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4 Gifts from the Gospel of Mark We Desperately Need This Christmas

  • Kathy Howard Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • 2020 1 Dec
Cross with red cloth on it

Every Christmas Eve when I was a girl, my father sat with his big black Bible on his lap and read the biblical account of that first Christmas from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. I can still hear those familiar words in my Dad’s sweet voice. He read Matthew’s record of the angel’s visit to Joseph and the journey of the wise men from the east. And from Luke he recounted Gabriel’s amazing message for Mary, the birth of our Savior, and the startling announcement to shepherds in a field outside of Bethlehem.

Together, Matthew and Luke weave a dramatic story. They describe the humble, but glorious beginnings of our incarnate Savior. They package the sights and sounds and feelings of Jesus’ birth and hold them forth as gifts for us to unwrap and savor again and again.

Although not the typical “go-to” Gospel for the Christmas story, Mark offers several unique gifts of Christmas we will treasure. Let’s unwrap them together. (If you’d like to learn even more about the Gospel of Mark, check out Deep Rooted: Growing through the Gospel of Mark.)

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star over stable christmas

1. Good News (Gospel)

The opening sentence of Mark reflects the heart of the Christmas story. “This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). Like the angels announced the good news of Christ’s birth to the shepherds outside Bethlehem, Mark’s Gospel announces the good news of Jesus’ arrival and testifies to the eternal salvation Jesus gives.

And this is that most excellent news: Christ died for our sins; He was buried, and rose again on the third day defeating sin, death, and the grave; and all who receive this gift will experience new life in Him.

Mark’s first century readers needed some good news. And we sure need some today. Most days bad news is all we hear. Stories of death, disaster, and deceit flow from every corner of the globe. Bad news often dominates our own lives too. Loss, grief, illness, financial difficulties, relationship struggles, and more weigh heavy on our hearts and minds.

Yes, bad news still makes headlines. But for those who belong to Jesus, His gospel decidedly trumps any bad news the world can deliver. Have you ever received the good news of Jesus’ eternal salvation? The gospel of Christ. Life conquers death. Hope pushes out despair. Joy overwhelms grief. Truly the best news ever. (See “How to Know Jesus.”)

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2. Sense of Urgency

In many ways this Christmas season, our lives may be on hold. We spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for health. Waiting to work. Waiting for a change in our circumstances. It’s easy to let those feelings of stagnation from the things we can’t control flow into every area of our lives. But Jesus set an example of purposeful activity.

Although the shortest Gospel, Mark is also the most action-packed. This Gospel writer used the adverb “immediately” 42 times to emphasize that Jesus lived with a sense of urgency. Each event flows quickly into the next showing that Jesus never lagged in fulfilling the Father’s purposes for Him. Jesus knew His time on earth was limited and He did not want to waste a single moment God had given Him.

God still has good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). When life’s been put on hold, we can find a renewed sense of purpose by joining Jesus in His mission to share salvation with the world. Let’s not waste another minute. Catch Jesus’ sense of urgency and make the best use of the time and resources God has given us. People need the gospel and they need it now.

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3. Power & Authority

Perhaps this Christmas you feel a bit powerless. The Gospel of Mark gives us an acute awareness of Jesus’ power and authority by recording more miracles than any of the other Gospels. My favorite story is recorded in the 5th chapter of Mark.

The story reads like a scene from a scary movie. It was a dark and stormy night… It really was. Jesus and His disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee in a storm and arrived in a Gentile region on the eastern shore well after dark, near a cemetery.

A desperate individual with a battle raging inside ran to meet Jesus. This man lived among the tombs, isolated from other humans, but he wasn’t alone. Thousands of demons resided in this man. He roamed constantly, crying out and cutting himself with stones. Multiple times the townspeople had attempted to control the man. But he tore the chains like paper and broke the shackles like clay jars. His situation was hopeless. Impossible.

Then Jesus landed on the beach. And the impossible became possible. Even though there is power in numbers, this horde of demons was no match for the power of the divine. Jesus commanded the demons to flee and freed the man from his prison.

Perhaps you’ve been living with your own version of impossible. Maybe you’ve even given up hope that healing, mending, wholeness will ever happen. When you feel powerless, rather than wishing for a specific outcome, put your trust in our all-powerful Savior. He may have a better gift for you than you could ever imagine.

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4. Compassion

This year, many of us have felt isolated, cut off from friends, family, and co-workers. We desperately need connection. Once again, the Gospel of Mark holds out the gift we need—our friend Jesus, beautifully wrapped in love and compassion.

Mark’s Gospel repeatedly shines a spotlight on the strong, but tender hand of Jesus. Ten times Mark specifically relates that Jesus touched those who came to Him. A touch to heal. A touch to welcome. A touch to comfort.

Jesus gathered the children, those the disciples tried to shoo away. “And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them” (Mark 10:16). Jesus touched the leper, an outcast no one else dared to touch. “Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him...” (Mark 1:41, ESV). And Jesus grasped the hand of a lifeless girl to restore her to her family (Mark 5:41-42). The tender touch of our compassionate Savior is a precious gift. Reach out and take His loving hand today.

Don’t miss these gifts from the Gospel of Mark this Christmas. Unwrap them. Savor them. Root yourself deeply in God’s wonderful truths and stand on them in the year ahead.

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A former “cultural Christian,” Kathy Howard now has a passion for God’s Word that’s contagious. With more than 30 years of experience, Kathy has taught in dozens of states, internationally, and in a wide range of venues including multi-church conferences and large online events. She has a MRE from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. Kathy is the author of 8 books, including Lavish Grace, and writes for multiple online magazines and devotional sites. Kathy and her husband live in the Dallas/Ft Worth area near family. They have three married children, five grandchildren, and two accidental dogs. Kathy provides free discipleship resources and blogs regularly at www.KathyHoward.org. She also connects with women at FacebookPinterest, and Instagram.



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