“This is the course that I have adopted in the case of those brought before me as Christians. I ask them if they are Christians. If they admit it, I repeat the question a second and a third time, threatening capital punishment; if they persist, I sentence them to death. For I do not doubt that, whatever kind of crime it may be to which they have confessed, their pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy should certainly be punished…[those] who denied that they were or had been Christians I considered should be discharged…especially because they cursed Christ, a thing which, it is said, genuine Christians cannot be induced to do.” – Pliny the Younger, appointed governor of Bithynia c. 110 AD, in a letter to the Roman emperor Trajan
Do you ever struggle with confidence? I know I do at times, and I’m sure you do, as well. We all have moments where we doubt what we’re going to do in the future, feel insecure about how we’re perceived by others, or allow worry and anxiety to take control of our lives when it seems that our world is spinning out of control.
If you skim through the book of Mark, you’ll have a fairly accurate idea of Jesus’ personality: concise, witty, humble, wise, and calm. But if you’re paying close attention, you’ll likely notice the calmly authoritative manner in which the Lord carries himself. His rebukes are direct and flawlessly delivered (e.g. Mark 2:27-28). His orders are strict and non-negotiable (e.g. the frequent commands to silence). His teachings are clear and spiritually sound (e.g. Mark 3:28-29). Every miracle he performs inspires awe (e.g. Mark 4:41). And his sense of timing – knowing when something will happen, knowing when to go and leave somewhere, knowing when to speak and remain silent – is impeccable.
The book of Mark is direct and dynamic, action-filled and dialogue-light. Mark begins his book with a flashback to an ancient prophecy by Isaiah, then transports us to a barren wilderness where John the Baptist preaches the powerful message of repentance. Immediately after, Jesus appears. Not once is there a reference to Jesus’ birth or genealogy.
Why is this? Because Mark’s primary focus is on Jesus as a servant. A servant is lowly. A servant requires no royal introduction, no grand entrance, and no detailed record of ancestry. A servant’s words are often unrecorded, though his deeds may be remembered.
This article (and much of what you will read in the future from Against Doubt) was carefully pre-written long before you’re seeing it. It has already been polished, proofread, and put on an auto-timer to release by itself. At this moment, the future me is probably scrambling around on my college campus trying to finish work.