Saint Mark’s Gospel is by far the shortest of the four. You can read it before you’ve finished your morning coffee. Its overall brevity is matched by the brevity of his style: Short, terse, to the point. Tradition has long claimed it to be the second Gospel to be written, shortly after Matthew, but there is strong evidence that it was actually the first, and that Matthew and Luke both drew from it. Mark was secretary to St. Peter after Peter had translated to Rome from Antioch, and it is believed that Mark’s Gospel is more or less a direct dictation from St. Peter, which would make sense. Peter relates the scene where Christ calls him Satan in Chapter 8. I suppose it was seared in his memory.
The most prominent theme in Mark is suffering and death, that of Jesus, and that of our own. The entire second half is a march to Golgotha. The need for suffering, and how it needs to be used as a tool to overcome sin and death. You can’t be a Christian without the Cross. The more suffering that is offered to you, the more grace is also offered, such that you might work these things and ultimately merit salvation through the victory of Christ’s death and Resurrection.
If you want a little side project, there has been some excitement in recent years over a very early fragment of the first chapter of Mark, called Papyrus 137. Possibly 1st Century. Check it out.
And give Mark a try over that cup of coffee.
And calling the multitude together with his disciples, he said to them: If any man will follow me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life, shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel, shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? -Mark 8:34-36