November 16, 2023
Have you ever been to a passion play during the Easter season? The church I grew up in would produce such a play each spring. A passion play is usually a stage production that portrays the life of Jesus. Now, I am willing to admit that I am just being snooty and cranky, but I actually (usually) don’t care for passion plays. And it’s because they very rarely let the Gospel writers speak for themselves. Instead, the plays are written as if somebody copied and pasted different parts from the four different Gospels. I prefer stories and depictions of Jesus where each of the Gospel are allowed to tell their own story in their own unique way.
Because, when you study them closely, it is clear that all four Gospels say something unique about Jesus. The Synoptic Gospels (synoptic is a word that means “seen together”) of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all have relatively the same story, but the Gospel of John is 90% original material. The Synoptics portray the earthly ministry of Jesus as one year whereas the Gospel of John seems to portray it as three years (count the number of Passovers, an annual celebration, that are mentioned). And each Gospel has its own unique emphasis on who Jesus was. In the Gospel of John, Jesus is very ethereal and spiritual. Matthew portrays Jesus as the Great Teacher (“Sermon on the Mount”) whereas Luke has Jesus as a social revolutionary who upturns the established order of things.
The question at the heart of the Gospel of Mark is this: What does it mean for Jesus be King? For the early Christians who first received Mark, they were living in a time of persecution under Roman imperial rule. And despite the mighty armies who oppressed them for their faith, the Gospel of Mark was written to buttress their resolve to stand firm for the Lordship of Christ. It’s a question that is relevant for us today in a world where competing voices are clamoring for our attention and allegiance. How do we maintain our focus on Jesus as King?
I want to invite you to join us for our Wednesday Morning Bible Study. We meet at 10:00 AM in the Fellowship Hall (right after Sanctuary Prayers at 9:15 AM). We have just begun a long, in-depth study through the Gospel of Mark and it’s never too late to jump in and join us. Join us as we explore how Jesus rules as King over our lives each and every day.