As Bridgeway church is coming to the end of a year and a half of diving into Mark, I thought I would take up Keller’s work on the subject. While there are many views on who Jesus is in contemporary culture (Just google his name to see a plethora of ideas), the best place to get a clear picture of who He is, what He taught, and whether He should mean anything to us is at the original sources. While the other gospels are much more comprehensive concerning Jesus’ teaching (Luke and Matthew) and His divinity (John), the gospel of Mark gives us a fast paced narrative of His life and work for us, so as to stress the big picture/main point. It is broken up into two sections:
-His identity as the God-Man (Mark 1-8)
-His purpose in dying on the cross (Mark 9-16)
If you are looking for an overview commentary with great pastoral care on the gospel of Mark, this would be your book. While there is certainly a theological richness to it (it’s Tim Keller of course), Keller reaches further into everyday application for the reader as he expounds on the major passages that flow from one of the earliest writings in the New Testament. Each chapter could be a sermon in and of itself.
One thing I enjoyed most about Keller’s insight in this volume is his ability to expound on the differences between gospel and religion in the Bible. Jesus makes it undoubtably clear that there is a vast gaping span between working your way to God and receiving His grace.
Concerning the religious/work righteous: “They all have the same logic: If I perform, if I obey, I’m accepted. The gospel of Jesus is not only different from that but diametrically opposed to it: I’m fully accepted in Jesus Christ, therefore I obey.”
“The gospel isn’t advice: It’s the good news that you don’t need to earn your way to God; Jesus has already done it for you. And it’s a gift that you receive by sheer grace – through God’s thoroughly unmerited favor. If you seize that gift and keep holding on to it, then Jesus’ call won’t draw you into fanaticism or moderation. You will be passionate to make Jesus your absolute goal and priority, to orbit around him; yet when you meet somebody with a different set of priorities, a different faith, you won’t assume that they’re inferior to you. You’ll actually seek to serve them rather than oppress them. Why? Because the gospel is not about choosing to follow advice, it’s about being called to follow a King. Not just someone with power and authority to tell you what needs to be done – but someone with the power and authority to do what needs to be done, and then offer it to you as good news.”