Wednesday, February 15, 2017

February 15

Exodus 39:1-40:38; Mark 1:1-28; Psalm 35:1-16; Proverbs 9:11-12

Life is full of beginnings and endings, starts and stops, new and old. This morning, I remember last year, when I nursed my almost 14-month-old for the last time. An ending and a beginning. A little sad, but also exciting as well. Today we have an ending as we close up Exodus, and a new beginning as we start into the gospel of Mark. We are making good progress, and I am excited to see what new and old things the Lord will continue to reveal to us as we plunge ahead into his living word.

As we begin to engage in this new gospel of Mark, some background information might be useful to help guide us in our study. How is this gospel different than Matthew? What truths are revealed in it? Who is this Mark guy and how well did he really know Jesus? Most writers agree that Mark was probably the first person to write a gospel, with the authorship date possibly as early as AD 65. In fact, Matthew and Luke both seem to draw off of Mark while they are writing their own gospels. Although there is no direct internal evidence of authorship, most biblical scholars agree that this gospel was written by John Mark, who traveled with Paul and Barnabas one their first missionary journey in Acts (Acts 13:5). He was also a close associate of the apostle Peter.  Peter called him “Mark, my son” (1 Pet. 5:12), and may even have lead Mark to a belief in Christ.  In any case, most scholars believe that Mark relied heavily on the testimony of Peter while writing his gospel. According to early church tradition, Mark was probably written somewhere in Italy and intended for the church in Rome, or at least for Gentile readers. Mark seems to explain in more detail the Jewish customs, translates Aramaic words, and draws more on themes, such as martyrdom and persecution, that would be of interest to Gentile readers.

Maybe that was too much background, but I believe it’s helpful in understanding God’s own word in our lives if we can first have an understanding of his words for the original audience. Each gospel is unique and different, and yet they are all joined together in proclaiming the one Gospel of good news for all people.  And, boy, is Mark different than Matthew already. We already covered Jesus’ birth, baptism, temptation, and on into his teaching and miracles in the first chapter! It’s like Mark can’t wait to hurry up and get to the good news of the cross. Let’s hold on and journey with him for a fast paced and exciting ride.

- Mary Matthias

*Background information compiled from and

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