The context in which the Gospel of Mark enters is chaos. Rome is in upheaval as Emperor Nero, the self-proclaimed son of god who brings the gospel (good news) of Rome to the world, committed suicide. In the leadership vacuum and chaos of ancient Rome, as well as extreme persecution towards the church, Mark steps in with a bold and clear vision of what the gospel (good news) actually is, and who really is the Son of God. His boldness is captured in the opening line of his gospel account, “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God,” (Mark 1:1). With this context in mind, it’s no surprise then that towards the end of his gospel account, Mark captures the moment when a Roman centurion declares “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).
Mark’s subversive and beautiful portrait of Jesus cuts through the chaos of his day as a call to not only know about Jesus the Son of God, but to follow and learn from Him as His disciple. Yet, at the heart of his vision of Jesus and call to discipleship is not merely following a code or set of rules…but entering into a relationship with the One we are invited to follow into a new birth…a new way of being human.
We enter this study of the Gospel of Mark together surrounded by a culture in chaos as well. Though our context is far removed from the 1st century, Mark’s message of who Jesus is cuts through the chaos and mixed messages surrounding Christianity today, and gives us a clear vision to live into that is just as hope-filled in the 21st century as it was in the first.
In the end, we are extended the same invitation as those in Mark’s original audience.
Will you / we follow King Jesus to the cross and be reborn into a new person / people who puts on display a new way to be human?