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I. Things Omitted from Mark’s Gospel.
1. Just as the skill of a master artist is discovered in the objects which he leaves out of his picture (the amateur crowding in everything on to the canvass for which he can find room), so the discerning eye at once detects the handiwork of the Holy Spirit in the various things which are included and omitted from different parts of the Word. Notably is this the case with Mark’s Gospel. Here we find no Genealogy at the commencement, as in Matthew; the miraculous Conception is omitted, and there is no mention made of His birth. Fancy a whole Gospel written and yet no reference to the Saviour’s birth in it! At first glance this is puzzling, but a little reflection assures one of the Divine wisdom which directed Mark to say nothing about it. Once we see what is the special design of each separate Gospel, we are the better enabled to appreciate their individual perfections. The birth of Christ did not fall within the compass of this second Gospel, nor did the record of His genealogy. Mark is presenting Christ as the Servant of Jehovah, and in connection with a servant a genealogy or particulars of birth are scarcely points of interest or importance. But how this demonstrates the Divine Authorship of the books of the Bible! Suppose the Genealogy had been omitted by Matthew, and inserted by Mark, then, the unity of each Gospel would have been destroyed. But just as the Creator placed each organ of the body in the wisest possible place, so the Holy Spirit guided in the placing of each book in the Bible (each member in this Living Organism), and each detail of each book. For the same reason as the Genealogy is omitted, nothing is said by Mark of the visit of the wise men, for a “servant” is not one that receives homage! Mark also passes over what Luke tells us of Christ as a boy of twelve in the temple of Jerusalem, and His subsequent return to Nazareth, where He continued in subjection to His parents, for, while these are points of interest in connection with His humanity, they were irrelevant to a setting forth of His Servanthood.
2. In Mark’s Gospel we find no Sermon on the Mount. Matthew devotes three whole chapters to it, but Mark records it not, though some of its teachings are found in other connections in this second Gospel. Why, then, we may ask, is this important utterance of Christ omitted by Mark? The answer must be sought in the character and design of the “Sermon.” As we have pointed out, the Sermon on the Mount contains the King’s Manifesto. It sets forth the laws of His Kingdom, and describes the character of those who are to be its subjects. But Mark is presenting Christ as the perfect Workman of God, and a servant has no “Kingdom,” and frames no “laws.” Hence the appropriateness of the “Sermon” in Matthew, and the Divine wisdom in its exclusion from Mark.
3. Mark records fewer Parables than Matthew. In Mark there are but four all told, whereas in Matthew there are at least fourteen. Mark says nothing about the Householder hiring laborers for His vineyard, claiming the right to do as He wills with that which is His own; for, as God’s Servant, He is seen in the place of the Laborer, instead of in the position where He hires others. Mark omits all reference to the parable of the Marriage of the King’s Son, at the close of which He is seen giving orders for the man without the wedding-garment to be bound and cast into the outer darkness—such is not the prerogative of a Servant. All reference to the parable of the Talents is omitted by Mark, for as God’s Servant He neither gives talents nor rewards for the use of them. Each of these parables, and many others all found in Matthew, are excluded by Mark, and their omission only serves to bring out the minute perfections of each Gospel.
4. In Mark nothing whatever is said of Christ’s command over angels, and His right to send them forth to do His bidding; instead we find here “the angels ministered unto Him” (1:13).
5. Here there is no arraignment of Israel, and no sentence is passed upon Jerusalem as in the other Gospels. Again, in Matt. 23 the “Son of David” utters a most solemn sevenfold “Woe”—“Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites,” “Woe unto you, ye blind guides” etc., He says there; but not a word of this is found in Mark. The reason for this is obvious. It is not the part of the Servant to pass judgment on others, but “to be gentle unto all, apt to teach, patient” (2 Tim. 2:24). We have another striking illustration of this same characteristic in connection with our Lord cleansing the Temple. In Matt. 21:12 we read, “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves,” and immediately following this we are told, “And He left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and He lodged there” (21:17). But in Mark it is simply said, “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when He had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, He went out unto Bethany with the twelve” (11:11). Mark is clearly writing of the same incident. He refers to the Lord entering the temple, but says nothing about Him casting out those who bought and sold there, nor of Him overthrowing the tables. How striking is this omission. As the Messiah and King it was fitting that He should cleanse the defiled Temple, but in His character of Servant it would have been incongruous!
6. The omission of so many of the Divine titles from this second Gospel is most significant. In Mark, He is never owned as “King” save in derision. In Mark, we do not read, as in Matthew, “They shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us,” and only once is He here termed “the Son of David.” It is very striking to observe how the Holy Spirit has avoided this in the second Gospel. In connection with the “Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem,” when recording the acclamations of the people, Matthew says, “And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest” (21:9). But in Mark’s account we read, “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna: Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord: Blessed be the Kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest” (11:9, 10). Thus it will be seen that the Servant of God was not hailed here as “the Son of David.” Side by side with this, should be placed the words used by our Lord when announcing, a week beforehand, His “transfiguration.” In Matthew’s account, we read that He told His disciples, “Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom.” But, here in Mark, we are told that He said to the disciples, “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the Kingdom of God come with power” (9:1). How significant this is! Here it is simply the “Kingdom of God” that is spoken of, instead of Christ’s own Kingdom!
But that which is most noteworthy here in connection with the titles of Christ, is the fact that He is so frequently addressed as “Master,” when, in the parallel passages in the other Gospels, He is owned as “Lord.” For example: in Matt. 8:25 we read, “And His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying Lord, save us; we perish;” but in Mark, “And they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” (4:38). Following the announcement of His coming death, Matthew tells us, “Then Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him, saying, Be it far from Thee, Lord: this shall not be unto Thee” (16:22). But in Mark it reads, “And Peter took Him, and began to rebuke Him” (8:32), and there it stops. On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter said, “Lord, it is good for us to be here” (17:4); but Mark says, “And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here” (9:5). When the Saviour announced that one of the Twelve would betray Him, Matthew tells us, “And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Lord, is it I?” (26:22); but Mark tells us, “And they began to be sorrowful, and to say unto Him, one by one, “Is is I?” (14:19). These are but a few of the examples which might be adduced, but sufficient have been given to bring out this striking and most appropriate feature of Mark’s Gospel.
7. It is deeply interesting and instructive to note the various circumstances and events connected with our Lord’s sufferings which are omitted from Mark. Here, as He entered the awful darkness of Gethsemane, He says to the three disciples, “Tarry ye here, and watch” (14:34), not “watch with Me,” as in Matthew, for as the Servant He turns only to God for comfort; and here, nothing is said at the close, of an angel from Heaven appearing and “strengthening” Him, for as Servant He draws strength from God alone. No mention is made by Mark of Pilate’s “I find no fault in Him,” nor are we told of Pilate’s wife counselling her husband to have nothing to do with “this Just Man,” nor do we read here of Judas returning to the priests, and saying, “I have betrayed innocent blood;” all of these are omitted by Mark, for the Servant must look to God alone for vindication. Nothing is said in Mark of the women following Christ as He was led to the place of execution, “bewailing and lamenting Him” (Luke 23:27), for sometimes the suffering Servant of God is denied the sympathy of others. The words of the dying thief, “Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom” are here omitted, for in this Gospel, Christ is neither presented as “Lord” nor as One having a “Kingdom.” The Saviour’s triumphant cry from the Cross, “It is finished” is also omitted. At first sight this seems strange, but a little reflection will discover the Divine wisdom for its exclusion. It is not for the Servant to say when his work is finished—that is for God to decide! We pass on now to notice
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