is the king whose coronation is in humiliation. As Peter confessed, "You are the Christ" (8:29).

4. The continuity and harmony of the four canonical Gospels. In reading Mark, I was often comparing Matthew, Luke, and John. I was reminded of God’s wisdom in these four distinct witnesses, all of which aim to bring the hearers to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that believing we might have life in his name (John 20:31-32).

5. The reliability of the traditional text of Mark including the ending of the Gospel. This study of Mark gave me opportunity to think again about issues related to the text of Scripture and to reaffirm that the ending of this Gospel is Markan, inspired, and canonical.

Mark has been a faithful companion and teacher over the past year or so. I know I am the better for this study, and I pray it has been a blessing to our body.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
Note: Evangel 3.17.09

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