QI fact: Mark’s Greek nickname was Colobodactolus which means ‘stubby fingered’! Hardly the most flattering of names for the writer of a gospel, but then Mark is not the most obvious author of such an account. Although he spent time with Jesus he was not one of the apostolic band and any references to Mark himself in the gospels are cryptic and elusive. He does appear again later in the New Testament but only ever as a ‘number two’; first as an assistant to Barnabas, then Paul and Barnabas together and finally to Peter. It was from spending time with Peter that he gathered together the material for his account of the Good News about Jesus.
Mark captures Peter’s sense of action and adventure by emphasising what Jesus did more than what he said, prioritising miracles over parables and discourses. Unlike most modern biographies, a third of the book concentrates on the last week of Jesus’ life. The snappy, news bulletin style appeals to 21st century people used to sound-bites and tweets, making this a refreshing way to encounter Jesus. In this book Mark exposes us to the manifestation of the Kingdom of God. He also depicts Peter’s weaknesses rather than his strengths pointing to a concern to ensure we focus on the person and work of Jesus.
During October and November we will be ‘Exploring Mark’ on Sunday mornings to complement ‘Exploring Christianity’ midweek. If you have never read a gospel from beginning to end in one sitting I encourage you to read Mark this coming week. It will take you between 30-45minutes and will give you a broad overview of Jesus’ life that will open your eyes again to the things he did and said.
My prayer over the next two months is that however long you have been following Jesus you will find your walk revitalised as together we take a fresh look at him through the eyes of Mark.
This blog post featured in the October 2013 edition of Lifelines