Christ the Perfect Servant in the Gospel of Mark (2): Preaching the Gospel

The word “gospel” is found eight times in Mark and six of these occurrences are only in Mark. This gospel begins and ends with the gospel (1:1 and 16: 15) and in between we see Him going to the cross so that there would be a gospel to preach to men and women. Mark tells us how He preached the gospel and gives encouragements to preach it.

How He Preached the Gospel

“Repent ye and believe the gospel” is only in this gospel. Only Mark 6:12 records that when He sent out the 12, “they went out, and preached that men should repent.” No person is ever saved without repentance (Acts 17: 30), even though some have gotten saved without hearing the word “repentance.” The phrase, “conviction of sin,” is related to repentance but is not synonymous with it. There is no genuine conversion to God without some conviction of sin. Some have been so convicted of sin that they lost sleep, their appetite, and some have even lost their ability to work or study. This degree of conviction is not necessary but there must be some conviction of sin. Albert Joyce, who saw many souls saved under his preaching, said publicly, “We have to spend 90% of our time getting men and women to see their need of salvation.” Conviction of sin is necessary for this to take place. Sir Robert Anderson has written some good things in his chapter on repentance in his book, The Gospel and its Ministry. But Harry Ironside wrote a book that I consider to be much better on the subject: Except ye Repent (or Unless you Repent).

Encouragement to Preach the Gospel

There is only one parable unique to Mark (4:26-29) and it is an encouragement to preach the gospel. “So is the kingdom of God as if a man should cast seed into the ground and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how. For the earth bringeth forth fruit of itself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” This was an encouragement to the perfect Servant. Our Lord’s preaching for three and a half years had a lot to do with about 3,000 souls getting saved on the Day of Pentecost.

Isaiah 55:10-11 is a real encouragement to any evangelist who labors in small assemblies. Notice especially the twofold purpose of the rain and the snow and God’s words. “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, so that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater. So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth; it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” God has been glorified in many a gospel meeting, even when no one present professed salvation. During that meeting a believer received a line of gospel thought that God used, at a later time in their mouth, in blessing to some unsaved person. The purpose is not just bread for the eater but seed for the sower.

The Need for Activity

The word eutheos is most often translated “immediately” or “straightway.” This word is found 80 times in the whole New Testament. Exactly half of those times, are found in Mark, the shortest of the four Gospel accounts! Mark abruptly carries us at once into Christ’s ministry of unceasing toil. This word is 11 times in the first chapter, setting the tone for the whole book. Five of the six needs emphasized in Mark are found in the first chapter. Twice Mark records that the Lord Jesus was so busy that they did not have time to eat (3:20; 6:31). Over and over again we see that as soon as one thing is accomplished He is occupied with something else as a devoted, diligent, and dedicated servant. Does this not challenge our hearts?

How fitting to read in the gospel of Mark, “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). After all His work was accomplished, He sat down. Luke also has the ascension but only Mark records that He sat down. The next verse in Mark (16:20) shows that our Lord Jesus is still working. “And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following.” Gospel preachers today should not look for the same signs to accompany their preaching, but they should look for evidence of God working in the conviction of sin and conversion to God.

The key verse of this gospel is Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” The best one verse commentary on the Gospel of Mark is from the lips of Peter in Acts 10: 38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power: Who went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him.” Peter was the one instrumental in Mark’s salvation since Peter refers to Mark as his son (1Peter 5:13). Likely, Peter was also the primary source for a lot of the material in Mark’s gospel, under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God. There are some precious touches about Peter found only in Mark. One instance is in Mark 16:7, when the angel spoke to the women at the tomb, “But go your way, tell His disciples and Peter.”

This gospel (with its energetic tone full of activity) is the only one that records the Lord’s words in 13:34, “… to every man his work.” The word “man” is generic and includes both men and women. Every child of God has something to do for God.

Over two-thirds of all the verses in Mark begin with the same word, “and.” The repeated use of the word “and” in the gospel according to Mark shows that the service of our Lord Jesus was one complete harmonious whole. There was continuity in His service. It was never spasmodic. Sometimes we serve well for a few months and then not so well. However, His service was a complete harmonious whole.