23 January 2023
A Sneak Peek at Unlocking Mark’s Gospel
We’re really excited about Ruth Bridcut’s new book, Unlocking Mark’s Gospel, and we hope you are too! If you’re new to Bible reading or want to understand more of what the Bible says about Jesus, this is the ideal resource for you. It would also make a great gift – why not pick one up for a friend that you’d love to encourage in their Bible reading?
Author Ruth explains: ‘Many people find it daunting to read the Bible for themselves, simply because it is unfamiliar. This book is therefore intended as an aid for anyone feeling unfamiliar with the Bible.
Mark’s Gospel is a good place to start reading the Bible because it is the shortest of the four Gospels, which recount Jesus’ life and teaching. Mark concisely and clearly presents us with the Jesus of history – what he said and did.‘
Sneak a peek below to see if this resource could be helpful for you or a friend!
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God …
Spoiler alert! Mark answers the question ‘Who is Jesus?’ in his opening sentence!
Jesus is the Messiah and the Son of God (v. 1). The name Messiah means a rescuing King for God’s people, and was promised long ago in the Old Testament by prophets such as Isaiah.
In this passage we also meet John the Baptist, who calls people to turn away from their sin and goes about in the wilderness baptising people. All humans face the problem of their sin – ignoring God and his commands. Baptism is a ceremony of washing with water to symbolise the washing away of sin that is possible for all who confess their sin. John is the messenger about whom Isaiah prophesied and who is to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus (v. 3).
The Lord is described by John as one more powerful than he – John isn’t worthy to untie his sandals (v. 7)! Finally, the Lord is coming! How should people get ready for his arrival? Not by laying out a red carpet. Instead, John calls for an inner heart preparation – repentance. That is, all people are urged to be sorry for and turn away from their old sinful way of life, and instead to turn towards God’s way.
Jesus is baptised by John, but as a voice from heaven declares him to be the Son of God (v. 11), we know he had no sin to turn from. Jesus really is the promised Lord with a message of good news: ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!’ (v. 15).
What is the good news? God’s rule is going to be seen more clearly. The arrival of his long–promised King marks the beginning of God’s rescue of us from sin, death and evil. How should we respond to this good news of a rescuing King? We should be open to recognising who Jesus is, to turning from our sin and to believing this great news. God has entered into the world he made and calls people to believe in him.
Mark’s Gospel is all about good news. Jesus the Messiah – God’s promised, rescuing King – is worth believing and following.
Dear God, thank you that Jesus – the promised, rescuing King – has come into our world. Please help me to understand more of this good news as I read Mark’s Gospel, and especially to know more about who King Jesus is. Amen.
Power over evil
Go home to your own people and tell them how much the
Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.
Now in a non–Jewish region, Jesus meets a man in torment. The man is physically free, having resisted all attempts to tie him down, yet he seems to be imprisoned. How can this be? His tormented actions are explained by his conversation with Jesus – he is controlled by impure spirits who speak on his behalf and identify themselves as Legion, a term used for many Roman soldiers.
The many spirits have authority over the man, but why do they throw the man to his knees before Jesus, begging for mercy? They recognise Jesus has a greater authority and that they need Jesus’ permission regarding where they may go. Jesus permits them to enter a large herd of pigs. Wonderfully, the man is restored – he is clothed and in his right mind (v. 15).
Yet there is no community celebration for this man. Instead, the people ask Jesus to leave. Jesus has displayed such awesome power and authority that the people are afraid. In contrast, the man, who has received an amazing blessing of freedom and mercy, has amazing news to share!
Jesus is more powerful than the strongest forces of evil, visible or invisible. Does this fill you with fear (like the people) or faith (like the restored man)? We might not often see explicit evidence of evil today in the same way. However, we can be encouraged that no matter what happens in our personal lives or on the world stage, Jesus has authority over Satan and unseen evil forces.
In our world there is not an equal battle between good and evil – Jesus always wins!
Dear Jesus, thank you that you showed yourself to be the Lord, with authority over evil. Thank you that you cared about this man and restored him to his right mind. Please help me to trust your greater power as I see the effects of evil in the world. Help me to be like that man, trusting your awesome power and eager to tell others. Amen.
Ruth grew up in Dublin, being taught to read the Bible from a young age. She studied at the Cornhill Bible training course in London, while being a church apprentice and has worked for over 10 years as Women’s worker with Irish Church Missions, based in Dublin City Centre. She has recently returned to working in Medical Physics in the Radiology department of her local hospital but is excited to point others to reading God’s word for themselves whenever there is opportunity.