The Gospel of Mark: Christ Suffers & Serves

In our last post we talked about how the Gospel of Matthew presents Christ as King. In this study we’re going to look at the messianic theme of suffering and serving and how this theme is presented in the Gospel of Mark.

As we mentioned last time, we aren’t saying that one Gospel only presents one messianic theme; but just that each emphasizes one theme a bit more than others.

Christ, the Suffering Servant

Though a King, the Old Testament prophets said that the Messiah was going to be rejected. He’s despised, rejected, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief and one who was to be despised in Isaiah 53:1-3. He is a sanctuary for some but a stone of stumbling for others in Isaiah 8:14.

The prophets also said the Messiah would be a sacrifice. He was to be cut off (or killed), but not for Himself, Daniel 9:26 tells us. He’s wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities, His soul a sin offering, the Lord lays our sin on Him, and He makes intercession on our behalf in Isaiah 53.

This is the Suffering Servant presented to us in the Gospel of Mark.

The Gospel of Mark can be divided into two sections: The Service of Christ (Chapters 1-13), and the Sacrifice of Christ (Chapters 14-16).

Mark focuses more on what Jesus did rather than what He said. We find more miracles than parables. Three times in the first chapter alone we find Jesus healing people. Overall, Mark records nineteen miracles in only sixteen chapters.

Most of these miracles involve Jesus feeding the poor and healing the sick. “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister,” Mark 10:45 tells us.

In chapter 11 we find Jesus willingly entering Jerusalem knowing He would be crucified there. Judas plots to betray Him and the Apostles forsake Him in chapter 14. Jesus is alone as He is tried, beaten and sent to the cross in chapters 15.

In chapter 16, after He’s resurrected, Jesus seeks out those who abandoned Him, restores their faith, and sends them out into the world to tell about the Suffering Servant Messiah who died for those He loved.

Next: The Gospel Of Luke; Christ is Perfect Man

The Gospel of Matthew: Christ is King

Old Testament prophecies presented in the Gospels

In the Old Testament we find many prophecies concerning a Messiah (or Savior) that would come to make peace with God on our behalf. As we explore these prophecies we find a few reoccurring themes.

For example, this Messiah is presented as a King, yet one who is familiar with sacrifice and suffering. He’s presented as a man, but also as divine.

When we get to the New Testament, we find these prophecies fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We also find that each Gospel highlights one of these Old Testament messianic themes. Matthew highlights Christ’s royalty, Mark highlights His suffering, Luke highlights His humanity and John highlights His divinity.

This isn’t to say that one Gospel only presents one theme; it just means that each emphasizes one theme a bit more than others.

So, with this in mind, we’re going to take a look at these Old Testament themes and how they’re presented in the Gospels. In this study we’ll start with the Gospel of Matthew.

Christ, the King

In the Old Testament, the Messiah is portrayed as a King, that’s why the ancient rabbis often referred to Him as “King Messiah”.

He’s the Star out of Jacob and the Scepter that rises out of Israel in Numbers 24:17. He is the One who sits on David’s throne in Isaiah 9:7. He comes with the clouds of heaven to reign over a kingdom where all people, nations, and languages, will serve Him in Daniel 7:13-14.

In His kingdom the nations will no longer lift up the sword against one another in Isaiah 2:4, and His reign, we’re promised, will have no end in Isaiah 9:6-7.

This is the King Messiah presented to us in the Gospel of Matthew.

Jesus Christ is the “Son of David, the Son of Abraham” in Matthew 1:1 and the “King of the Jews” who wise men seek to worship in Matthew 2:2. Forty times He speaks of the kingdom of heaven and says that the day would come when He would return in the clouds to establish His kingdom on earth in Matthew 26:64.

Jesus is asked directly, “Are you the King of the Jews?” to which He replies, “I am” in Matthew 27:11. This infuriated the religious leaders who demanded He be crucified. As He hung on the cross a sign was put over His head that read, “This Is Jesus, The King Of The Jews.”

In Matthew 28:6 Jesus proves He is also King over death by rising from the grave. In Matthew 28:19 He commands His followers to tell the world about the King who died for sin, forgives all who call on His name, and will return again.

Next: The Gospel of Mark: Christ Suffers and Serves

The Bible – A Book For The Unsuccessful

The Bible is book for the unsuccessful. Its sweetest messages are to those who have fallen. It is the book of love and sympathy. It is like a mother’s bosom to lay one’s head upon in the time of distress or pain.

Its pages are filled with cheer for those who are discouraged. It sets its lamps of hope to shine in darkened chambers. It reaches out its hands of help to the weary, and to those who have fallen. It is full of comfort for those who are in sorrow.

It has its many special promises for the needy, the poor, and the bereft. It is a book for those who have failed, for the disappointed, the defeated, and the discouraged.

It is this quality in the Bible, which makes it so dear to the heart of humanity. If it were a book only for the strong, the successful, the victorious, the unfallen, those who have no sorrow, who never fail, who are always happy, it would not find such a welcome wherever it goes in the world.

So long as there are tears and sorrows, and broken hearts, and crushed hopes, and human failures, and lives burdened and bowed down, and spirits sad and despairing, the Bible will be full of inspiration, light, help, and strength for earth’s weary ones.

– J. R. Miller

The Messiah

Why We Need A Messiah

When man sinned (Genesis 3) he separated himself from God. God is perfect, Man is not. In order for God and Man to enter into a relationship something needed to change. So God promised to send a sacrifice, a Messiah, to atone for our sins (Genesis 3:15). The sacrifice of the Messiah (which means “Anointed”) would satisfy God and restore the relationship between Creator and Creation (Isaiah 53:10-11).

Let’s learn what the Old Testament predicted concerning the Messiah.

The Messiah Would Be God Himself

“I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:11)

Not only this verse, but the entire Old Testament makes it very clear that God alone is the One who saves us from the judgment of sin. He alone is our Savior.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)

Here we learn the Messiah is an eternal Being.

Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jeremiah 23:5-6)

And here the Messiah is given an exalted title — “The Lord Our Righteousness” — and He executes judgment and righteousness in the earth. These are two things only God can do. “Surely He is God who judges in the earth.” (Psalm 58:11)

“The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” (Psalm 110:1)

“Sit at my right hand” is a term that speaks of equality. But God has said there is no one like Him or beside Him – “there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me.” (Isaiah 45:21) So who is this sitting at His right hand? It is Jesus Christ, God the Son as we’ll discover in this next verse.

Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if you know? (Proverb 30:40)

Here in the middle of the Old Testament we learn that God has a Son.

“I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face. In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” ( Hosea 5:15)

God’s place is heaven (“Heaven is His throne” the Psalm says). To return to His place He must have first left it.

“Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)

This verse identifies the Messenger as “the Lord” who visits “His” temple. The Old Testament is certainly clear that only God is to be worshiped.

“Listen to Me, O Jacob, and Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last. Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens. When I call to them, They stand up together.

Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; From the time that it was, I was there. And now the Lord GOD and His Spirit Have sent Me.

Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, The Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, Who teaches you to profit, Who leads you by the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48:12,16-17)

These verses are an absolute goldmine of information! Look at what they tell us:

1) The first verse clearly identifies the speaker as God
2) He tells us that God and the Holy Spirit have sent Him (Here is the Trinity in the Old Testament)
3) He tells us that He, God, is the Redeemer and the Holy One of Israel

So from these passages we can conclude that the Messiah is God, the Redeemer, and further more He is a member the Trinity.

The Timeframe Of Messiah’s Coming Was Foretold

So far we’ve learned that God promised to send a Savior, a Messiah to save the world from sin. We also learned that the Messiah would be God Himself. Now let’s look at when the Bible says He would come.

“Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.

And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” (Daniel 9:25-26)

Now in these verses you have two areas where a timeframe is given:

1) Were told the Messiah would be “cut off, but not for Himself” at the end of 62 weeks. A week equals seven years. The Jewish calendar used a 360-day year so 69 weeks of 360-day years totals 173,880 days. Essentially Gabriel told Daniel that the interval between the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem until the presentation of the Messiah as King would be 173,880 days.

That commandment to restore and build Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445 BC. (The emphasis in the verse on “the street” and “the wall” was to avoid confusion with other earlier mandates confined to rebuilding the Temple.) After accounting for leap years, 173,880 days from March 14, 445 BC. brings us to April 6, 32 AD. (See the Khouse study for greater detail)

2) If you don’t want to accept that we look to the second source. We’re told that He would be cut off before the city and sanctuary is destroyed. This occurred in 70AD.

Then we find this third reference:

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.

In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”. (Jeremiah 23:5-6)

After the temple was destroyed in 70AD it became impossible to tell who was from which tribe because the genealogies were stored there. The Messiah had to come before 70AD because after that no one could prove what tribe they were from.

And here is a fourth timeframe reference:

“Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple. Even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.” (Malachi 3:1)

This verse says that the messenger will visit His temple suddenly. Again this would have had to have happened before 70AD.

These verses leave us with little doubt that the Messiah had to come before 70 AD. So we know that God was to come before 70 AD. What was He to do once He arrived?

The Messiah Would Be A Sacrifice For Sin

Let’s take a deeper look at the prophecies foretelling the sacrifice the Messiah would make.

“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself.” (Daniel 9:26)

“Cut off” literally means to be killed. The Messiah was to be killed, we’re told, but not for Himself. If not for Himself then for whom?

“He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray. We have turned, every one, to his own way. And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him. He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:4-6,10,12)

Isaiah 53 is the most famous of the messianic prophecies. It speaks of a suffering Servant who would be a sacrifice for our sins and make peace with God on our behalf. Because it was written about 700 years before Christ, and so clearly describes Him, it’s been heavily attacked. The main argument against it is that this chapter is not referring to the Messiah, but rather the nation Israel. For one to hold this view one must:

1) Ignore the plain reading of the text. Israel is portrayed as sinful whereas the Servant is portrayed as sinless. It makes absolutely no sense if the Servant who redeems is Israel because Israel is the one in need of redemption

2) Ignore the content of the dozen chapters before and several chapters after that again and again and again identify the Servant, the Holy One, the Redeemer and the only Savior as God and God alone

3) Ignore reams of writings from the ancient rabbis who identified the Servant as the Messiah. The fact is that no one had a problem identifying the Servant as the Messiah until Jesus came along and fulfilled these prophecies. After Jesus, people suddenly had a problem with the original interpretation

So, Daniel tells us the Messiah would be killed but not for Himself. Isaiah goes further and tells us that the ones He would die for the sins of Israel — and not only for Israel but for the rest of the world as well.

“Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel. I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”‘ (Isaiah 49:6)

The price that the Messiah paid was so great that is sufficient to provide salvation to the whole earth. His salvation is available to all you seek it. It’s simply a matter, like Joshua said, of “choosing who you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)

The Messiah Would Be Resurrected

Now we’re going to look at the prophecies concerning the resurrection and everlasting reign of the Messiah.

“And they made His grave with the wicked– but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him. He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.” (Isaiah 53:9-10)

If we read these two verses carefully we discover that the Messiah will die, yet He shall see His seed and His days shall be prolonged. That can only happen if He is resurrected. Let’s look at another verse.

“For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.” (Psalm 16:10)

This prophecy tells us that the Holy One will not stay dead. He will not “see corruption”. So there’s no confusion let’s make sure we know who this Holy One is. Isaiah identifies Him several times including in Isaiah 43:3: “For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Also see Isaiah 1:4; Isaiah 10:20; Isaiah 40:25) This leaves us wondering: If Jesus fulfilled all these other prophecies why hasn’t He established an everlasting kingdom yet?

The Bible clearly lay out two “missions” for the Messiah.

1) He was to die for the sins of the people
2) He was to establish an everlasting kingdom

That he would die for the sins of the people is found in Daniel 9:6:

“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself. And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.”

That he would establish an everlasting kingdom of peace is found in Isaiah 9:6:

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice.”

These two missions are so clear that many Jews adopted a “two Messiah” theory which says there would be two Messiahs — a Son of Joseph who would be the suffering Messiah and a Son of David who would rule forever.

The problem with this view is that while the Son of David is found throughout Scripture, nowhere is a Son of Joseph found. And because other verses we’ve looked at clearly identify God as the only Savior, the “one Messiah” view is the one that lines up with scripture.

So the Messiah was to die for the sins of the people and establish everlasting peace. In order for one Messiah to complete these two missions which one would have to be fulfill first? Obviously He’d have to die first because if He died after the kingdom was established it wouldn’t be everlasting. To do this He would have to be resurrected. That’s exactly what we learned above in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.

Jesus died for the sins of the people and was resurrected but He didn’t establish this kingdom directly after His resurrection because the Jews had rejected Him (Which is a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:3). Matthew 23: 37-39 explains:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'”

When will they say “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”? This will happen at the end of the Great Tribulation. Then the Jewish people will recognize Jesus as Messiah. See Hosea 5:15:

“I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face. In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”

And when they earnestly seek Him Hosea 6:1-2 says He will return:

“Come, and let us return to the LORD. For He has torn, but He will heal us. He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us. On the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.”

At the end of the Great Tribulation, the Jewish people will accept Jesus as Messiah. He will then return and establish His everlasting kingdom of peace where “the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Then He who sits on the throne will say, ‘Behold, I make all things new.'” (Revelation 21:3-5)

Who Fulfilled These Prophecies?

In this study we’ve outlined a very broad overview of what the Bible teaches about the Messiah. Though we’ve barely even begun to scratch the surface, without using one verse from the New Testament we’ve learned that the Messiah would:

1) Come before the temple was destroyed in 70AD
2) Be God Himself
3) Die for the sins of the world
4) Be Resurrected
5) Return To Reign Forever

In all of history only Jesus Christ has fulfilled these prophecies. He came before the temple was destroyed (Luke 21:5-6), He is God (John 14:8-9; Colossians 1:15), He died for the sins of the world (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4), He was resurrected (Luke 24:6), and He will return again soon (Revelation 22:20)

Others have come claiming to be the Messiah and they all followed the same pattern — they gained a following, died, lost their following. Jesus is unique in all of history. He gained a following, died, then His following exploded. Why would Jesus gain so many followers after He died? Answer: After Jesus was resurrected His followers realized that He was the promised Messiah. He is the One who died for your sins. Now what do you do with that information?

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7)

Come to Jesus today while He offers forgiveness.