The Good News According to Mark
This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.
An Introductory Note from Mark
If you’ve recently joined the growing group of those who receive these Daily Reflections, I’d first like to welcome you. I’m honored that you’ve chosen to allow me to help you grow in your relationship with God through daily reflection on his Word.
During the summer, I take a few weeks off from writing new reflections. This break allows me to catch my spiritual breath, so to speak. Beginning on July 23, 2013, and continuing through September 1, 2013, we'll be sending out reflections on the Gospel of Mark, covering the first half of the Gospel this year (saving the second half for later). I wrote these reflections a few years ago, but trust that they will continue to help you grow in your devotion and service to God. In early September, we'll return to Ephesians so that we might complete our devotional reflections on this amazing book.
For the sake of my new readers, let me explain that my ultimate goal in these Reflections is to make my way through the whole Bible. At the rate I’m going, this will take at least ten years. But, Lord willing, this goal will someday be fulfilled. I have chosen not to go through the Bible in order, however. For the sake of variety and integration, I go back and forth between the Old Testament and the New Testament. I also focus on different genres of writings. You can easily search our archives by topic, book of the Bible, and chapter using the customized search screen on our Daily Reflections page.
Finally, I want to thank those of you who have sent me an email in response to these Reflections. You have honored me by sharing the deep things of your heart and have encouraged me with your kind words. I feel blessed to have the privilege of sharing these Reflections with you.
We know surprisingly little for sure about the writing of the Gospel of Mark. Tradition holds that Mark was an associate of Peter, and there are good reasons for accepting this claim. It’s likely that Mark wrote sometime in the 60s A.D., but we can’t be sure of this dating. Unfortunately, the Gospel of Mark did not come with an introduction that explained matters of authorship, date, setting, and so forth.
The majority of biblical scholars today, representing a wide range of theological perspectives, believe that Mark was the first Gospel to be written, and that Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source for their own narratives. A few scholars believe that Mark relied on Matthew. Others suggest that John also knew Mark. No matter how we sort out the details of the relationships between the Gospels, it is certain that Mark wielded powerful influence on the early Christian understanding of Jesus. This Gospel continues to do so today.
We call Mark and the other biblical writings about Jesus Gospels because they express in narrative form the Gospel/Good News of God’s work in Jesus. In Greek, the word euaggelion means, literally, “good news.” This was also the original meaning of the English word “gospel” (god=good, spel=story). Thus, older translations of Mark 1:1 would say something like, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (KJV). Mark did not mean, however, “the beginning of the piece of writing called a Gospel.” Rather, he was saying, “This is the beginning of the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” This Good News would be found in the true story found in Mark’s Gospel.
As we begin these reflections on the Gospel of Mark, we would do well to take seriously what Mark tells us he’s writing about. This isn’t just an interesting historical narrative. It isn’t some piece of arcane scholarship. Nor is it meant simply to entertain. Rather, Mark is passing on Good News, the best news of all, in fact. What we will find in this Gospel is Good News that will change our lives and ultimately change our world. As we reflect upon Mark together, let’s be attentive to the Good News it contains and how this news can transform our lives.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: When you hear the word “gospel,” what comes to mind? When have you heard a story that contained good news? How did you react to this story? Apart from the Good News about Jesus, have you ever received good news that changed your life?
PRAYER: Gracious Lord, as we embark on this reflective study of the Gospel of Mark, I first want to thank you for your Word, for the manifold ways it teaches us, corrects us, comforts us, and inspires us. What a joy and privilege to spend time thinking and praying in response to the Scripture.
I also want to pray for all of those who will be joining me in this series of Reflections. May you bless them with insight and knowledge. Speak to them through your Word, so that they might know and serve you.
Thank you for the Gospel of Mark. Thank you for the one who wrote this Gospel and for those who preserved it so that we might have it today. Give me an open heart, Lord, to receive the message of Mark. In particular, may I hear the Good News of Jesus the Messiah in a fresh way ... and may this Good News change my life. Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.