Imagine that you are a Gentile, such as a Roman or Greek, and put yourself into a first-century pagan mindset. What would you think if you heard of a man who went around healing people? You would probably think that he was a god. What if you heard of a man driving out evil spirits and granting divine forgiveness of people’s sins? You would think he was some kind of god. If you heard of a man raising someone from the dead, you would surely think of him as a god. What if you heard of a man miraculously feeding a crowd, and controlling the weather by commanding a storm to stop? You would think he was a god.
Now put that all together - one man doing all those things. He is not just a god -- not just a weather god, a nature deity, or a divine prophet. It soon becomes apparent that he is a divine being with power over all those things. He has power over nature, over matter, over health and disease, over life, over death. He is not just a god, but something more than that. By the time he overcomes death at the end, by resurrecting from the dead, it becomes clear that he is the God -- the one and only God.
Mark’s gospel is written in a fast paced manner, where the character development and plot move along quickly. It was the first gospel written, and is less detailed than the other gospels. The book was written mainly for a Gentile audience, and accordingly, we Jesus portrayed as an extraordinary man. A case quickly builds with different kinds of miracles that he is not just an extraordinary man, and not just a god. Along with his teachings and claims about himself, we come to see that he is God. By the end of the story, it is clear that he is the one true God, who proves himself ultimately in his resurrection.
Because his human side is clear in Mark (and Luke), we easily identify with him and connect with him. When we realize that this man is God in the flesh, how even more exciting the story becomes. He is one of us, in a sense, yet he is God and comes with the power to free us, heal us, and connect us with his Father in heaven.
Mark’s story ends abruptly, though, with the report of his resurrection in Mark 16 (ignoring that extra ending that someone else wrote later). The reader is left hanging, maybe wondering what happened next. At the time this was written, most readers were probably generally familiar with some of what happened later. Yet the abrupt ending makes readers think more about his life, death and resurrection, and what it all means. As we read it, we are invited to reflect on what Jesus has done then, and how he still heals today. We are invited to think of his death and resurrection, and what it says about who he his. And we are invited to think about what Jesus means for us today.
-- K. Lee