Deity of Christ in the Gospel According to St Mark

Mark’s opening words in his Gospel unequivocally assert that Jesus is God.  He doesn’t just lead us through stages, bringing us to the point where we begin to realise that this Jesus whom he portrays in his Gospel is truly God – no, like Matthew and John, he states at the outset who Jesus really is, and the rest of his Gospel demonstrates this.  It’s as if, as we open the cover of a book to read the first page, the sun suddenly blazes out from the page, dazzling us with its brightness and splendour.  (Incidental note: Such a brilliant beginning demands an equally brilliant ending.  How could Mark have ended his gospel with a fizz and on a note of fear, as it is claimed by those who say it ends at chapter 16 and verse 8?  This glorious beginning must finish with triumph; with the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and his instructions to the Church.  And it does, when it is allowed to finish at chapter 16 and verse 20.  The evidence for the inclusion of these final verses of Mark is strong).

So, Mark the author of the second Gospel, makes it clear from the beginning who Jesus is, and for the rest of this Gospel, we know exactly the character and nature of this divine being, and of his mission.  From the very start, Mark refers to him as Jesus Christ, the Son of God; this title is an assertion of deity.  For example, when Jesus was being tried in the kangaroo court of the Jewish Sanhedrin, the high priest demanded, “Art thou the Christ, the son of the Blessed?  And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.  Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses?  Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye?  And they all condemned him to be guilty of death” (Mk 14: 61-64).  See also Daniel 7:9-14.

Mark shows how Jesus is the fulfilment of prophecy by connecting his coming being heralded by John the Baptist, with the Old Testament prophecies themselves.  He refers to the prophecies of Malachi and Isaiah about the coming of the Messiah heralded by the forerunner: “Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.  The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Mk 1:2-3). 

Mark quotes Malachi first: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts” (Mal 3:1).  The “Wycliffe Bible Commentary” commenting on this verse says The Lord…shall suddenly come.  This is the answer to the question ‘Where is the God of judgment?’…. ‘God’ (2:17), Lord, and the messenger of the covenant all refer to one and the same divine person.  Since the forerunner of this person was John the Baptist, the divine person was none other than Jesus Christ”.

Then, in Mark 1:3, he follows this up by quoting from the prophet Isaiah: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God (Isa 40:3).  Again, it is clear that the forerunner is John the Baptist, and that Jesus Christ is the one for whom John the Baptist clears the way.  Isaiah’s words tell us it is God for whom the forerunner clears the way; the apostle Mark shows how it is Jesus for whom the forerunner, John the Baptist, in fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy, clears the way.  “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1), and he is shown by the prophets to be God himself. 

I’m sure Mark meant us to read on in the fortieth chapter of Isaiah’s prophecy.  It says “Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him.  He shall feed his flock like a shepherd (as in John 10:1-18): he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isa 40:10-11).  Do we not see God described in this passage?  Do we not see Christ as the fulfilment of it?  Do we not see God and Christ identified as one and the same person?  Yes, yes, and yes!

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