The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.
As we begin our Life for Leaders study in the Gospel of Mark, I thought it might be helpful to provide a bit of background to the book we’ll be examining. 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 AD, 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.
What we will find in this Gospel is good news that will change our lives, our relationships, our work, our purpose for living, and ultimately our world.
The majority of biblical scholars today believe that Mark was the first Gospel to be written, and that Matthew and Luke used Mark as a source for their own narratives. 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. His Gospel continues to do so today.
We call Mark and the other biblical writings about Jesus “Gospels” because they express in narrative form the “good news” of God’s work in Jesus. In Greek, the word euaggelion, often translated as “gospel,” 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 about Jesus called a Gospel.” Rather, he was saying, “This is the beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” This good news is found throughout the true story found in Mark’s Gospel.
As we begin our series of Life for Leaders devotions 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 or ancient biography. Nor is it meant simply to entertain. Rather, Mark is passing on good news. In fact, what we will find in this Gospel is good news that will change our lives, our relationships, our work, our purpose for living, and ultimately our world. As we reflect upon Mark together, let’s be attentive to the good news it contains, and how this news can transform every part of our lives.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
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?
Gracious God, as we embark on our devotional study of the Gospel of Mark, we 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.
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 us an open heart, Lord, to receive the message of Mark. In particular, may we hear the good news of Jesus the Messiah in a fresh way . . . and may this good news change our lives, and through us, our world. Amen.