After handwriting 28 chapters of Matthew’s Gospel, Mark is a speed freak. He writes in 16 chapters what it takes the other three Gospel writers at least 20 chapters to say. Plus, he uses words like “immediately” (euthus) several times a chapter. Maybe he was impatient, in a hurry, or actually expanding some kind of shorthand notes he had taken from the Apostle Peter, but for whatever reason, Mark is by far the fastest of the Gospel writers.
In some ways, this is great (especially for Twitter-like Americans who want everything solved in a text message). We get the baptism of Jesus in a couple of verses. On the negative side, Mark skips the entire childhood of Jesus, meaning if Luke and Matthew hadn’t mentioned it, I wouldn’t even know about that cool nativity scene I put up last Christmas.
Each Gospel writer has their emphasis, and Mark’s is clearly to get to the point that Jesus is Messiah, Son of God, and he did a bunch of cool stuff while on earth.
On a side note, this same John Mark was the one traditionally also with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey who abandoned them and returned home early. Paul was so mad that he wouldn’t take him on the next trip, even though he as the cousin of Barnabas. So maybe Mark really was impatient, but God even used his personality, flaws and all, to create what is likely the earliest Gospel and one that continues to change lives today.
May God use us, flaws and all, as we seek to serve him today.
Dillon Burroughs has written, co-written, or edited over 60 books, including the upcoming devotional work Thirst No More (October 2011). He served as an associate editor for The Apologetics Study Bible for Students and is a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary. Find out more at DillonBurroughs.org.