The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1)
You would expect Mark to go on with some account of the birth of Jesus…but he doesn’t. There are no details of the census. No insight to the “Word becoming flesh.” No relating of the dreams that calmed Joseph’s fears or any mention of shepherds.
The next verse gets into the work of John the Baptist, then Jesus’ baptism and temptation and Mark’s moving forward with the narrative, teaching and miracles of Jesus’ public ministry.
So why doesn’t Mark begin the “gospel about Jesus” with his birth? Really why doesn’t Peter begin with the birth of Jesus? (Strong evidence points to the source of Mark’s gospel as the account of the Apostle Peter.)
Perhaps the best explanation is he was focused on the life and ministry of Jesus. As one blog post wrote in defense of its absence (read it in its entirety here: https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/why-doesnt-mark-say-anything-about-jesus-birth/):
- Silence doesn’t mean denial
- Brevity doesn’t mean ignorance
- Absence doesn’t mean it’s not assumed
These are all good points, but what about this opening verse assumes the reality of his birth as Matthew and Luke relate it?
- The message of Mark is the gospel…the GOOD NEWS of Jesus Christ.
Mark uses the same word the angels did in Luke 2:10-11 “10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you GOOD NEWS of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
What the angels announced the shepherds was fully going to play out in the Gospel of Mark. He wanted his readers to know that over everything he was going to recount and share about the life of Jesus had one purpose: Share the Good News about Jesus!
- The person about whom Mark is writing is JESUS CHRIST
Names stick. Mark doesn’t start another account about another person, but identifies the focus of his message as Jesus Christ. This was the very name given to the baby born in the manger by Joseph:
Matthew 1:21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” …
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
The Christ was the “anointed one.” The whole of the Old Testament narrative and prophecy was to bring “the Christ” into the world. God hadn’t forgotten. Mark recognizes God’s faithfulness in the title for Jesus, “the Christ.” Mary knew that God was using her to fulfill his promises to his people as she sang, “
Luke 1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”
- Mark identifies Jesus as the SON OF GOD.
The angel said to Joseph:
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”
The angel speaking to Mary said:
Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
While Mark adds no new details to the birth of Jesus, he affirms all that was revealed at the birth of Jesus in his opening words. He assumes the reality, affirms the truth, and then advances the GOOD NEWS God’s Spirit gave to him regarding the events and teaching of Jesus, the one whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.
Mark doesn’t say much, but he packs a ton of truth about Christmas in his opening verse!
Apply: What insight of Mark’s opening verse stands out to you in light of the truth of Christmas?
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for the continuity between all the authors of the Bible. While some you gave details and others you allowed authors to omit, through them all you communicated clearly your plan of love to save all of us from the consequence of our sins!