Let's imagine someone, maybe a friend or a child or a grandchild, comes to you and asks, "What is the gospel?" What would you say?
Before you read any more of this email, give that some thought. What would you say?
Have you really thought about it?
How much of what you would say is the result of what you've been conditioned to say by evangelists you've known or teachers you've had or by what you've heard along the way? How much is the result your present circumstance?
Mark, an evangelist, wrote based on what he knew of Jesus and what were his circumstances (as did, for that matter, Matthew, Luke, and John).
So much of what we attest to has to do with what we've known and with what we've dealt with/are dealing with.
Mark was writing in days when his world was crumbling around him. Scholars think he was writing just before, during, or just after the Jewish Revolt, which resulted in a harsh Roman defeat, including the destruction of the Temple. It was not a pleasant time for Jews or Christians in Israel.
When he was sharing the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, the situation around him mattered, what his audience was enduring mattered, how they were experiencing life influenced how he presented the good news.
Mark made a decision to not give time to sharing Jesus' genealogy (as did Matthew), the months leading up to his birth (as did Luke), or a poetic connection back to the creation of the cosmos (as did John). He jumped in with an adult Jesus ready to make his presence known.
Mark's gospel shows a Jesus who is present and active and leading people to repentance and forgiveness and new life - and not just people in a major city like Jerusalem, but off in the wilderness, the kind of people who were scared or forgotten or mistreated because those were the kind of people Jesus spent much of his ministry around.
As you are thinking about how you would respond to the question, "What is the gospel," reflect on how Mark began his presentation of it - read Mark 1:1-8 - and then join us on Sunday morning as we celebrate together the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.