Mark’s Gospel is sixteen chapters long, so today’s passage, from the end of Chapter Eight, comes right in the middle of his Gospel. It divides his Gospel into two equal halves.
St. Luke and St. John clearly stated their purposes for writing Gospels. In the first paragraph of his Gospel Luke wrote that he was writing to assure us that
the stories were heard about Jesus really happened that way. In the last paragraph in his Gospel St. John said he wrote to assure us Jesus was the Messiah, and that by believing in him we can have life.
Every day up till lent this year we are following Mark’s Gospel in which he never made a clear statement of his purpose in writing. But from carefully reading his Gospel we can guess that Mark wrote to disprove an objection people were making to Jesus.
People must have been saying that Jesus could not be the Savior, since he suffered a criminal’s death. In the first half of his Gospel Mark recounted the miracles and the fulfillment of prophecies that proved Jesus to be the Savior. In the second half of his Gospel Mark showed how it was precisely by his suffering that Jesus saves us.
If we picture Mark’s Gospel as a book open right at the middle we see that the first part ended with Peter, speaking for everyone, insists that Jesus is the Savior. With that point firmly established, in the very next verse Jesus launched into the second half of this Gospel by telling us it will be by his suffering that he will save us.