Christ in Mark

January 12, 2022

God-man of action
From start to finish, Jesus is the uncontested subject of the Gospel of Mark, and he is portrayed as a man of action. The action of the Gospel is all-important to the meaning of the Gospel, for we learn who Jesus is not so much from what he says as from what he does. In this respect, Mark writes with a paintbrush.

Although Jesus is often referred to as a teacher, when compared to Matthew or Luke, Mark is not focused on the content of his teaching as much his actions. It is quickly apparent that the person of the 'teacher' is Mark's aim. He wishes to to hold up as important

In his book, A Theology of Mark’s Gospel, Theologian David Garland, thinks Mark as presenting Jesus “as the Messiah and the Son of God and to show that his shameful death on a cross was part of God’s plan for the redemption of humanity.”(1)

Garland considers the Christology of mark To be an Enacted Christology. “Mark developed his Christology through narrative. That is, the audience learns Jesus’ identity and significance for their lives through story.”(2)

In Mark, we discover Jesus as Messiah, Son of God, through his actions and deeds. Mark gives a consistent balanced christology, describing Jesus with divine and human characteristics.  But it is through the whole narrative from beginning to end that Mark describes Christ in high definition to add clarity to the portrait of Jesus, he is presenting.

Jesus the Authoritative Son of God
Mark’s Jesus is authoritative: He calls disciples and they follow him; people are amazed and listen attentively when he speaks; even unclean spirits obey his commands. In the opening chapters His authority is clearly on display.

Jesus the controversial Son of God
According to Mark, the religious leadership opposed Jesus. In chapter 2, Mark gives four stories about the controversy Jesus stirred up. The religious leaders were offended by his confrontation of their self-righteousness, ethnocentrism and the correction he brought to their misinterpretation of the Torah. Despite this animosity, Jesus never opposed Judaism as a religion. Jesus as the Jewish messiah. He came to be the fulfillment of it.

Jesus the Misunderstood Son of God
In the first half of the Gospel, only five individuals or groups know Jesus’ identity: 1.) God, 2.) Jesus, 3.) the evil spirits, 4.) the author, and 5.) the reader. Not even his family or closest disciples understand who he is. It is not until the middle of the Gospel that his disciples begin to realize that Jesus is the Son of God. And this they know, in part, at best.

Jesus the Suffering Son of God
Mark portrayed Jesus as the suffering servant of Isaiah’s servant songs. Jesus even predicts his death three times in this Gospel, and the latter part of Mark’s Gospel focuses exclusively on Jesus’ the events leading up to the crucifixion. Mark explains that it is precisely because Jesus is the messiah that he must die: His death will serve as “a ransom for many” (10:45). The narrative continues with Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, teaching at the Temple, arrest, and trials before the Sanhedrin and Pilate.

Jesus the Crucified Son of God
Even at the end, Jesus’ disciples do not understand his identity and mission. Judas hands him over, Peter denies him, and the others scatter to avoid arrest. Jesus is left to die alone. Though he was alone, He would not die in vain. What was accomplished in those three hours changed everything. Mark uses two events at Jesus’ death to illustrate the reality of what Jesus has done for sinful broken humanity. First, when Jesus dies, the curtain into the Holy of Holies is torn from top to bottom. Not a bottom up work but a top down act of Grace signifying open access. Through this story, Mark implies that after Jesus’ sacrificial death, all people, not just the high priest, have full access to God. Second, and even more striking, is the Roman centurion at the cross who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son. The man who killed Jesus, recognizes Jesus as God’s son. Throughout the Gospel, all of the Jews, including Jesus’ closest followers, fail to recognize Jesus for who he is. Ironically, and deeply consistent with the Scope of Christ’s work, it is a Gentile with Christ’s blood on his hands, who first confesses this truth. Taken Together, the two points form a profound truth, on the grounds of Jesus’ work on the cross that (1) their is open access for all, (2) access to God only comes through Jesus.


1. David E. Garland, A Theology of Mark’s Gospel: Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2015) 25

2. David E. Garland, A Theology of Mark’s Gospel: Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2015) 262



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