Mark – can it tell us anything about Christmas?
I wonder how many people came to this section with no idea that Mark says nothing about Christmas. I’m sure I snagged a few theologians who think I’m either unschooled or a heretic and are reading to find which it is.
If Luke places Jesus in world history and Matthew places Jesus in Jewish history, we can say Mark places God in Soteriological History. Don’t worry that’s just a big word for “salvation”.
Mark’s conspicuous absence of a nativity account speaks volumes to us and that’s what I want us to consider.
Why would Mark leave Christmas out?
Why would Mark – that in many ways is so close to its synoptic brothers (Matthew and Luke) – leave out any mention of the coming of Jesus as a baby?
The book starts with a quick mention of John the Baptist and then right into Jesus’ baptism and ministry.
He doesn’t seem to care about the prophecies Jesus fulfilled like Matthew.
He certainly doesn’t care to put Jesus into Jewish or World history.
Some describe Mark a a passion with a longer introduction. Before I explain that, let’s take a look at a few things about this book.
History of Mark
Since the earliest times it’s been held that Mark, while a witness to the events of Jesus’ life, was the scribe for Peter.
Remember Peter was the one to jump onto the waves. He was the one to run into the tomb when John stopped at the entrance. He was the one to speak up when the rest of the disciples were quite.
Peter was the impetuous one.
Look at how Young’s Literal Translation renders three verses in Mark 1:
And the fame of him went forth immediately to all the region, round about, of Galilee. And immediately, having come forth out of the synagogue, they went to the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John, and the mother-in-law of Simon was lying fevered, and immediately they tell him about her, and having come near, he raised her up, having laid hold of her hand, and the fever left her immediately, and she was ministering to them. Mark 1:28-31 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)
42 times in 16 chapter (and these are just the ones that make it into English) the word “immediately” is used in the book.
Everything is focussed on the one event.
Everything in Mark is focussed on the one event. Everything rushes towards the reason Jesus came.
Mark is so focussed on the passion of Christ – His death on the cross – that he doesn’t have time to waste on Jesus‘ birth.
And that’s something we can never forget in the Christmas season.
Yes, Jesus came as a baby and we celebrate his birthday on the only day early Christians could celebrate together as slave and free – the pagan holiday of Saturnalius – but we should never forget Jesus came to this world to die.
Christmas without the cross is no better than a pagan holiday.
And everything changed at the cross.
- Guilt was removed (Justification). Romans 3:23-24
- The price of sin was paid (Redemption). Romans 3:25
- Our sins were washed (Propitiation). 1 Corinthians 6:11
- We were made friends again with God (Reconciliation). 2 Corinthians 5:19
- We are no longer fallen (Identification). Ephesians 2:4-6
- Satan’s Rule Was Ended (Reclamation). Colossians 2:15
- The curse of the law was canceled (Expiation). Galatians 3:13
Everything changed at the cross.
The real, real, real meaning of Christmas that Mark tells us is that Jesus came to die.
So how do you respond to Jesus' invitation to become friends again with God? He's calling you to himself.
If you've already responded to His grace, he's calling you to a closer walk with him.
If you've decided to walk closer to God for either of reasons, I'd like to