The Passion of the Christ according to the Gospel of Mark -- By: William F. Cook, III

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 08:3 (Fall 2004)
Article: The Passion of the Christ according to the Gospel of Mark
Author: William F. Cook, III


The Passion of the Christ according to the Gospel of Mark

William F. Cook, III

William F. Cook, III is Associate Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and also serves as senior pastor at Ninth and O Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. Prior to joining the faculty at Southern Seminary, he taught at the Baptist College of Florida for nine years. Dr. Cook has written a number of scholarly articles and has extensive ministry experience.

Introduction

Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, has created quite a stir (to say the least!). It is the eighth highest grossing domestic film of all time. The movie was seen by thirty-one percent of adults in the United States.1 Regardless of one’s take on the movie, there can be no doubt that it turned the nation’s attention (for at least a few weeks) to the final hours of the life of Jesus Christ. As powerful as the visual presentation of Christ’s passion is in the movie, the biblical portrayal is every bit as stirring, if not more so. For in the passion narrative, Mark portrays the culmination of Jesus’ earthly ministry and his final hours leading up to his death.

Mark’s Gospel has been described as a passion narrative with an extended introduction. While such a description is slightly exaggerated, the passion narrative plays a crucial role in Mark’s Gospel. This is seen in the amount of space Mark devotes to Jesus’ final days. Approximately forty-percent of the book (chapters 11–15) details Jesus’ passion week. In chapters 14 and 15, Jesus’ final hours, beginning with preparation for the Last Supper and culminating with his death on the cross, are depicted. One way ancient writers emphasized an event was by devoting a significant amount of space to it. Mark devotes ten chapters to a ministry that lasted about three years. As mentioned above, he devotes six chapters to the final week, beginning with Jesus’ triumphal entry and concluding with the empty tomb. Mark “slows down” his narrative to describe, in what is truly remarkable detail, what happened to Jesus from his entry into Gethsemane until his burial in the tomb.

The purpose of this article is to give a brief exposition of the passion story in Mark’s Gospel, with a particular focus on matters of historicity. In chapters 14 and 15, Mark answers two questions for his readers: why Jesus had to die and how he died. Jesus died as a part of God’s plan. This is seen in Mark’s repeated references and allusions to the Old Testament scriptures and the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophetic pronouncements concerning his death. The second question is answered by his depiction of Jesus’ dying completely ...

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