THE SERVANT OF GOD.
"The second living creature was like unto a Calf." -- REV. 4:7.
"Much increase is by the strength of the Ox." -- PROV. 14:4.
"THE second living creature was like unto an Ox." And the second Gospel reveals the Lord in that aspect of which the Ox is the appointed figure. He stands here as the patient Servant and Sacrifice for others, spending and being spent to serve the sons of men. The first glance, indeed, at this Gospel does not give us the same broad distinction which meets us upon the very face of the other three. A second look will prove that it has marks, which are in their way quite as conclusive and characteristic as the unmistakeable distinctions of the other Gospels. (The fact that one sect of early heretics chose this Gospel in preference to the others, on account of its contents, proves that at that day something distinctive could be seen in it. Irenaeus, Adv. Hoer. lib. iii. c. 11.) And though the peculiarities are, I own, minute, yet this is compensated for by the fact that they are very many, and meet us again and again in every page. The strokes may be faint, and the touches fine, but their very fineness shews a Master's hand, which without the exaggeration of caricature, by lines too minute to arrest the careless eye, can present a perfect picture. Of course, the subject itself in the main is the same in all the Gospels; the Lord's life being the material of each narrative; but this only makes the distinctions more instructive: and though the disputer of this world may stumble, the humble imitator of God is richly taught.
I now proceed to these distinctions, which I may arrange as, first, the omissions, secondly, the additions, peculiar to this Gospel. From both we shall be able to note what is special and characteristic in the view of Christ here presented to us.
And here before I notice the omissions, I would observe how much may be gathered, not only from what is taught, but also from what is omitted, in certain parts of Holy Scripture. Even had no Apostle shewn us the significance of a slight omission, one with right thoughts of God might have anticipated that the whole form of a revelation from Him, and thus its omissions, could not be without reason. But, as ever, in pity to the ignorant and weak, the Lord gives us an example to shew what we may expect in, and how we ought to read, His Word. Thus writing to the Hebrews, the Apostle points out how much is to be learned from the simple fact, that in the history of Melchisedec, nothing is narrated either of his birth or death. He is presented to us "without father, or mother, without descent or pedigree, having neither beginning of days nor end of life" (Heb. 7:3). And this omission, says the Apostle, is with purpose, and full of teaching, specially intended to shew how One should arise, both king and priest, who in the fullest sense should be "without beginning of days, or end of life." Equally instructive, as many know, are the omissions in other types, and to take a broader example, the omissions in the Books of Chronicles as compared with the history given in the Books of Kings. An apprehension of God's purpose in each of these books shews how significant the omission is, and how, in ways the world cannot see, God's wisdom is revealed to His own, even if they be babes and sucklings. It is the same in the case of the Gospels. Be it omission or addition, each is perfect; and for the eye that can see it, (though, indeed, few are seers -- "a seer is a prophet,") both are equally subjects for instructive contemplation.
As to the omissions then in this Gospel, many points might be adduced. I confine myself to the more obvious ones, which I would now note in order. Here, then, is no genealogy, no miraculous birth, no reference to Bethlehem, or adoration of the wise men, as in St Matthew's Gospel. No childhood at Nazareth, no subjection to His parents, no increase in wisdom and stature, as in St Luke; no reference to His pre-existence and Divine glory, as in St John's Gospel. All these points, important in their bearing on the kingdom or person of the Lord, would be out of place in the description of His service, and therefore here have no place. On the contrary, St Mark comes at once to service, touching for a moment on that of the Baptist, quoting his testimony that One should follow who should baptize not with water only but with the Holy Ghost; and then passing directly, without further preface to the Lord's own ministry, in exact accordance with his opening words, "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1). The service here is such service as can only be rendered by one who rejoices that He is indeed a Son of God; by one who fully understands that not by service are we made sons, but by sonship may we become servants. When, therefore, St Mark tells us that this is "the Gospel of the Son," we are prepared for service springing from the assurance of sonship -- evangelical service as opposed to legal. It is this "Gospel," this ministry or service, which St Mark is about to draw; and, omitting what does not bear on this, he comes straight to the details of this ministry.
Then here is no Sermon on the Mount. The laws of the kingdom would be out of place, for the Servant, not the King, is here manifested. Here is no "Our Father," which, so full of character in St Matthew and St Luke, as illustrating the wants and relationships both of the Jew and Gentile, is here omitted as having no special bearing on the path of service. For the same reason we have here no lengthened discourses, and but few parables; for the service here is rather doing than teaching, -- there are both, -- but the mind of the Spirit seems to be occupied more with the former of these than with the latter. Doing, and toiling, and serving the needy, is far humbler work than teaching. As teacher one holds more of a place of authority than consists with the idea of pure service. Here the service presented is that of which the Ox is the fittest emblem, a service of which very little, spite of abounding preaching, is to be discovered now. In a word, throughout this Gospel, as another has said, it is not Christ's claim on men, so much as man's claim on Christ, and His grace and power, which the Spirit here witnesses. Thus, while authoritative discourses and parables are few compared with the corresponding chapters of the other Gospels, the details of service are given far more minutely.
And yet, though for the most part parables are omitted, there is one peculiar to this Gospel, in which, as we might anticipate from the fact of its insertion only here, we have something characteristic and instructive as to true ministry. Indeed, I believe that all the parables given in this Gospel, -- there are but four, (The Sower, the Seed which grew secretly, the Mustard-seed (ch. 4), and the Wicked Husbandmen (ch. 12). The connexion of the truth contained in each of these four parables with ministry is obvious.) -- bear upon this question. But as to that parable which is only here, of "the Seed which grew secretly, first the blade, then the ear, and then the full corn" (Mark 4:26-29), what is it but an encouragement to servants to sow in faith, and then leave results to Him who only can give increase? It seems to me as if the Lord himself here spoke out of the abundance of His heart; that He was expressing His own assurance of a full return for all His sore travail; and that in prospect of His death He rejoiced in the thought that whether the sower "sleep or rise," the seed should yet spring up and increase greatly. I find in St Matthew in the corresponding place, that instead of this parable, which here comes in between that of "the Sower," and "the Mustard-seed;" there, between these same parables, we have that of "the Tares," which finds no place in this Gospel. The reason is plain. The parable of "the Tares" gives our Lord the place of power. Such words as these, "In the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, Gather first the tares, and bind them in bundles, and burn them," though exactly suited to the Lord of the kingdom, are for that very reason out of character here, and as such are not recorded.
To continue the notice of omissions. Here is no arraignment of the nation, no sentence passed upon Jerusalem, as in the other Gospels. I look in vain for the repeated judgment, "Woe unto you," so marked in St Matthew; but instead of this, in the corresponding chapter, Jesus is here represented as sitting opposite to the treasury, and watching a poor widow (compare Matt 21-23 with Mark 12). If the Lord must judge, the Servant has an eye for service: unsparingly spending His own life for men, He can see and appreciate the spending of the last farthing. Here as everywhere the thing noticed answers to the beholder's state. Oh that this fact, so continually meeting us in these Gospels, might awaken some by what they see to discover where and what they are!
Again, in the prophecy on the Mount of Olives (compare Matt. 24-25 with Mark 13), here is no Bridegroom, as in St Matthew, receiving the wise and rejecting the foolish virgins; here is no Lord judging between faithful and unfaithful servants; no King, enthroned in glory, separating the nations to the right and left hand. But on the contrary, here only we read, touching the coming of the Son of Man, "Of that day, and that hour, knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" (Mark 13:32), -- words which, as they are peculiar to this Gospel, so also are very characteristic: for here the Son is seen with glory laid aside, clothed in the likeness of man, in very deed a true Servant. And in this aspect, like other servants, He awaits another's will, not knowing the lord's secrets; for "the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth" (John 15:15). And so as Servant He says, naming Himself with other blessed servants, the holy angels, -- "Of that day knoweth no man, no, not the angels, neither the Son, but the Father." Nor does this touch the truth of His Person; for that is not the question here. But just as in St Luke the words, "He increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man," speak of Him as Son of Adam, without in any way contradicting that He is also "the Word made flesh;" just as His death in one aspect is spoken of as "a sweet savour," man freely giving to God what is most sweet to Him, while in another aspect it is regarded as penal and a sin-offering, the due judgment for the sins of men; so in like manner what is true of Him as Servant does not deny His lordship, which is but another view of the same wondrous and blessed Lord.
And these omissions continue to the end. Thus in the Garden, here is no reference to His right to summon twelve legions of angels had He so willed it (compare Mark 14:47-50 and Matt. 26:52-54). Here is no promise of the kingdom on the cross to His dying companion; here is no notice of the resurrection and appearance of saints, accompanying the Lord, as freed by Him, when He arose and led captivity captive. Such acts or claims, perfect in St Matthew, are out of the purpose of the Spirit here, and as such find no place in this Gospel. So in the last scene, the commission to the Apostles to go and preach, the points here recorded, when compared with what St Matthew gives us, are very striking (Matt. 28:18-20 and Mark 16:15-20). There, as befits the Lord of the kingdom, we read that He came and said, "All power is given to me in heaven and in earth: go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Surely the Lord of the kingdom comes out in every word. In St Mark this is omitted, but we have, "Go ye into all the world, preach the gospel to every creature: he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned." For here He is not discipling as with authority, or commanding that "all things which He has commanded should be observed in all nations;" but rather, as knowing the path of service, He hints at the rejection as well as the success, which His servants will surely meet with. "He that believeth, and he that believeth not," -- what a tale is in the words; how do they express the experience of One who knows all the results even of the best service! Now His disciples are to take His place, and He will serve in them: even yet, shall His work be accomplished in His members; and so in this Gospel only we have the special promise of power through His name, to work even as He worked (Mark 16:17, 18). Then the Gospel thus closes, "They went forth and preached, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following;" for He is yet the Worker, though risen; so wonderfully, to the very end, does this Gospel preserve its own distinct character; from its opening words, beginning with "the Gospel of Jesus Christ," down to the promise of the spread of it through His servants to all nations.
I have thus marked some of the chief omissions which strike us in St Mark; but, even in what is recorded, and where in substance the narrative follows St Matthew, there is in this Gospel ever a lower and softened tone. Thus in John's testimony to Jesus, this Evangelist stops short, omitting the prediction, that "He should burn the chaff with fire unquenchable" (compare Mark 1:8 and Matt. 3:11, 12). So in the account of the ordination of "the twelve," in St Matthew we read that "He sent them forth, and commanded them saying, Go not thus, but go thus and thus" (Matt. 10:5, 6), as with authority. In St Mark we read, "He ordained twelve that they might be with Him" (Mark 3:14); they are regarded rather as His companions in service, in which relation they are seen throughout this whole Gospel. For, and it is very characteristic, never do they call Him "Lord" in this Gospel. On the contrary, the word is remarkably omitted, till after His resurrection, in scenes where it occurs in the corresponding place in the other Gospels. For example, when the leper comes, in St Matthew he says, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean" (Matt. 8:2). In St Mark I read, "A leper came beseeching Him, and saying, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean" (Mark 1:40). So at the supper. In St Matthew, "They began to say, Lord, is it I?" (Matt. 26:22). In St Mark, "They began to say unto Him, one by one, Is it I? and another said, Is it I?" (Mark 14:19). The word "Lord" is markedly omitted. So in the case of the dumb child, the father cries out, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24). In our authorised version I find "Lord" inserted here in St Mark; but Griesbach, without the slightest reference to the character of the Gospel, marks this word as one which is "absolutely spurious," and which as such has no place in his version. So in the storm. In St Matthew we read that the disciples cried, "Lord, save us" (Matt. 8:25). We look in vain for such a word in the corresponding place in St Mark's Gospel (Mark 4:37, &c). Is this chance? Surely, if not a sparrow falls to the ground without being marked, a title of the beloved Son is not dropped out of a Gospel without the Father's knowledge. The omission or change here is of a piece with the form of His ancient Word, now speaking of Elohim, now of Shaddai, now of Jehovah, suiting His titles according to the matter in hand, and His own relation to it, as Creator, Protector, or God in covenant. (Those acquainted with the Old Testament know that the name of God varies according to the subject-matter which is discoursed of. Thus in Genesis 1 God is Elohim. In Gen. 2 He is Jehovah-Elohim. A title suffices to describe Him in the work of creation, which is not enough when His relation to His creature man comes to be described. In a deeper sense I may say, God is known by a different name in the days of labour, and in that Paradise where man is set in relationship to God as lord of all. In Psalm 91:1-2, we have four titles of the Lord brought into the compass of a single sentence. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, (the name by which He was known to Melchizedek, 'priest of the Most High God,') shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty, (the name by which He was known to Abraham;) I will say of Jehovah, (the covenant name for Israel,) He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, (my Elohim,) in Him will I trust." To the believer the names of God are full of meaning, as revelations of His nature, and property, and covenant-relationships.) The taught of the Father know this, and rejoice to trace His wisdom, even where others, making their blindness the judge of all things, can perceive no beauty.
But it is time I should turn from omissions to what is positively distinctive here. And though I am well assured that only one well practised in shewing kindness can see the whole of these wonders, though a servant's eye may be needed to know the import of some touches here, the heart must be hard indeed, which sees nothing in the details peculiar to this Gospel. Trifling as each is by itself, the aggregate of the whole is an amount of teaching, from which the best trained servant may continually draw some fresh lesson.
The first point I notice then is the fact, here only recorded, in the temptation, that "He was with the wild beasts" (Mark 1:13). This is a true mark of him who can serve, that, like David of old, he has, in the wilderness and alone, overcome the lion and the bear, before in public he fights against Goliath. Let such as would serve lay this to heart. If called to service, they may expect for a season to be among the wild beasts. Alone with God, let us overcome such. Then we may go forth, and fight for, and serve Israel.
The next thing I observe is the remarkable repetition of the word, "forthwith." We cannot read a single chapter carefully, or consult a Concordance, -- of course a Greek Concordance should be used, for the same word, eutheos, is in our version indifferently translated, "straightway," "forthwith," and "immediately," -- without being struck with the recurrence of this word. Thus, to take but a single chapter, -- the first may serve as an example, -- Jesus is baptized, and then "immediately" He is driven into the wilderness. Then when He returns and begins His service, "He saw James and John, and straightway He called them, and they went after Him. And they went into Capernaum, and straightway on the Sabbath-day He entered into a synagogue, and taught, and cast out an unclean spirit. ... And forthwith, when they came out of the synagogue, they entered into Simon's house; and Simon's wife's mother was sick, and anon (the same word) they tell Him of her. ... And there came a leper, and as soon as He had spoken immediately the leprosy departed, ... and forthwith He sent him away. And again He entered into Capernaum, and straightway many were gathered, ... and immediately, when Jesus perceived that they reasoned in their hearts, He said," &c. (Mark 1:12, 20, 21, 29, 30, 42, &c.) Now this runs through the Gospel, and is peculiar to it; (I see, by a reference to Schmid's Concordance, that the word eutheos only occurs eighty times in the New Testament, and of these instances forty are found in the short Gospel of St Mark.) and when it is taken in connexion with other expressions, such as "in the way," "in the house," " as He sat at meat," or "as He walked in the temple," we get a glimpse of what is meant by "instant in season, out of season," and what befits one who is called to be the Lord's servant.
Then as to the way in which He served. We have here many details, as to His demeanour, and bearing, and looks, not to be found in any other Gospel. Thus in the case of the little children who were brought that He should touch them, here only do we read, that "He took them up in His arms, and blessed them." (Mark 10:16. Compare Matt. 19:13-15.) So again, of the child whom He set in the midst, here only, "He took him in His arms." (Mark 9:36. Compare Matt. 18:2.) Here only is it seen of Peter's wife's mother, that "He took her by the hand and lifted her up." (Mark 1:31. Compare Luke 4:38-39). So again, here only do we read, "He took the blind man by the hand" (Mark 8:23). Here only is it noticed of the child which had the dumb spirit, that "Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up." (Mark 9:27. Compare Matt. 17:18 and Luke 9:42.) I need not stay to speak of the tenderness these acts display; but I believe many have yet to learn what ought to be, and has been, the effect of the touch and hand of God's servants. I know that "laying on of hands" is now by many regarded as a mere form. I will only say, time was when virtue accompanied the hand of God's servants; nay, when even the shadow of an Apostle could heal. It will not hurt us to remember, even if the glory is now departed from us, that such things have once been. And this I will add, that should the day return when devils are rebuked, and lame ones healed, those who look closely will see that a tender hand will not be wanting in such service. "But where," as one has asked, "are the layers on of hands, who give man to himself and God, by casting out his devils? Where is the clergy to whom sickness makes its last appeal for health? We find them among the fishermen of the first century, but not among our priests now. Many say that the age of miracle is past and gone. But Christianity, as we find it in Scripture, was the institution of miracle. And if the age of miracle is well-nigh gone, is it not because the age of Christianity is well-nigh gone? The age of mathematics would be past, if no man cultivated them." But here I forbear. Let us be content to take beggars by the hand: we may then see things wholly out of the range of our present field of vision.
Again in this Gospel the look is noticed, and this in scenes where the other Evangelists in the corresponding places give us no such information. Thus, when they watched Him upon the Sabbath, whether He would heal or not, we read here, "When he had looked round about on them in anger," (Mark 3:5. Compare Matt. 12:13.) -- was there nothing in such a look? So again, when they said, "Thy mother and Thy brethren without seek for Thee;" here only is it noticed, that "He looked round about on them who sat about Him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren." (Mark 3:34. Compare Matt. 12:46-49 and Luke 8:19-21.) So again, when He spoke of His cross, and Peter began to rebuke Him, here only we read, "And when He had turned about, and looked on His disciples, He rebuked Peter." (Mark 8:33. Compare Matt. 16:23.) There must have been something in that look never to be forgotten; a flash of light, a beam of the glory, which made its dwelling in that lowly Servant. So again, in the case of him who came kneeling down and asking, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" here only do we read, that "Jesus looking upon him, loved him;" and then again, "when he went away grieved," here only is it noticed, that "Jesus looking round said to His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!" (Mark 10:20-23. Compare Matt. 19:20-23 and Luke 18:21-24.) Surely not in vain is the look recorded. Let servants mark this: there is no small ministry in a single look, be it of love, or grief, or anger. It may speak what words cannot express. It has ere now, in storm and calm, mid the rush of battle, and in scenes of deep anguish, imparted confidence and peace beyond the power of language. For it speaks truly: hence its deep power. And indeed heaven may be in an eye, its sunshine and rain; and if it be there, though there be no speech nor language, its voice shall still be heard. Oh for a look like that of the Master! Oh for that light of life within, breaking forth through eyes beaming with love and holiness!
To do justice to my subject is beyond me, but as I have spoken of the acts and looks, I may add a reference or two to some of those words of ministry which are peculiar to this Gospel. One example we find in the raising of the daughter of Jairus. The scene is common to three Evangelists, but here only do we get some particulars full of marked tenderness. Thus St Mark alone relates, that when some said, Thy daughter is dead, "Jesus, as soon as He heard the word that was spoken, (The promptness of this reply is very strong in the original: eutheos akousas ton logon laloumenon, k.t.l. -- Mark 5:36. Compare Matt. 9:24.) (as if to save the father a moment's anguish and unbelief,) said, Be not afraid;" brief words, but full of grace, revealing the Servant's heart, who, even while He healed, watched to aid the spiritual progress of those He came to comfort. In the same spirit of mindful affection is Peter specially named here, when after the resurrection a message is sent by the women to the disciples. In St Matthew the angels say, "Go and tell His disciples:" here only, "Tell His disciples, and Peter, that He goeth before you into Galilee." (Mark 16:7. Compare Matt. 28:7.) For Peter more than the rest needed a special word, and so above the rest he is remembered. The good Shepherd, who loves all, has peculiar pity towards the wounded sheep. Thus did this Servant of servants speak a word in season: "He spake," as St Mark tells us, (and the words are peculiar to this Gospel,) "as they were able to bear it" (Mark 4:33); with milk for babes, and meat for the strong, distributing His words, even as His acts, in special pity to the feeble, shewing more abundant grace to that which lacked.
Another point peculiar to this Gospel is the repeated notice we get here of the way in which our Lord permitted Himself to be intruded upon in His retirement, and indeed upon all occasions. So thoroughly was He at the disposal of others, (here only is it noticed,) that "He could not so much as eat" (Mark 3:20; 6:31): for the multitude came together, and it was not in the heart of that blessed Servant to refuse Himself to their importunities. This occurs again and again. Thus after a day of toil, the Lord, rising up early, "went and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed: but Simon and they that were with him, followed after Him; and when they found Him, they said unto Him, All men seek for Thee." Without a murmur He at once receives them, allowing the interruption, and says, "Let us go into the next towns, and preach there also, for therefore am I sent" (Mark 1:35-38). (We find nothing answering to this in the other Gospels.) So again, when His apostles returned from their mission, and gathered themselves together to Him, Jesus says, (and the words are only here,) "Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile;" thus shewing not only His own tender sympathy for them, but teaching how needful retirement is for those who serve others. "So they departed into a desert place by ship privately." But scarce had they got there before "the people ran afoot thither, and came together to Him." And Jesus at once allows the intrusion. He had sought to be alone, nevertheless He rises, and teaches them; and then, because it was a desert place, and they were faint, He feeds them, making His own ease give place to their need. And then, O perfect service! remembering His weary apostles, He constrains them to get into a ship and go away to the other side, "while He sent away the people." (Mark 6:31, &c. Compare Matt. 14:15.) So again, at the close of a day, "when even was come," wearied with toil, He enters a ship with His disciples to pass over to the other side. We read, "They took Him even as He was" (Mark 4:36), -- a remarkable expression, peculiar to this Gospel, and descriptive of His extreme weariness. No sooner is He in the ship than He is asleep. But a storm alarms the disciples; they break in upon His rest; and (in this Gospel only are His words on this occasion given) without a murmur He arises to calm their troubled spirits. Oh, how different from us! Our times of rest must be our own. Sleeping or waking, He lives for others. If others need Him, He is their Servant, "always girded," ever ready to do them good.
And here I may notice that this Evangelist records two miracles, which, as they are peculiar to this Gospel, are also very characteristic of what befits true ministry. The one is the case of "him who was deaf" (Mark 7:32-37); the other, of the blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26). In both I find not only in word, but in act, the Lord manifesting a desire to throw a veil of secresy over these gracious actions. And surely this is one unfailing mark of service according to God, "alms in secret," "the right hand ignorant of what the left hand doeth." This comes out brightly here. We read, "He took him aside, and charged them that they should tell no man" (Mark 7:33, 36): again, "He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town, and said, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town" (Mark 8:23, 26). Words like these requiring secresy, though not so frequently repeated, may be found elsewhere: but acts in which the Servant so remarkably strives to hide Himself, are peculiar to this Gospel. So in the case of the woman of Canaan, here only is it added, "He entered into a house, and would have no man know it" (Mark 7:24). For this is perfection in service, -- to serve unseen, unthanked. Such service is heavenly, like that of the holy angels. "Are they not all ministering spirits?" and yet who sees them, who thanks them? Nor do they ask, nor would they receive, our praise. Enough for them that they are doing the will of God; for they know, that "in keeping, as well as for keeping, His commandments is great reward." Surely not in vain are ministers addressed as "angels of churches" (Rev. 2:1, &c.). May such as count themselves to hold this place, see that tried by this test of unseen service they walk worthy of it.
The peculiarities hitherto noticed refer to what was open in the Lord's service. But several deep and precious secrets of ministry are told out in the peculiarities of this Gospel, as God alone can tell them. Take, for instance, the secret of power. Do any ask, how is it gained? We read here that after having spent a day, healing the hearts and sicknesses of all about him, -- in this one day alone we read that He taught in the synagogue, cast out a devil, healed Peter's wife's mother, and at even relieved the many who were gathered about the door, -- after such a day it is added, "And in the morning rising up a great while before day, He went out to a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35); words which, as they are peculiar to this Gospel, speak with no uncertain voice the one prime secret of all real power in true ministry. Another secret comes out in those references to the exercises of our Lord's soul, which are quite peculiar to this Gospel. Thus, here only do we read, when the leper came, that "Jesus was moved with compassion." (Mark 1:41. Compare Matt. 8:3 and Luke 5:13.) The act of healing is mentioned in St Matthew and St Luke; but St Mark alone gives a glimpse of the exercise of heart in our Lord which accompanied the outward service. So in the feeding of the multitude, here again the heart is laid bare: we read that "When He came out, and saw much people, He was moved with compassion toward them, and began to teach them many things." (Mark 6:33-35. Compare Luke 9:11-12, &c.) So again, when the young ruler comes -- a scene common to the other Gospels (Mark 10:21. Compare Matt. 19:21 and Luke 18:22.) -- here only is it recorded that "Jesus beholding him, loved him." This exercise of soul, the secret of all service, comes out in this Gospel, and only here. As a key to service, here it is quite perfect, teaching a lesson many need to learn, that without love the most costly service will be unlike the Lord's, and all barren. Another secret of service is noticed in the cure of the child possessed with an unclean spirit. The scene generally is common to two of the other Gospels; but here only do we read that the father of the child cried out, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us," to which the Lord instantly replies, in words only found in this Gospel, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible." (Mark 9:22-23. Compare Matt. 17:14-18 and Luke 9:37-42.) A deep secret of ministry is here. Not only must love be in the servant, but there must be faith on the part of the patient who comes to seek blessing. I can only serve those who trust me. And agreeably to this we read again -- words only to be found in this Gospel -- that in a certain place "He could do no mighty works, because of their unbelief" (Mark 6:5, 6); shewing how the most loving service is of no avail if met by unbelief, while faith draws yet more of the riches of God's hidden treasures out of His servants' hands.
One other point, and I have done. In no Evangelist but St Mark do I find the same detail as to the special trials, inward and outward, which our Lord suffered. I say nothing of His weary days, that "He had no leisure so much as to eat" -- a circumstance twice recorded in this Gospel, and only here: but His "grief for their hardness of heart" (Mark 3:5), an expression peculiar to this Gospel, lifts the veil, and shews something of the wear of spirit which His service cost this blessed Servant. So again, here only do we find the reproach, -- "They said, He is beside Himself" (Mark 3:21), -- because His service lacked that selfish prudence which a selfish world praises; a reproach which an Apostle felt so keenly that he answers it, saying, "If we be beside ourselves, or sober, it is for your sake" (2 Cor. 5:13); a reproach felt by our Lord, but unanswered, save by the answer of a yet ceaseless, unmurmuring, patient, loving service. Then in this Gospel only do we read, that "He marvelled because of their unbelief," when they refer to His calling, in answer to His works, saying, "Is not this the Carpenter?" (Mark 6:3, 6). Here only do we read that "He sighed," and again, that "He sighed deeply" (Mark 7:34; 8:12); for in His service He did not offer to God that which cost Him nothing; teaching us too that if we would serve as He did, there must be many "sighs," the fruit first of sympathy with the pain around us, and then of rejected kindnesses. Then again, here only are we told, when He was led out to suffer, that "They bear Him." First we read, "They led Him out that they might crucify Him:" but He seems to have failed under the burden, for soon "They compel another to bear His cross;" and then St Mark tells us "They bear Him" (Gr. pherousin auton -- Mark 15:20, 22), as if actually supporting Him, "to the place called Golgotha." A fit end to such unsparing labour. He was worn out, and needed to be borne, and long before the thieves crucified with Him were dead, He had resigned His spirit. For indeed service is sacrifice throughout, and "the ox strong to labour" is also the chosen victim for the Lord's altar.
Such are some of the details peculiar to this Gospel, and very plainly do they shew that true ministry is no slight "warfare;" (See Numbers 4:23, 30, margin, and compare 1 Tim. 1:18.) that service, "according to the pattern seen on the mount," is something very different from the correct drawing-room Christianity of the present day. And this deep sense of the cross, as the price of service, comes out all through this Gospel. A single word added to what is recorded by the other Evangelists, again and again sets this in the very clearest light. Thus, when the young man comes and asks, "What lack I yet?" in St Matthew the Lord's answer is, "Sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven." St Mark, in recording the same scene, repeats these words, only adding, "And take up thy cross;" (Mark 10:21. Compare Matt. 19:21.) for the Servant, though He has made Himself poor, does not the less feel that herein there is a cross to carry. So again, in the answer of our Lord, when "Peter began to say, Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee," in St Mark alone do we read that with the reward shall come the cross: -- "He shall receive a hundred-fold in this time, ... with persecutions." (Mark 10:30. Compare Matt. 19:29.)
But enough. Blessed be God that such service has been seen on earth; that there has been such a hand, such an eye, and such a heart here, among the sons of men. And blessed be God, that by the same Spirit He waits to mould us to His pattern, yea, that He has predestinated us to be conformed to the image of His beloved Son. And if the Head was content to serve thus; -- if, while He tarried here, He lived to meet the need of all who sought succour; -- if, now risen, He is yet the same, still the loving Worker, interceding within the veil, and working here too for us; -- if He shall yet serve us, "for the less is blessed of the greater," when in the coming kingdom He shall still lead His flock to living fountains, and wipe away their tears; -- shall not we whom He has purchased, in whom He seeks to dwell, who are His witnesses in a world which knows Him not, wait upon Him until His mantle fall on us, and His Spirit, "the oil which was upon the Head," run down even to us also; till we catch the mind of heaven, and are made like unto the angels, children of God and children of resurrection, called to stand in the presence of God, and yet to serve, as ministering spirits to them who shall be heirs of salvation? God is serving, -- "the Father worketh," -- Oh! what works of love, from the rain and fruitful seasons up to the mighty work of raising man from earth to highest heaven; and Christ has served, and is serving; and the Holy Ghost is serving, taking of the things of Christ, to reveal them to us, and then to work them in us; and angels are serving, and saints are serving, and the Church proclaims her call, that she too because redeemed must be a servant here, and that her rulers are but servants, yea, servants of servants; and heaven is serving earth, and earth the creatures on it. So let us, after our Pattern, being redeemed, go forth to serve also. "Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find so doing. Verily, He shall gird Himself, and make them sit down to meat, and He will come forth and serve them." O Lord, Thou canst perform it; perform it to Thy praise; Oh! shew us the glory of Thy service, full of grace and truth, that in its presence we may be changed; and as we have borne the image of the earthy, may even here bear to Thy glory the image of the heavenly. Amen.
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