The Gospel of Mark: The Four Gospels as Social Media
The Gospel of Mark was written by John Mark, a traveling companion of both the Apostle Paul and Barnabas. He went by the name Mark, more than likely, because John was a common name among the disciples.
Mark’s gospel has an emphasis on three distinct areas: miracles, time and the phrase “Son of God”.
The Gospel of Mark shares with us 27 miracles that Jesus performed, more than any other gospel. Mark also uses the word “immediately” 34 times in only 16 chapters.
It’s also the shortest of the four gospels.
Some people believe that Mark wrote his gospel at the urging of the Apostle Peter probably while they were in Rome. It’s purpose is to show that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God who was sent to suffer and to serve in order to rescue and restore mankind.
Mark was written for a Roman audience. Obviously, Rome was military society. So quickness, efficiency and sacrifice were engrained into Roman culture. They admired people who gave themselves up for the greater good of their community.
Because that’s what soldiers do: They sacrifice.
And Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus was purposely called the Son of God in Mark because, of course, he is the only Son of God, but I also believe to clarify to the Roman audience that there is truly only one “Son of God”.
Did you know that Augustus Caesar was also called the “son of god” because he was the adopted heir to Julius Caesar? Augustus ruled from 27 B.C. until his death in 14 A.D. So Jesus was about 20 years old when the Roman “son of god” died.
Mark drives home the true meaning of “Son of God” to a Roman audience that understood what “son of god” meant. And, Mark also drives home the miraculous works of Jesus to prove to Rome that Jesus is truly the Son of God. Julius and Augustus never performed any miracles. So if one was a god and the other was the “son of god”, why didn’t they perform any miracles?
But Jesus did.
One of the most famous quotes in Mark concerns Caesar.
Religious leaders and Herodians, trying to capture Jesus in a trap, ask him about paying the imperial tax to Caesar. The imperial tax was a special tax only to those people that Roman had conquered (like the Jews).
So these people ask Jesus, should Jews pay this special tax? And Jesus says, “Bring me a denarius (coin) and let me look at it.” They brought him a coin and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And who’s inscription?”
“Caesar’s,” they replied.
Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”
And they were amazed at him. (Mark 12: 13-17)
Many pastors use this verse to “prove that you should tithe”. But I truly believe people who do this are incorrect in their assessment of Jesus’ teaching here.
Remember, Caesar is called “son of god”. And Jesus is called “Son of God”.
Jesus say’s, “The image on this coin is Caesars, so give back to Caesar his coin. But you were created in God’s image, therefore God’s image is on you, so give to God your soul (God’s image). ”
Again, the son of god was focused on this world, but the Son of God was focused on God’s eternal Kingdom. A Roman audience would be awestruck by this portion of Scripture.
Lastly, you have the Apostle Peter, aka, the most impatient of the disciples. He seemed to have the personality of “let’s do it now and let’s do it quickly.” Therefore, if you combine the Roman audience and Peter’s testimony of Jesus’ works, The Gospel of Mark is a short, to the point account of Jesus’ life and his supreme authority over the lives of Rome (and the world).
Short and sweet.
Like Twitter when you send a tweet.
This is why I call the Gospel of Mark the Twitter of The Four Gospels as Social Media.
The Four Gospels as Social Media: A Short Recap
Matthew: Written by Levi, who was also called Matthew, for a Jewish audience. The phrases and terminology used by Matthew in his gospel would have been easily understood by Jews who knew their religious history. Matthew proved that Jesus was from King David’s lineage and was the Messiah the nation of Israel was seeking. If one did not know anything about Judaism, one could still learn about Jesus and his kingship over Israel and the world. However, the better one knew about Judaism, the better one could (can) understand about The Gospel of Matthew.
The Gospel of Matthew is like Google+ as a social media example. Google+ is more difficult to understand and not many people use it, but once you learn it, most people enjoy it. Similar to Matthew’s Gospel. Not many people truly understand the phrases and layout found in Matthew. However, the better you understand Judaism, the more alive Matthew’s Gospel becomes. From a theological point of view, The Gospel of Matthew is more technical, but becomes extremely rich when you understand why Levi wrote the way he did. That is why I say the Gospel of Matthew is the Google+ of The Four Gospels as Social Media.
Luke: Written by the Grecian physician Luke, he was also the Apostle Paul’s companion on many missionary journeys. Luke also wrote The Book of Acts, which provides a thorough history of the beginning of the church. The Gospel of Luke was written for a Grecian named Theophilus. It was intended for a Greek audience and Grecians loved to talk, read and “go deeper” into conversation.
They liked to paint a picture with their words, both verbally and on scrolls. It would be normal for a Grecian to spend all day researching, investigating, talking, sharing about their philosophy. After all, Greece was the intellectual center of the first century (and many others). So it is fitting that the only non-Jewish person to write in the New Testament was Grecian and that he wrote his gospel to a Gentile (non-Jewish) audience. Luke is, by far, the longest gospel of the four gospels. Luke’s gospel is like Youtube.
Youtube has staggeringly massive amounts of content.
For example, Youtube has over 1 billion users, has trillions of views each year, over 100 hours of content is loaded per minute. So by the time you finish reading this article, hundreds of hours of video are posted on Youtube. Hundreds of hours…in just a few minutes.
That’s a massive amount of information. The Gospel of Luke has a massive amount of information about Jesus being the “Son of Man”, aka the Savior of the world.
That is why I call The Gospel of Luke the Youtube of The Four Gospels as Social Media.
John: Written by the disciple whom Jesus loved, the Apostle John. John was the only disciple to die a natural death. He died in the late 90’s A.D., possibly in 100 A.D., of old age, on the island of Patmos, which was his “prison”. When he wrote the Gospel of John, he was the last remaining disciple of Jesus Christ. And he wrote it about 30 years AFTER the last gospel was written.
So there was a gap of almost 30 years from Matthew, Mark & Luke’s Gospel’s to John’s Gospel. A lot can happen in 30 years…and a lot did happen. Most notably: Israel was completely destroyed and disbanded by the descendants of Ishmael who were soldiers in the Roman Empire. Israel, as a nation, was wiped off the face of the earth in 70 A.D. However, after World War II in 1948, which was 1, 878 years later, Israel was re-established as an independent nation.
Matthew’s Gospel was written for a Jewish audience. Mark’s Gospel was written for a Roman audience. Luke’s Gospel was written for a Greek audience. John’s Gospel, however, was different.
John, being the loving 90 something year-old man that he was, wrote his gospel, to the entire world. His book was penned for everyone on the face of the earth. Jew. Italian. Greek. Viking. Celtic. Thai. Chinese. African. Russian. Atheist. Satanist. Animist. Everyone. Everywhere. The Gospel of John is, hands down, the easiest and most beautifully written gospel.
He wrote, like I stated above, like your 90 year old grandfather would write to his children, grandchildren and great-great-great-great-grandhildren (I could keep going, but you get the point).
His book was like Facebook.
It was meant for the world. Everyone. Everywhere. Facebook is the most popular and easiest to use social media platform of them all. That is why I call The Gospel of John the Facebook of The Four Gospels of Social Media.
(Note: Please understand that I fully believe all the Gospels are meant for everyone, everywhere. This is just a simple analogy to help people learn the purpose of each Gospel in relation to four social media platforms.)