The fast-paced vitality of Mark's narrative of Jesus wins the hearts of modern readers on its own terms. (No small achievement for a Greco-Roman biography of an ancient sage.) And like any great story, it unveils its meaning to those who listen attentively, who inquire patiently and who brood on its meaning and significance.
Donald English has lived with Mark's story for a long time. He has now written a wise, welcoming and nontechnical guide to the narrative and the message of this smallest of the four Gospels. Whether gazing over the Evangelist's shoulder, or taking the actor's stance or adopting the audience's perspective, he writes as one who loves and understands the story. And he writes as one who has a passion to help others appreciate Mark's portrait of Jesus—Son of Man and Son of God.
“The point, which Mark draws us to again and again throughout the gospel, is the need for the risky commitment of faith, which most people we meet in the gospel story do not make.” (Page 189)
“This may be the main reason why this gospel was written, to help people to see that true faith does not save one from hard times and difficult experiences, as many may have hoped. True faith often leads one into hard times and difficult experiences. The glory of faith in Christ is that we are not saved from them but in them. Chapter 13 certainly makes that clear.” (Page 205)
“Mark is pointing us to a double thrust in his message. It is about who Jesus is. It is also about how people should respond to Jesus. These two themes run right through the Gospel of Mark. They form the basic materials for the telling of the story of Jesus.” (Page 16)
“Their sin is that, in the presence of God’s grace in action, they have not only rejected it but ascribed it to the devil. This is their fixed position. No wonder they will not find forgiveness.” (Page 89)
“For true faith is self-risking trust in Jesus himself.” (Page 117)
The late Donald English was general secretary of the Division of Home Mission for the Methodist Church in England and chairman of the World Methodist Executive Committee. A well-known speaker, he was twice president of the Methodist Conference in England.