His disciples are called to lives of self-sacrificial service for others, just as Jesus gave his life a ransom for many – Mark 10:35-45.
After predicting his trial and execution, the disciples jockeyed for position in Christ’s reign over his kingdom. In words and deeds, he taught them previously that kingdom citizenship means a life of self-sacrificial service to others. But as he approached Jerusalem, even his closest followers demonstrated a very different vision of what it meant to “rule” over others in his domain.
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In the ministry of Jesus, the kingdom of God arrived as announced by John the Baptist – Mark 1:1-3.
The gospel of Mark begins with a declaration from the Hebrew Bible that sets the stage for the messianic mission of Jesus Christ. Thus, it opens on a distinct note of fulfillment. Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel, and with the appearance of John, the long-awaited “season of fulfillment” has begun.
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In Mark, only at his death did the Roman centurion who was present at his execution recognize who Jesus was.
In Mark, all men prove incapable of recognizing who Jesus is, even his disciples. The only exceptions are John the Baptist and the Roman centurion at Golgotha, the very man in charge of his execution. Mark has threaded this theme throughout his gospel to make the point – The Messiah cannot be understood apart from his death on Calvary.
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To be the Messiah means suffering and death, and he summons his disciples to follow the same path – Mark 8:31.
As Jesus approached Jerusalem, he explained exactly what it meant to be the Messiah of Israel, namely, suffering and death, an expectation contrary to popular expectations and those of his disciples. And he also summoned anyone who would become his disciple to take up the cross and follow his self-sacrificial example. And failure to do so would render one an object of shame before the Lord of Glory.
Continue reading EMBRACING THE CROSS
After Jesus healed the blind man, for a fleeting moment, the eyes of Peter were opened to “see” just who he was – Mark 8:27-38.
Jesus queried his disciples while he was “on the way” to Jerusalem: Who do men say that I am? At least nine times Mark declares that Jesus is “on the way.” His march to Jerusalem and his inevitable death was in fulfillment of Joh’s proclamation from the words of Isaiah: “I send my messenger before your face who shall prepare your way.”
Continue reading WHOSOEVER WILL FOLLOW ME
The parable of the budding fig tree pointed to the imminent destruction of the Temple that Jesus had predicted – Mark 13:28-29.
The parable of the “budding fig tree” provides a graphic illustration of Christ’s answer to the question – “When will these things come to pass?” The image of a fig tree sprouting foliage is the clue for the “when” of the events predicted by him. Its foliage signals the arrival of “summer,” the time when “all these things” will be fulfilled.
Continue reading BUDDING FIG TREE