We’ve just finished our fast-paced trip through the first half of Mark’s gospel. Mark sought to answer the question, who is Jesus? And he told us exactly what he was setting out to prove—Jesus was the Christ (the Messiah), promised in the Old Testament. Jesus was the Son of God who came to bring the good news to the world.
Power in Word and Deed
Not only did Jesus fulfill the Old Testament prophecies that foretold His coming, but Jesus proved His identity through His power and authority, shown through both word and deed.
Jesus came to preach the good news. Even when the crowds and disciples tried to sidetrack Him, Jesus remained focused on teaching. And His words were unlike anything anyone had ever heard before. From the beginning, the crowds “were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” (Mark 1:22). Jesus didn’t have to appeal to tradition or other rabbis, as the Pharisees did. Jesus was the authority. As another gospel writer put it, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus was the Word of God in the flesh. And it was apparent to all who listened to Him that His words carried an authority unlike any they had heard before.
But His authority didn’t end at His words. Jesus demonstrated time and again that He had complete power over the physical and spiritual world. He calmed storms, multiplied bread and fishes, and walked on water. Jesus healed so many from illness and injury that He constantly had to fight a reputation of a miracle worker. Yet, out of compassion, He continued to heal multitudes. In Mark chapter 5 we saw Jesus tackle an even greater obstacle when He raised a little girl from the dead. Jesus showed He had authority over death itself.
Jesus’ power extended beyond the physical world. From chapter 1, the demons recognized that Jesus came from God (1:24). Mark makes a point to show us that Jesus engaged in a battle with Satan throughout His ministry. In every encounter with the demonic, though, there isn’t much of a battle. Jesus has complete authority. He drives out demons with a word.
Who is Jesus?
In Mark 8:27–28, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” At the beginning of our study, we listed how people think of Jesus today. People call Him a teacher, prophet, guru, revolutionary, or lunatic. Perhaps you have had thoughts along the same lines.
After the disciples responded to Jesus’ question, He asked them an even greater question, “But who do you say that I am?” For once, Peter nailed it. “You are the Christ” (8:29). Jesus was the Christ, the Anointed One, the long-awaited Messiah.
It begs the question, who do you say Jesus is? Now that you’ve read Mark’s argument based on Peter’s eyewitness testimony, do you believe Jesus is the Messiah?
In Mark 1:15, Jesus announces that the kingdom of God has come near and calls His listeners to “Repent and believe the gospel.” If you believe Jesus is who He said He was, the only way to respond is through repentance and faith. He calls you to follow Him.
What does it mean to follow Jesus? That’s the question Mark will ask in the second half of his gospel. As we learned at the end of Mark chapter 8, following Jesus did not mean a life of ease and comfort. Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (8:34–35).
Jesus offers us life, but it comes from following Him, even as He walks toward the cross. But on the other side of the cross, Jesus offers us the unimaginable– eternal life, the forgiveness of sin, and the restoration of all that should be. Will you follow Him?
What do you make of Mark’s argument that Jesus is the Messiah? If Jesus is the Messiah, how should we respond?
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