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Mark's theme, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ" (1.1), extends from the river Jordan (1.4-11) to the open tomb in Jerusalem (16.1-8). In home (1.29-34) and synagogue (3.1-6) and to seaside crowds (3.7-11), by word and deed, Jesus proclaims divine forgiveness (2.5) and redemption (10.45), sealed by him on Good Friday (chapter 15) and Easter morn (chapter 16). The Son of man (2.10) celebrates at table with the needy (2.15-17). The Son of God (1.11), as the joyful Bridegroom, forms a new family of faith, united to him (2.19-20; 3:31-35). Essentially, as sagacious Teacher (chapter 4) and compassionate Healer (chapter 5), Jesus announces the in-breaking of God's kingdom (1.15; cf. 6.34-44 and 8.1-9). A beginning, however, implies continuity. By commitment and example, Jesus trains disciples-then and now-to evangelize and teach (3.13-15; 13.10) until he returns (8.38). A serious encounter with Mark's gospel can thereby transform believers today into overseas or home evangelists (see 5.18-20). The continuity, for certain, depends on a thorough grounding in the beginning. Herein lies the excitement in Mark's message and the raison d'etre of my treatment of Mark.
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