As some of you may know, I really enjoy history. One of the ways in which to really get a unique insight into a particular part of history is to focus on an important personality in that era who had a great impact on the world at that time – someone like Julius Caesar, or John Calvin, or Napoleon, or Jan Smuts, or Winston Churchill. Get a feel for their lives, how they grew up, understand what made them tick, try to understand who they were, what their mission in life was. Where do we go to get more knowledge on these things? Biographies – stories about these people’s lives.

As Christians, we know that the most important person who has ever walked the face of the earth is Jesus Christ. It was by him that the universe was created. He is the centre of our faith. He’s the One we worship. He’s the One we pray to every morning. He’s the One who will raise us up from the grave on the Last Day to glory everlasting.

So he is the One that our lives should be devoted to knowing, understanding and pursuing. How do we know our Saviour more? By reading his Word – all of it, OT and NT is all about him. But what if we want to zoom in and, like important figures in history, find out more about his identity and his life’s mission? Where in his Word do we look? Like important figures in history, we must look at his biography first and foremost. Now obviously, as we know, all Scripture reveals Christ. Yet it’s only in the four Gospel accounts (we’ve got four biographies of Jesus!) do we find historical narrative accounts of Jesus life – his birth, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension. It’s in the Gospels that we get a clear picture of Jesus’ identity and his life’s mission. This is why I want us to spend the coming months going through Mark’s Gospel.

Why Mark in particular? Ultimately in the life of our church I hope to be able to preach through all four at one stage or another. But let’s start with Mark first, as it’s very fast moving. It gets to the point. It’s the shortest of the four Gospels.

It’s also one of the earliest Gospels to be written. Most scholars estimate around 64 AD. That’s just 30 years after Jesus ascended to heaven! Traditionally, it’s been seen as the second Gospel account to be written, after the Gospel of Matthew.

So who was Mark, the author of this Gospel? Well his full name was John Mark. He was Jewish, a native of Jerusalem. We read about him in Acts 12:25 where he joins Paul and Barnabas on a mission. For some reason he and Paul had a fall out, but it seems that they were eventually restored, as we find in Paul’s letters (2 Tim 4:11).

While Mark wasn’t one of the Twelve, he was closely linked to the apostles. He was very close to the Apostle Peter, who calls him his “son” in the faith in 1 Peter 5:13. It is believed that Mark’s account of Jesus’ life in his Gospel is the account that Peter himself gave him.

What we’re going to see in these introductory verses of Mark’s Gospel is some vital biographical information about Jesus. We’re going to understand more of his identity, and we’re going to see his life’s mission – what was the reason he came to earth. Ultimately we’re going to see that because Jesus was God’s promised Messiah, he came to die for our sins. Truth of this has to continually transform our lives. Unlike any other figure from history – Jesus changes us today.

Preacher: Rev. Antonio Coppola.


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