The most concise biography of God’s genius plan is found in the book of Mark. The apostle Mark was born in Jerusalem and his mother hosted prayer groups in her home.
Mark’s style of writing was very different than Matthew. God picked the perfect guy to speak to the cruel and hard audience of Rome. As the Roman culture valued common sense, Mark understood that they would be bored with the tracing of anyone’s genealogy. Mark wasted none of their time as he spoke plainly, but with excitement. “God is here with us right now, and He wants to help us!”
The good news recorded by Mark is precise and to the point. His portrayal of Jesus was that he was a humble servant. Mark did not use quotations of prophets because the Romans never studied the scriptures. Mark skips over the first years of the life of Christ as he begins with John the Baptist, a wild looking man who wore camel hair as he ate locusts.
Over and over it is clear that God often chooses odd characters to do His will. God often picks “the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” (1 Corinthians 1:27) All four Gospels record the birth, life, miracles, and healing ministry of Jesus Christ. Mark used the least amount of words to tell the story.
As God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power, Jesus faithfully said only what God gave him to say, just as he did all that His Father asked Him to do. “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” (John 5:19) Mark repeats the unending work of the Servant Jesus. In his account we read that Jesus did this, and the servant Jesus said that; to help, to heal, to set the people free. The Romans are a people who are all about getting things done. Mark’s direct plain language helped them understand. The phrase “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” helps us to remember, that as we share the Gospel, we should consider the language, and the attention span of those who are listening?
In chapter 4 Mark tells how a crowd gathered to hear Jesus talk about a farmer who went out to sow his seed. The disciples asked about the meaning of the parable; “Then Jesus said, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’ The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, (Jesus quotes Isaiah 6:9) ‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and every hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven.’ As believer’s we are given eyes to see and perceive what God wants us to see, and ears to hear what the Spirit is saying so that we may fully understand. Jesus explains the seed parable to the curious disciples. “The farmer sows the word. Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word making it unfruitful. Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop – thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.” (4:13)
Jesus returned to his home town with his disciples and began teaching in the synagogue. The locals who heard Jesus were amazed and asked; “What’s this wisdom that has been given to him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter?” The people who grew up with Jesus took offense to His teachings. “Jesus said to them, ‘Only in his home town, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.” (6:4)
In chapters 6-10 we find the story of Jesus sending out the twelve disciples; and the miracle of when Jesus fed the 5,000; and when He astounded the disciples by walking on water; and how Jesus compassionately cares for the sick and hungry. A rich man asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life? Jesus tells the young man not to murder, steal, lie, or commit adultery and to honor his parents. The wealthy man replied that he has done all these things. Jesus knew what this rich man valued above God, He knew what he treasured. So Jesus replied with love. “One thing you lack’, ‘Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” The rich man’s face fell and he went away sad because he could not part with his great wealth.
Our Father sees us clearly for what we are and He always challenges us to look deep and examine our own hearts. A well educated teacher of the law asked; which one of the commandments was most important? Jesus answered; “The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no commandment greater than these.” (12:29)
“Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues…and they will place their hand on sick people and they will get well.” (16:15)
Because Jesus is still alive, today we continue to hear of countless miracles. The Holy Spirit still works in us and through us.
All Scripture References in
“A Reader’s Delight” are from:
NIV Study Bible, EBook, Red Letter Edition. 2011. Zondervan.
Copyright © 2019 by Barbara Alley Hoyle
All rights reserved.