When is the last time you read through the gospel of Mark? If you have done at all I’m sure that you will have become aware that Mark likes to use the word: ‘immediately’ a lot! In fact, the ESV has ‘immediately’ in Mark around 40 times. A good friend of mine pointed this out to me a little while ago and set me off on a quest to find an answer to why it was that Mark used this word. Here are 6 incomplete reasons why it makes sense to me the Mark would use this word as frequently as he does.
1. The book is directed at Romans more particularly (as opposed to Matthew, for example, being written for Jews). Romans are men of action, drive and purpose. Therefore Mark writes so that the Romans are able to relate to this Jesus who is himself a man of action, drive and purpose. Jesus’ ministry is a ministry of immediacy.
2. Jesus is, Himself, a man of immediacy and action. Mark wants to bring out this element of Jesus’ character.
3. Jesus appears on the scene, in the gospels, after 400 ‘years of silence’- years in which no scriptures were written. During this time the people of God were sadly characterized by inaction and laziness in their job of being a light to the nations. It is in contrast to Israel’s inaction that Jesus appears as a man of immediacy and action. Jesus is the new Israel- the true Israel.
4. Jesus’ name is basically the same as the name of Joshua in the Old Testament. If there is one character in the Old Testament who is particularly striking as a man of immediacy and action it is Joshua. Jesus appears as a new Joshua, conquering the land again for God and destroying the strongholds of wickedness. Jesus, like Joshua, is a man of action- He is a diligent servant of God going about His work with immediate action.
5. The gospel of Mark particularly focuses on Jesus as a servant (Zechariah 3:8). That is one reason why there is no genealogy (who wants to know the genealogy of a servant?). No sooner does Jesus the servant arrive than He is found involved busy at work here and there. A servant acts immediately on his master’s will.
6. Only important things are worth doing immediately. If Jesus appears does acts ‘immediately’ we can justly infer that His work was an important work. Jesus acts immediately and means business. Our Lord and Saviour doesn’t mess around!
If any of you have other reasons to add please do comment below. I would certainly be interested to hear them!
Having read through that list initially why not do something practical? Read back through the list carefully and as you do so as the question: given that I am to follow the example of Jesus, my Saviour, how should this particular element of Jesus ministry become part of my character and life? Or, put more simply: how should this idea of immediacy become part of our lives?
By Thomas van den Broek