Does the Gospel of Mark Present Jesus as God?
by Michael Kruger
Over the years it has been claimed (again and again) that John presents Jesus as divine, and the Synoptic gospels, particularly Mark, present Jesus as human. Therefore, it is argued, we have different versions of Christology within early Christianity.
While we certainly can agree that different gospels have different emphases, and that they articulate Christological truths in their own ways, is it really the case that gospels like Mark view Jesus as merely human? Not at all. In fact, it is worth noting that Mark presents Jesus as God from the very opening few verses in his gospel, in a manner that is often missed on a quick reading of that passage.
For a gospel apparently written with a Gentile audience in mind, Mark does not begin his story of Jesus where we might expect. He doesn’t begin with Jesus’ birth, or his baptism, or with any other event in the first century. Instead, Mark reminds the reader that the story of the gospel began many generations before when God made promises to the people of Israel.
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In other words, Mark does not present the Jesus as the start of a new story, but as the completion of an old one.
Mark accomplishes this by beginning his gospel with citations from the Old Testament. Let us consider the first one which is from Mal 3:1 (with a little help from Ex 23:20). When we compare Mark’s citation of Mal 3:1 with the original wording of Mal 3:1, some interesting things emerge:
Mal 3:1: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.”
The first notable observation is that in the original context of Mal 3:1, it is God himself who is coming…