“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ”
Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ.
It’s generally reckoned to be the first Gospel written, and so carries that especial interest.
All the words have now become specialised – as if they have acquired capital letters- so it is difficult to know precisely how the first readers understood Mark’s words. The word “Gospel”, for example, didn’t mean “Bit of the Bible.” It meant “Good news” or “Wonderful message,” as if you had suddenly made a medical breakthrough and wanted people to hear about it. “We have seen that if you follow this treatment, we can guarantee an end to …. Cancer, AIDS, dementia.” Wouldn’t that be staggering information? Wouldn’t it be life-changing, fantastic Good News? Mark intends to convey something of that breath-taking excitement.
And then there’s the word “Christ” which has become almost relegated to a surname or an expletive. But the first readers would have a totally different take on it. To many it would carry the overtones of “Champion” or “Deliverer” rather like the tagline on the Gladiator posters “A Hero will arise…” The people were oppressed, enslaved and looked forward to the day when God’s chosen one would set them free. Mark’s claim was that Jesus was that hero, that champion.
Wonderful news! A Champion is here!
And that’s the key: this wonderful news is completely absorbed into the coming of a unique person.
The sentence serves as a title to the book and it serves to plunge us immediately into what Jesus did. Mark is going to share with his readers the good news concerning who Jesus is and what He did while He was here. Mark calls the Lord “Jesus Christ, the Son of God”.
The name “Jesus” is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name “Joshua”. It means “Yahweh is Salvation”. Jesus is a human name and it reveals the reason Jesus came into this world. Jesus came into this world to save lost sinners, Matt. 1:21; Luke 19:10. The name “Jesus” declares His Person.
He is called “Christ”. This identifies Jesus as the “Jewish Messiah”, or “the Anointed One”. The name “Christ” declares His Position. Jesus is pictured as the One Who will deliver His people from their enemies.
Then Mark raises the stakes. He calls Jesus “the Son of God”. Mark lets us know in very clear terms that he is writing about a man, who is no ordinary man. He is writing about a man who is God in the flesh, (John 1:1, 14). The name “Son of God” declares His Power. It marks a moment of divine intervention. Something amazing has happened and I, Mark, bear witness to it.
So, this title declares four important truths regarding Jesus.
1. He is truly human – He has a human name – Jesus.
2. He is truly divine – He is the promised Messiah. He is the Son of God.
3. He is truly unique – He is both humanity and deity in one Person.
4. He is the true source of Good News – Jesus alone is the source of salvation!
- Thank You Lord for Your Son Jesus Christ! I Am Grateful! (bummyla.wordpress.com)
- The Gravity of the Gospel Truth (inlovewematter.wordpress.com)
- John Piper on the Supremacy of Jesus Christ (matgilbert.wordpress.com)
- Gospel or Good News of Jesus Christ (meanlittleboy2.wordpress.com)