The Gospel of Mark
By Jeff Curtis
The Gospel of Mark has an appealing vividness. It is brief, pointed, succinct, and written with realism and lifelikeness. The account leaves out the birth narratives, and, beginning with verse 2 of the verse chapter, it proceeds immediately into the ministry of John the Baptist.
In regard to Jesus’ public addresses, the book has only two of His long discourses (4:3-32; 13L5-37). The omission results in this Gospel containing less of Jesus’ teachings that the other three Gospel accounts.
Mark contains a few unique verses. Perhaps no more than fifty verses of this Gospel are not found in either Matthew or Luke. This fact has led to the view that the writer recorded the core of the Gospel story that Peter preached.
The style of writing joins realism with simplicity. In a straightforward fashion, we, the reader become almost an eyewitness. James Morrison, seeing the writing style as plain and easy to read, described it as “homely, humble, unadorned, and altogether devoid of literary artifice or art.”
The narrative of this Gospel is characterized with rapidity. Ralph Earle referred to Mark as being similar to a movie: “It might be said that, while Matthew and Luke furnish us with color-slides of the life of Christ and John presents a studied portrait, Mark gives us moving picture of the Master’s ministry.” Marvin Vincent referred to Mark as “pre-eminently the pictorial Gospel.” Even though fewer words are used, this account always reveals something the other Gospels don’t tell us.
Mark allows us to look into the hearts of the characters of this story. The book reveals how the disciples of Jesus reacted in their hearts to His words and deeds (4:41). Likewise, it gives the mental response of the crowds who gathered around Him (1:27; 2:7).
Concerning the structure of sentence and using of tenses, Mark makes use of the Greek “historic present” 151 times. This technique of writing is apparently used “to portray and event vividly, as though the reader were in the midst of the scene as it unfolds.”
Sometimes the book uses the aorist tense in the first part of a sentence and then conjoins it with the present tense in the second part of the sentence (1:30). It also uses the imperfect tense to accomplish the same purpose (1:37). Combining the two tenses in this way, Mark makes the past and the present work together effectively to reveal the action of the present. In addition, with this grammar construction, Mark gives a vividness and a rapid pace to the presentation of the story.
Hope Found in Christ
By Jeff Curtis
Paul’s primary point in Romans 7:14-25 was that a man under the Law, without Christ, doomed to spiritual failure. The Law did not, could not, sanctify. Even so, through the years, Paul’s words have touched the hearts of saints and sinners alike. Thousands have said, “I know exactly what he means. I’ve felt that way myself!”
What practical lessons should we draw from this text? A few think that the primary message is that life is hopeless. They say, “If the apostle Paul couldn’t make it, why should I even try?” Apparently, they missed the first part of verse 25. It is true that life without Christ is hopeless; but with Him all things are possible (Philippians 4:13; Mark 10:27).
Then there are those who use the passage to justify their half-hearted efforts to live the Christian life. “I’m struggling with this sin that keeps overcoming me; but that’s all right because Paul had the same problem. If that was good enough for Paul, then it’s good enough for me.” People who think like this are ignoring verses 24 and 25 of our text. Defeat was not “good enough” for Paul. Defeat made him turn to the Lord, who gave him the victory (8:37).
Several valuable lessons can be learned from Romans 7:14-25.
Knowledge alone is not enough. Knowledge is important (we never want to encourage ignorance); but, by itself knowledge cannot cure a sin-sick world. Some believe that “when people know better, they will do better”; but a lack of knowledge was not Paul’s problem. He knew what he should do and how he should live, but he just couldn’t do it.
Resolution alone is insufficient. There is nothing wrong with resolving to do better and then trying to carry out that resolution, but this will not solve all problems. Some are convinced that the only reason people fail is that they “didn’t try hard enough.” Paul wanted to do right, and he tried his hardest to do right; but he failed.
Diagnosis alone is ineffective. Paul knew that he needed to be “set…free from the body of death” (7:24), but he couldn’t do anything about it. Correct diagnosis alone was worthless; he needed a cure.
Hope is found in Jesus Christ. Of course, the most important lesson of this passage is that, when we are filled with despair as Paul was, there is hope. Our hope is found in Christ, who can deliver us from sin and death. Paul exclaimed, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25). The worst news in the Bible is followed by the best news.
Meet with God Where?
The Lord said that He would meet with the Israelites at the mercy seat in the tabernacle (Exo. 25:22) and that there He would dwell among them (Exo. 29:43-45). Where can Christians meet with the Lord today? We meet with Him in the church. It is His church. He is always there. To be with Him, we must be in the church. We must also meet with Him weekly in the assembly (Matthew 18:20). However, we can meet with Him at any time or in any place; we don’t have to go anywhere special to meet with the Lord (John 4:21-24). Those who are in the church are in the Lord, and the Lord is in each Christian. If you are a Christian, you always have access to Christ.