Archive for the ‘Mark’ Category

Mark’s Race to the Cross: Immediately!

February 18, 2008

For the past two weeks, I have been reading through the Gospel according to Mark. I have been noticing a particular adverb that is repeated throughout his testimony: “immediately” (Grk. euthus). It seems that everything in Mark happens immediately. He hardly gives any time for transition between his narratives; he moves immediately from one to the next. Jesus took his disciples into Capernaum and “immediately” they went into the synagogues where Jesus taught (1:21). “Immediately” their was a man with an unclean spirit crying out (1:23). News about Jesus spreads throughout the towns and villages “immediately” (1:28). And Mark spares no time before they “immediately” come to the house of Simon and Andrew and “immediately” speak to Simon’s mother-in-law (1:29). Hang on tight folks! That all happened in just ten verses (of the first chapter!). [For more “immediate” transitions between Mark’s narrative accounts see, for example, 6:45, 6:54, 7:25, 8:10, 9:15, 14:43, and 15:1.]

Even the scenes within the narratives occur immediately. For example, when Jesus came up from the water, he “immediately” saw the heavens opened; and after the Spirit descended on him, Jesus was “immediately” impelled to go into the wilderness (Mark 1:10, 12). Jesus calls his disciples to follow him, and “immediately” they drop their nets and follow him (1:18, 20). Later, Jesus gets out of a boat (new scene) and “immediately” a man from the tomb with an unclean spirit meets him (5:2). When Jesus instructs his disciples to go get him the colt (one that he will even return “immediately”), they will find the colt “immediately” as they enter the village (11:2). Following Peter’s denial, and serving to highlight the truth of the Lord’s word spoken in 14:30, the rooster crows the second time–you guessed it–“immediately” (14:72).

When Jesus heals people, time is not given for recuperation; they are healed/revived “immediately”: the leprous man (1:42); the paralytic man (2:12); the woman who had a discharge of blood (for twelve years!) (5:29); the synagogue official’s daughter (5:42); the boy with a spirit that made him mute (9:17-27); the blind man (10:52). Without question this highlights Jesus’ supremacy over life and all it entails, especially with the irruption of God’s kingdom in the coming and ministry of its King. Not only do human bodies respond to Jesus with immediacy, but the universe does as well: “…for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’ And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded” (6:50-51).

As I was contemplating this fast-paced testimony, and Mark’s reason for writing in this manner, I arrived at chapter 15. Judas had just betrayed Jesus “immediately” with a kiss (14:45), and Peter had just broke down weeping upon his “immediate” remembrance of the Lord’s words (14:72; cf. 14:30). Both of these events bracket the accusations and charge of blasphemy brought against Jesus (14:53-65). As I expected, now the chief priests held their wicked consulation “immediately” in the morning (15:1). To my surprise, however, everything seemed to come to a halt! Nothing more in Mark’s Gospel happens “immediately”. The word that has been repeated forty-one times(!) throughout his testimony ceases to be used. “Why?”

As I thought to myself, the answer became very clear and spoke very loudly: there is a reason, a purpose, Mark takes his reader through his Gospel so quickly. He is racing to the Cross! Mark wants his readers to behold this Jesus whom he testifies of in light of the cross he also endured (just like the centurion in 15:39). Yes, his coming, healing, teaching, life, and mission reveal that he is the Son of God. Mark nails this. But, what is more, this Jesus, this unique Son of God endures a Roman cross on behalf of sinners, and three days later, rose from the dead (15:1-16:8; cf. 10:45; 14:24). Mark races to the cross of Christ because he desires his readers to race to the cross of Christ, and contemplate all that such a cross-death means. And, furthermore, he wants his readers to reread his entire Gospel testimony in light of the cross, for all of his life and mission is pointed toward such a death.

I pray you, run to the cross with Mark, immediately! And behold the Savior, Jesus Christ. He is alive. God raised him from the dead (16:1-8). Therefore, heed his words: “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, immediately he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come” (4:26-29).