Beads of sweat gathered across Hugh’s forehead when he heard the question coming from David’s mouth. David, a recent addition to Hugh’s Sunday School class and highly inquisitive, asked the one question Hugh knew he couldn’t answer on the spot.
Busyness at work, children’s ball games, picking up the children from track practice, a late deacon’s meeting on Wednesday evening, an anniversary party on Friday night, and yard work on Saturday had robbed Hugh of his normal study time.
“Hugh, why do you think John Mark wrote his Gospel? What purpose do you think he had? Why can’t I find one verse that states it?” queried David.
Hugh’s heart pumped blood faster. Hugh felt out of control. He ran a mental search of his mind struggling to conjure an answer.” Nothing arrived on the screen of his mind. Out of defeat Hugh sighed. The question he feared the most, now stood at his doorstep.
What will I do?
Time stopped for Hugh. No one else in the room mattered. He buried himself in his thoughts. I must trust what I have studied in the past about Mark’s Gospel. “Help me, Lord.”
Two sentences flashed across Hugh’s mind. “Mark had no conscious teaching goal in mind when he wrote the Gospel.
Arriving from his short mental trip, Hugh said, “David, Mark wrote to present a realistic life of Jesus. Mark has Jesus arriving during a situation, speaking a few words, and then, Jesus is gone, having solved the issue. Mark felt the message demanded a simple recording because the work of Jesus exceeded Mark’s ability to explain it.”
“Notice how Mark presents struggles, understandings, resolutions, and choices so he can show first hand the nature and ministry of Jesus.”
“Luke writes from the view point of reverential faith, Mark from that of living vivid recollection.”
“David, I think Mark shared the most intimate details with is readers as he recollected the events in the ministry of Jesus. For example, Jesus wearies before falling to sleep (Mark 4:38). Jesus reacts to suffering with a strong compassion (1:41) (splagchnisthesis), – the strongest emotional Greek word for being moved by suffering.”
David added, “I agree, Hugh. I noticed Jesus spoke with firmness (1:43), experienced anger (3:5, 10:14). Jesus knew about weariness of mind and distress (14:33f). Jesus asked questions to gain information (5:30, 8:5, 9:16).”
“Would you say Mark added eye-witness facts when he stated that Jesus slept on a cushion in the stern of the boat in Mark 4?” questioned another student.
“Yes, and how about the details of the Gaderene demoniac cutting himself with stones and screaming in the tombs. That sounds like recollected ideas to me,” suggested another student.
“And who can forget the ‘green’ grass on which the 5000 were fed?” asked still another.
“I like the personal details about the man born blind, Jesus compassionately took him aside, touched his eyes. Yet the healing was partial, so he saw men like trees (8:24). Then, Jesus touched him a second time. That sounds like someone with fond memories,” stated David.
“And who can forget when Jesus saw the rich, young ruler that Jesus loved him as He looked at him (10:21),” Hugh piped in.
“I really like how only Mark tells us that Jesus took the children up in the bend of his arm (9:36, 10:16),” exclaimed another student.
“Each of those indicate Mark has fond memories about Jesus and His ministry which he shares in his Gospel,” summed Hugh.
“With the time left, let me share a few things I managed to jot down while you discussed why and how Mark wrote his gospel.”
“First, Mark uses Aramaic phrases when he records the words of Jesus (3:17, 5:41, 7:11, 14:36, 15:22, 24). Most likely Peter slipped into the ancient language he recalled Jesus using and Mark adds a translation for his readers.”
“In a related manner, Mark uses Latinisms. Latinism are Latin terms Mark transliterated into Greek. For example, Kenturion (15:39, 44) – centurion; spekoulator (6:27) – speculator; and kensos – census (12:14).”
“Mark prefers to use certain words repeatedly: euthus – immediately. “Immediately appears 41 times in the Gospel. Chapter1 possesses the first ten appearances. This produces more than a mere march through Mark’s Gospel, Mark sprints through the ministry of Jesus using this feature.”
“Have you noticed Mark likes to use the word “palin” ‘again?” Like ‘immediately’ it occurs frequently in Mark’s gospel – 25 times or more.”
“Finally, Mark relates the ministry of Jesus much a like a child. Unlike Paul who loves to add subordinate clauses to the main statement, Mark piles statements one after the other. Check out chapter 3. Out of the 35 verses found in chapter 3, 29 begin with “and.”
“Class, next week, we will explore several other major purposes about why Mark wrote his gospel. This week we merely ascertained one of Marks’ purposes: to make the Gospel story of Jesus just as memorable for his readers as it was for him. Simply stated, Mark penned what he knew about Jesus.”
Would you list a few events from the life of Jesus that you feel MUST be included in any presentation of the life of Jesus?
A. B. Bruce, The Expositor’s Greek Testament, vol 1., (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980), 32.