“At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” (Hebrews 2:8c-10)
But we see Jesus.
The Hebrews writer says it’s possible for us to see Jesus. Not visually. Not literally. But spiritually... with the eyes of our heart. I think this is the primary goal of the whole Bible, but especially the goal of the four gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John want to help us see Jesus.
For sure, each gospel is different. Each writer has a unique way of presenting Jesus. Matthew, in a very Jewish way, presents Jesus as Rabbi—the great teacher. He builds his work around five sermons of Jesus (one that’s quite famous). The fourth one, in Matthew 18, is a sermon about relationships in the church.
John’s approach to Jesus is more philosophical and theological. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things were made by Him and without him, nothing was made that has been made. And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. Deep theology. That’s John.
As we’ve discussed, Dr. Luke did the research. He tells us so. He discusses his painstaking research in the opening verses of his gospel. It seems that Luke wrote down everything! His gospel is not just the longest gospel, but it’s the longest book in the New Testament. Add in Luke’s second volume of research, what we call The Acts of the Apostles, and you have a vast amount of material—material we can trust... because Luke was a diligent researcher.
Luke presents Jesus not just as a Jewish Messiah, but as the Savior of the whole world. He writes about Jesus’ interactions with women, Samaritans, and Gentiles. He tells stories about Jesus that we find nowhere else in scripture. I am thankful for Luke’s diligence.
And then there’s Mark—or John Mark as scholars sometimes call him. I’m glad we call him Mark. We already have enough Johns in scripture. Mark was a traveling companion with Paul and a close co-worker with Peter. In fact, many scholars think that Mark’s gospel is really Peter’s gospel and that Mark served as something of a secretary or compiler/editor of Peter’s words.
What I admire most about Mark’s gospel is that it’s very concise—to the point. There is no birth narrative and no genealogies. Instead, Mark is full of action. It’s as if Mark is thumbing through a photo album with us pointing out snapshots of Jesus in different scenarios. “Look! Here’s Jesus calling the first disciples. And here He is kicking out a demon and, oh, look at this, this is where he healed a paralytic. And down here, Jesus goes to Levi’s house. And here’s a picture of all the Pharisees who were dogging Him everywhere He went.”
That’s Mark’s gospel. He keeps things moving. He’s on a mission. He wants to communicate the story of Jesus with urgency. Mark’s favorite word seems to be immediately. He uses it eleven times in chapter one alone—42 times in the book.
He begins many of his sentences with the word and. “And then Jesus did this. And then this happened. And immediately He went there. And then, He came here.” That’s Mark. Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.
Mark writes about 35-40 years after Jesus’ death. He writes to church-goers—people like us who believe all the faith statements and who can articulate church doctrine. They have a good understanding of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the nature of God, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the atoning, sacrificial death of Jesus.
But Mark is concerned. He’s concerned that although they may know the plan, they may not really know the man. Let’s face it. As time passes, Christianity tends to get reduced—reduced to statements of faith, doctrine, and attendance sheets.
Mark wants to grab you and me by the shoulders and say, “Listen to me! It’s about following Jesus! It’s all about following Jesus!”
Statements of faith are great. Correct doctrine is a must. Regular attendance at church assemblies is expected. But none of that matters … if we don’t know Jesus.
And so, we begin 2021 on a quest to see King Jesus with fresh eyes. We revisit the stories, not just by reading them from the printed page or hearing them preached, but by inserting ourselves into the story and walking with Him. We follow Him from the sea to Capernaum. We sail with Him to Gerasa. We journey with Him to Jerusalem, eat around His table, and pray with Him in the garden. Then, we pick up our cross and follow Him down the pathway of suffering.
JESUS. It’s all about Jesus. In 2021, may we see Him better than ever.
“I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I count all things as rubbish, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:8-10).