The Gospel of St. Mark

FEATURES TO BE NOTED

There are special terms used and incidents referred to in St. Mark that do not appear in the other evangels. The following references serve as examples.

The ministry of Peter’s mother-in-law after her recovery — ch. 1:31; Christ’s method of early rising and eager effort to preach — ch. 1:35-39; His manifest grief at their hardness of heart — ch. 3:5; the misunderstanding of his kinsfolk — ch. 3:20,21; the marked earnestness of the sower — ch. 4:27-29; the meaningful expression “even as he was” — ch. 4:36; the mindful interest — ch. 5:36; the members of his family named — ch. 6:3-6; the message of considerateness — ch. 6:31; the measures taken for concealment, fail — ch. 7:24; the majesty of his command “Ephphatha” — ch. 7:34; the man of Bethsaida — ch. 8:22; the mention of “rebuke” — ch. 8:33; the means of taking by the hand and by the arms — ch. 9:27,36; the matchless gesture toward children — ch. 10:16; the mournful reply “of a child” — ch. 9:21; the magnitude of the stone — ch. 16:4; the marvelous touch of tenderness in the words, “and Peter” — ch. 16:7; the passing of judgment on servants and stewards and the national selection in which the sheep are divided from goats do not enter the picture. Yea, even the tremendous claim of ‘all power’ is omitted.

In Matthew we saw that the personality and originality of Christ were unique. In Mark we are now to discover that the universality and singularity of Christ are undeniable.

Matthew pictured the royalty of His kingship. Mark discloses the loyalty of His executorship. St. Mark's gospel has not been given sufficient attention, and, as a consequence, the indispensable part it plays in the history of the manifestation of redemption has not been appreciated nearly enough. The adequacy of Christ's power and the supremacy of His position which are so clearly defined in this brief record need reemphasizing at the present time, for they are as inescapable as they are important.

The special feature to be noted of the universality of Christ is His heirship to the entire inheritance and the striking relationship He holds to all humanity. This accounts for the momentous encounter with the usurper that is depicted, the puncturing of the enemy’s sinister armor and the wresting away of the authority from his sordid hands. The very feature itself makes room for the fullest expression of the malign forces of the opposition that are marshaled for resistance in a vain attempt to withstand the superior and prior rights of the true Heir. We are not startled, therefore, to find more references to the devil and demons than in any other book in the New Testament. The disrupting issues of sin, the dislocation wrought among nations, disease with its ravaging distress, and death, the tragic goal of all these, are prevailed over gloriously by the Kinsman-Redeemer. He it is Who foils the enemy's strategy, shames his enmity, pays the full ransom for the recovery of the estate, and ascends to the right hand of the Majesty on high to administer this ransom purchase, and issue the proclamation of deliverance.

What figure could have been more aptly chosen to set forth the universality of Christ's work than the description He gave of Himself as the Stronger One entering the strong man's house and conquering the world's usurper in order to overcome the universal scourge of death by rising from the tomb? There is nothing whatever about Christ that is narrow or transient, no phase of His character cramps or dwarfs His world.embracing mission. He was unlimited by parentage, unbounded by blood, unhindered by time and place, and undaunted by any conditions whatever.

The gospel is a real masterpiece of beauty and brevity. There are no neutral tints in the radiant portrait, but a rich mingling of gorgeous colorings that time has not faded nor change affected. The glowing stature of His manhood is a rich co.mingling of might and mercy, of vigorous strength and virtuous service. We may trace, as in a steel engraving, the strong lines of delineation setting forth in vivid detail the industry of the servant, and the inheritance of the Son. All too frequently we omit the latter aspect and allow the ministry of His stewardship to obscure from our minds the mission of His heirship; yet it is in this latter capacity that He holds His universal crown.rights and came to seek for the rents due from those in occupation. The key passage bearing on this aspect is contained in ch. 12, from whence we quote verses 6, 8 . "Having yet therefore one son, his well-beloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying 'They will reverence my son.' But those husbandmen said among themselves, 'This is the heir: come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall he ours.' And they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard."

In contrast to this, ch. 10:45 supplies the key paragraph bearing on His ministry, "For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many."

Notice particularly from these two portions that as The Son of man, “He came”, but as the Son and Heir, “He was sent.” To this we have drawn attention on the simple chart outline. The first of these statements comprises a clear reference to His ministry, while the second is a real declaration of His mission.

Christ is most assuredly the unique servant, but in addition to His perfect obedience in that sphere of activity, He was also sent into the realms of the usurped inheritance as the sole Heir of all things, to lay claim to the regalia or rents of the crown property. The conflicts He encountered with the usurper persisted all along the way, from the hour of temptation to the throes of the cross, for everywhere He met with the despoiler's destructive work. Even after the cross the enemy's onslaught did not cease, although his malignant mind had been exposed. He sought to throw discredit on the resurrection and militantly endeavored to frustrate the broadcasting of the news of the conquest by an insidious attack on the witness of the disciples. The recurrence of the words 'devil,' 'Satan,' 'unclean spirits' and 'evil spirits,' which appear thirty.five times in this gospel, reveals how firmly the enemy was entrenched, and how securely he held both the creation and the creature.

On every hand violence and corruption were rampant and the results were expressed in degeneracy, disablement and defeat. The inevitable issue of all satanic activity was to hold mankind in bondage to death and corruption.

In striking contrast to all this aspect of gloom, there opens before us the new horizon with its prospect of glory. The rightful Heir's designation is His title of claim, for Christ is called 'The Son' 28 times in the gospel, as bearing upon His just rights of ownership, 'Son of God,' and of relationship . 'Son of man.'

The suggestion is again borne out in the section of the final unveiling, which is the complement of the earthly activities in Mark, viewed from the heavenly standpoint. In chapter 5, seven seals are appended to the deeds, seven wounds appear in the body that had been prepared for the manifestation, seven horns appear on the Lamb's head, and the seven Spirits of God verify by witness in all the earth to the worthiness of the Redeemer. These figures, combined, display the twenty.eight.fold way in which Christ's authoritative right and legal claim to possession are proved.

As the Son and Heir in Mark's portrayal, Christ moved forward resolutely to assail the domain of the enemy and to fearlessly prosecute His aggressive campaign in every sector of the long established stronghold. He observes with compassionate heart the weltering ruin of man, who presented a sorry spectacle from first to last, as deceived, dethroned and destroyed. Christ had come to undo the works of the devil, and was therefore resisted at every step of advance. How eloquently His activities speak! For in addition to every form of deliverance wrought for man, this obedient servant, in perfect submission, combated the opposer of submission and overcame him. The rightful Heir challenged the destroyer who occupied the estate, and dispossessed him of his ill.gotten gain.

The extremest wrongs and most flagrant injustices were leveled at the Heir at the instigation of the evil one, but, in face of it all, Christ unflinchingly pressed His claims to the uttermost and refused to abandon His mission. Let us remember it was in this servant.like character that He is spoken of as having set His face as a flint, in Isa. 50:7. At the close, the very calumny hurled against Him became another of His priceless crowns, for when the vilest treachery in the ugliest of all betrayals was being perpetrated, the Son of man transmuted the hellish deed and made the occasion contribute another diadem to His enduring conquest. Yea, later, the very chaplet of thorns which was the desperate emblem of a wretched curse, He likewise transfigured into a trophy of triumph. In a contest where all others had succumbed He secured victory and made a coronet of honor out of materials which bore the hallmark of humiliation.

His own almighty power was harnessed through meekness for the lowly service of salvaging mankind from the clutches of an unrelenting foe.

"In weakness like defeat,
He won the mead and crown,
Trod all our foes beneath His feet
By being trodden down."