Not the Messiah You’re Looking For

The Gospel of Mark is the shortest of the four.  Some imagine that because it’s more concise than Matthew and Luke, who may have taken Mark and elaborated on it at greater length, it’s relatively less complex.

Not so.

Mark is unsettling, mysterious, and wonderfully iconoclastic.  He challenges his readers, subjecting their assumptions of what Jesus must be like to intense scrutiny.  Do you really think you get Jesus?  Look again.

Clifton Black, in his new commentary, captures this aspect of Mark well:

Attend carefully to the Evangelist’s technique: from the beginning of this Gospel, the identity of Jesus is, paradoxically, at once clear and obscure.  Viewed sub specie aeternitatis (under the aspect of eternity), Jesus is God’s Son (1:1); regarded within conventional frames of reference, however, his significance is easily confused.  That Jesus is Messiah, Mark has no doubt (1:1); what messiahship means or entails, as distinguished from those roles played by other figures like John, is subject for intense debate (p. 56).

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