It is probably borderline blasphemous to play favorites with the Bible, but Mark is far and away my favorite of the four Gospels. It’s the oldest Gospel, so far as we know, though not the oldest book of the New Testament—Paul’s letters get that distinction. But it is the oldest attempt to tell the story of Jesus’s life.
I don’t like Mark best because of its “accuracy,” though, as if being earliest made it by default the most historically reliable. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Luke makes some cryptic comments to the effect that his predecessors weren’t quite as “orderly” as he intends to be. See, Luke wants to help you get it. So do his buddies Matthew and John. All three of them are so helpful, so concerned and caring. Matthew wants to help his fellow Jews sort out just how this Jesus character really is the Messiah promised to Israel, and he scours the Scriptures (what we call the Old Testament) for every interpretive lens and motif he can find to bring meaning to the traumatic cross. Luke takes another tactic, pointing his Jews toward the growing faith of Gentiles and helping those Gentiles get a handle on the Jewish roots of their new faith, and he even writes up a volume 2, what we call Acts, as an introductory guide to the new community called “church” that believers in Jesus are going to find themselves in. And John is so freaking enraptured by the love of the heavenly Father poured out in the incarnate flesh of the Son and spread abroad by the Advocate-Comforter-Holy Spirit that he explains it to death. Love love love light light light bread bread bread for chapters chapters chapters!
These three guys, Matthew, Luke and John, are your ideal pastors, anticipating your every doubt, providing well-thought-out, intelligent, sensitive answers, tossing out soft cushions for your newborn faith to land on.
Then there’s Mark… Read More