What does the Bible really say?
Are the preachers and commentators always right?
We must never stop rethinking what we think we know already.
The book of revelation shows four mysterious living creatures before the throne in heaven.
“…the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. Revelation 4:7 (ESV) .”
(See also Ezekiel 1:10)
For nearly two thousand years, bible teachers have told us how Matthew was the story of Jesus the Lion King; Luke was the story of Jesus the perfect spiritual man; John presented Jesus as the eternal Son of God, like the majestic prophetic eagle descending to earth and returning again to His throne above the clouds; Mark presented Jesus as the humble suffering servant, like the ox which faithfully serves and then is killed as the perfect sacrifice.
Matthew wrote for Jews who were expecting a Messiah King.
Messiah would conquer the nations like David of old and rule the world according to the End-Time prophecies which are still unfulfilled. I believe Jesus will come again and fulfil every prophecy when He rules and reigns from Jerusalem for 1000 years, leading up to the last judgement and then the perfect eternal New Heaven and New Earth.
Matthew’s Gospel shows how Jesus fulfilled many Old Testament prophecies and established His credentials as the Messiah King by suffering, dying and rising from death.
Luke shows how Jesus lived as the perfect man of faith filled with the Holy Spirit and power.
This introduces us to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Luke’s second book, the Acts, in which we get to walk in the same power of the same Holy Spirit who filled Jesus on earth.
John shows us Jesus as the eternal Word who created all things. In John, Jesus declares who He is and how we can have eternal life through Him. Jesus is God who became man for us.
…“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 (ESV)
…“Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58 (ESV)
…“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…” John 11:25-26 (ESV)
In Mark, Jesus is indeed the servant who suffers and dies like an ox slaughtered on the altar in Jerusalem.
Mark is a short book with only 16 chapters. From chapter 12 to 15, we see no miracles, only the journey to the cross and the death and burial of Jesus as the perfect sacrifice.
But what of the rest of Mark’s Gospel? Here I must seriously challenge traditional teaching.
In Chapter 1, Jesus appears casting out demons. In Mark Chapters one to three and chapters five to ten, we see Jesus like an Imperial Roman general conducting a brutal military campaign against his enemies, the spirits of darkness. We see little teaching in words but repeated supernatural confrontations with the forces of darkness, casting out demons, healing the sick and working miracle after miracle.
Jesus was demonstrating in action the kind of Christianity which He called us to practise in Chapter 16 after His miraculous resurrection.
…“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; …they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:15-18 (ESV)
This is so controversial that many Bible scholars want to leave it out of the Bible. I believe this is nothing but intellectual unbelief. I believe this unbelief was already evident in scholars producing manuscripts 300 years after Jesus rose from the grave.
However, without this ending, Mark’s Gospel is an incomplete fragment, like a story with no proper conclusion.
For a scholarly discussion, see the following web page:
Jesus always stood by the absolute authority and infallible truth of the scriptures but He was always challenging the way people understood these scriptures. We must do the same.
It is easy for us Pentecostals to criticise the religious traditions of other churches but if Jesus of Nazareth was with us in the flesh today, He would also challenge our Pentecostal traditions and practises.