The call of the disciples, their unique role, and the care and patience of Christ in their training. Then the preparation of the church for extreme and persistent opposition, the reasons why demons were cast out, the unpardonable sin, and the supreme mark of true conversion.
Some have called Mark’s Gospel the first evangelistic Christian tract. We think of a tract today as very brief, but in the 18th and 19th centuries many were easily the length of the Gospel of Mark, and some even longer. Mark’s Gospel is short and terse in its statements because it was designed for making known the gospel of Christ.
It was most likely written just within 20 years of the crucifixion of Christ and His resurrection and ascension. So this is the first and the earliest of the Gospels.
The earliest Christian writers were unanimously clear that it is essentially the Gospel (or memoirs) of Peter – Mark (John Mark) being the penman. In Peter’s first epistle he calls him ‘Marcus, my son’, demonstrating their closeness – Mark was his helper and secretary.
It has been described quite rightly as the ‘brisk’ Gospel. It is full of vivid pace, almost breathless; one of Mark’s favourite words is ‘immediately’, translated ‘straightway’ or ‘forthwith’. There are no superfluous inter-linking comments; it moves swiftly.
The Gospels agree with each other beautifully and perfectly. One of the main reasons for unbelievers to allege discrepancies between them is that the Gospels differ in character, but not in facts, because they are written for different readers with different purposes in view. For example, Matthew is written for Jews and seeks to prove that Jesus is the promised Messiah. Mark is quite different, being clearly written for Gentiles and explaining in detail what Jews would already know.
Mark focuses more on the acts and the miracles of Christ than he does on His teaching. He does both, but the emphasis is on the acts, because he is proving Christ’s divinity specifically from His works.
Mark also has the distinction – more than any other Gospel – of drawing attention to the opposition to Christ. He will typically present an act of Christ and then immediately describe the opposition that arose as a result. No other gospel is like Mark’s in setting up the drama of comparisons. The positive and negative alternate all the way through the book, as Mark demonstrates this world’s hostility and opposition to the Lord who came to suffer and die for His people.