Thursday, 10 March 2011

Gospel before Jesus

Reading Mark 8:27-38 today, and comparing it against the equivalent in Matthew and Luke, it struck me that only in Mark does Jesus mention the gospel message.

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. (35)

In Matthew and Luke, Jesus only talks about losing one's life for Jesus' sake. In some texts, it's only for the sake of the gospel and not for Jesus' sake.

What's Mark getting at? Or, what did Matthew and Luke miss? Can it be that even Jesus saw the gospel as more important than himself, not only in life - since this is the moment that he began to teach about his own death - but also in reputation? It's one thing to die a noble death that's remembered, and another to die an obscure death for the sake of something larger. I think we see in Mark that the gospel message must not be obscured by the person of Jesus. Given the other pointers in the text around v35, there's no way that we can say that Mark wants the gospel message ahead of Jesus. But suppose that's what Jesus wanted. Have we not given preference to Jesus the person over the gospel message each time we talk about a "personal relationship with Jesus" at the exclusion of our responsibilities for action?

It sits better with us to keep the two as inseparable - the man and the message. And that inseparability holds true for Christians - that we and the gospel message must be one and the same.
Post a Comment