Mark highlights the growing unrest with the teaching and ministry of Jesus. On one hand his popularity grows and on the other he addresses controversial subjects. Confessing who Jesus is (part 4) does not always mean you will do what he says. The question his disciples must confront is will they follow him when things get hard or even confusing?
Mark contrasts what the religious leaders think about Jesus and what his disciples think about Jesus. In many ways, all of us are blind to knowing Jesus. Knowing who Jesus is does not happen immediately or a one-and-done decision; it is a progressive understanding of who Jesus is and what he came to do. Although we are all blind in one way or another, the difference between the disciples and everyone else is their openness to hear, to learn, and to obey. They constantly leaned in and asked genuine questions, not to trap Jesus, but to learn from Jesus.
Great villains make for great heroes. Before Mark tells the story of Jesus’ showdown with death, he pits Jesus against all kinds of lesser bad guys – demons, sickness, hunger and storms to make the case that Jesus has authority over everything. For Mark’s persecuted readers in Rome, the message is clear – nothing could stop Jesus then, nothing’s going to stop Him now.
Mark records many parables. The first parable he records is the key to all the other parables. It is the key to understanding the secret regarding the kingdom of God (vs. 11-13). Yet very few people will truly listen and lean in to understand Jesus’ secret, the mystery of Christ. Jesus desires that people would not just acknowledge who he is from a distance, but would be curious enough to lean in and try to understand the mysteries of the kingdom. To fully experience the hope of the gospel requires a level of curiosity that keeps us coming back to Jesus for truth and clarity.
Mark begins his narrative by describing who Jesus is, why he came, and what he brought to the world. Jesus’ identity as the son of God makes it even more amazing how compassionate he is to us. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a key phrase in understanding Mark’s narrative. His life and ministry (his teaching, healing, and compassion) was and continues to be good news. This good news is hope to the world, especially to those who are hurting, broken, and living amidst chaos and confusion.