Some people think that the fact that we have four Gospels is a great problem. They compare the narratives with a fine-tooth comb, looking for contradictions, for problems that they can exploit. To them, the existence of four different Gospels is perhaps Christianity’s greatest weakness. I couldn’t disagree more. The four Gospels are a great gift from God to His Church. Together, they don’t give contradictions; they give a full picture of the work and teachings of Christ. Each evangelist brings a different perspective, they pick up on different details, giving each of their narratives a richness that deserves to be explored on their own terms. That is what we are doing this Holy Week, and today, we look at the Passion of our Lord according to Saint Mark.
Mark is concerned with identity, specifically the identity of this Jesus. His Gospel opens with these words, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Mark makes it quite clear where his allegiances lie. His narrative is about this Jesus, who Mark believes is the very Son of God. The only problem is, no one in his gospel agrees with him! At least, no human agrees with him. The Father’s voice at Christ’s baptism calls Him “my beloved Son,” and the demons call Him “Son of the Most High God,” but no human makes such a confession; that is, until the cross. Mark tells us, “And when the centurion, who stood facing Him, saw that in this way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’” The only human in Mark’s Gospel to confess Jesus as the Son of God is a Roman centurion at the cross. In this way, Mark is teaching us a powerful lesson. It is only in the death of Christ that we can fully understand and confess Him to be the Son of God, and this death is for all. He is revealed at the cross; there is where we look to see our God, for there He is suffering, He is dying, in His great love and compassion for you and for me. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!