As the earliest and shortest and most immediate of the four canonical gospels, Mark is the one for the texting and tweeting crowd!
Although all known manuscripts carry the heading The Gospel According to Mark, it's probably not by Peter's ministry companion John Mark, but from an unknown author (or group thereof).
Prior to Mark, good news or "gospel" was the returning Roman general's announcement of annihilating the other army's troops. This gospel according to Mark subverts that into the Good News of God's victory over the powers of sin and death, the triumph of the reign of life.
Probably written from Rome to Greek speaking gentile Christians, maybe as early as 45 C.E., almost definitely no later than 60 C.E..
Between them, Matthew and Luke include 631 of Mark's 661 verses. We find about 90% in Matthew; 50% in Luke. A year ago we talked about a possible source called Q for the first letter of the German Quelle meaning source or river. Was there a Q? Not known. Was Mark Q? Probably not.
No birth narrative; no resurrection account.
Mark doesn't mention Joseph, Jesus' earthly father.
Mark includes a lot of miracles, healings, and exorcisms.
Mark famously features the Messianic secret – Jesus' don't tell anyone!
Just as in Matthew and Luke, Mark's Jesus loves to refer to himself as "Son of Man" – the Human One. Daniel, Ezekiel, Enoch.
After his baptism followed by 40 days in the wilderness (also in Matthew and Luke), Jesus calls disciples Simon, Andrew, James, and John; then his first act of public ministry is casting out a demon in the midst of a synagogue service.
Just as for Luke, in Mark's gospel the journey to Jerusalem and the cross is intentional and incessant.
Mark particularly brings us God coming near to humanity and to all creation. Think of how central the Jerusalem temple was to economic, political, and religious life. God no longer is far away, behind the clouds, ensconced, contained, and protected in the temple. But then again, all the gospel accounts are about God-with-us, God-among-us, God-for-us...
Where do we look for God? Where do we find God?
Not in the temple – but on the cross
Not in established religious, economic, political institutions – but outside the city limits, in the wilderness. In the stranger and outcast. In, with, and under all creation.
In the mainline church and in mainstream society? Can we answer that question?