As we read the book of Mark, we need the Spirit of God to reveal to us the unique message He wants to bring us.
As we look at the Book of Mark, we need the Spirit of God to reveal to us the unique message He wants to bring us. Throughout their lives, God prepared each of the four gospel writers for the task of creating a particular portrait of Christ. The portrait of Christ we see in Mark was written by a menial servant. In Acts 12:25, it says that, “Barnabas and Saul [Paul] returned from Jerusalem ... bringing with them John whose other name was Mark.” In chapter 13 verse 5, it says that, “they had also John [with them] to minister” (KJV). This is the man who later wrote this gospel.
This word "minister" is very interesting. It is used to translate five different Greek words. The word angelos, or angel, is once or twice translated “minister.” The word apostolos, our word apostle, is also translated “minister.” The word diaconos, which has given us the word deacon, can be translated “minister,” as can a fourth word that is a form of the Greek word that has given us liturgy—it refers to someone who is ministering at spiritual things.
The fifth word that is translated “minister” is the one that is used to refer to Mark. It is the lowest of all ranks. The word is huperates, which means an “under–rower.” The Greeks didn’t have steamships; their boats were powered by oarsmen. The lowest rank of slave was positioned in the most difficult spot on the boat and had to do his rowing with a short, unwieldy oar. This is the social rank ascribed to Mark, that of the common workhand, the subordinate, the menial laborer.
Now, a servant doesn’t look at things the same way other men do. As Mark looks at our Saviour, we shall certainly learn how we may serve Him better, for we shall see that God has put us here for that purpose. We shall also learn about our service by looking at the Servant Saviour, as Mark reveals to us the gospel, or good news, of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The central truth of Christianity is a record of historical fact. It is not a philosophy, it is not a system of morality, but it is history. It is the true good new for men and women. It is the story that our brother, for that is what He calls Himself, came and lived and died for us. This feeds our hearts and our minds and our wills; it fills our hopes and nourishes the whole nature into spiritual health. Of all the things that have ever been taught, this story is the only one that deserves the name good news.
- In understanding the scriptures, is the uniqueness of the human author significant?
- What social rank was ascribed to Mark? What does this tell us about Mark?