Sam Lam- DBS, Teacher Intensive
What do the various incidents in Mark's Gospel that feature Peter, reveal about the person and work of Jesus?
The gospel of Mark is a concise, short collection of who the person Jesus Christ is and the things that he did. The gospel of Mark is also a gospel that is different to the other synoptic gospels when we examine the structure of its narrative and especially the length spends on describing the works of Jesus. Another special feature of the book of Mark is that it heavily features the involvement of Simon Peter, on of the earliest disciples Jesus recruited.
When we look at the book's structure we would have notice the first ten chapters were spend describing the works of Jesus; and how he revealed himself to the people around him especially to the Jews, Pharisees and Sadducee. In these ten chapters Jesus also had tried to explain who he is to his twelve disciples by a series of miracles, teaching and divine revelations. What then is the next six chapters were spend describing only who Jesus himself really is by a series of revelations through his death and resurrection and confirmation of the Old Testament. It is unusual because rarely in the bible a single book will dedicate chapters after chapters narrating something that only has a duration of a few days whereas the first ten chapters noted the years he spent before he enter Jerusalem.
Simon, who was feature frequently in this gospel and who also got his name changed to Peter by Jesus, his frequent appearance in Jesus' life was captured by the author of this book to illustrate the true identity and works of Jesus Christ himself; and through the book of Mark, the presence of Peter could help demonstrate a few aspects of who Jesus is and what he does.
Through Peter's encounter, the book of Mark can then be sub-divide into many other different categories if desire to the point of exhaustion to illustrate who Jesus really is and what was he really doing. Take the example of Mark 1:29 where he did his first miracle after calling Peter as his follower, the healing of Peter's mother-in-law may be is just an act of healing or miracle, but later on in the book when Jesus defends his fellowship with the unclean Mark quoted him saying:
"It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." (Mark 2:17, Matthew 9:12)
This simple respond from Jesus outlined the whole purpose or the reason behind his healing, which his aim is not to heal people physically, but to heal them spiritually (since the healing is done when there is enough trust towards Jesus' ability and identity) so they could be declare righteous in front of God which this prove to be his sole purpose for becoming a man as the chapters later unfolded.
What Jesus does not only show his purpose of existence as a true human, but his work also tells us who he really is and the power that he possesses. In Mark 3:13 when he appointed the twelve apostles, he gave them the authority so that they could preach the news of the kingdom, such an act not only illustrates Jesus' single mindedness towards his goal of spreading the gospel, but it also demonstrates who Jesus really is in term of authority that is disposable in his own leisure. Further proof of his identity can be found in the book of Matthew 8:23-27 when Jesus showcased his authority to his disciples by commanding the wind and the sea to calm and the fact that his command cascaded to an immediate calming of the subjects again shown that his authority is beyond human's capacity and measure.
In the chapters between Mark's chapters five to chapter ten just before Jesus has entered the city of Jerusalem, Jesus time and time again demonstrated his power and authority in front of Peter and the other disciples to show them who he really is and what must be done by healing the sick, the weak, the demon possessed, the unclean and even the dead; it is interesting to note that most if not all of these miracles were done in the light of faith and trust that Jesus is the saviour and the one who hold great authority over mankind as one woman anointed and therefore acknowledged him as the King of the people of Israel.
Although many recognised Jesus' intentions and goal, none could be more explicit in the Book of Mark than Peter (other than Jesus himself) who openly proclaimed Jesus is the Christ (Mark 8:33) the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). Yet, when Peter recognised Jesus' true identity, he didn't understand the idea of being a saviour would cost as the very next verse he got rebuked by Jesus description him as a man pleaser not God pleaser. Truly none of the Jewish people could have imagined Jesus would be hung on a cross because through the old testament writings everyone including King David was expecting a King that would deliver them out of their enemies, they are expecting an Earthly king, despite Jesus has been showing them what kind of King he is especially to Peter at that time.
The final six chapters of Mark is written not to show the downfall of Jesus, but a grand finale to who he really is, because these chapters not only give an account to what had happened, it also give a degree of legitimacy to Jesus' Christhood for these chapters slowly revealed to us that as Jesus is closing his distance to the cross, he is one step closer to fulfilling the promise from the old testament as he conquer death and bring his people out of the suffering of death and hell as he promised a revolution in grand scale (Mark13:2).
It is the very same reason why he continuously asked his disciples to have faith and believe what Jesus said about himself- To die on a cross and rise up after three days. This message is especially to Peter when Jesus cursed the fig tree, plus James and John in the Garden of Gethsemane. Sadly none of them fully understood for their "spirit is willing but their body is weak", and their bodies grew even weaker when Jesus fulfilled the OT prophecy in Zech 13:7 about Peter's denial until the day when they finally saw Jesus ascended into haven.
The life and work of Jesus; who he is and what he does, can only be explain not intellectually like the Jewish of those day wanted to, but believe and put our faith to Jesus as the book of Mark emphasised; because he has died on the cross that was reserved for us.
- Synoptic Gospel, New International Version (NIV) Bible (International Bible Society, 1978)