He was a "bottom-line" writer with no frills or long stories. He provided the essential information to figure out what we need to know, then moved to another facet of Jesus' ministry.
For example, in the first 15 verses of his Gospel, Mark laid out what constituted Jesus's preparation for ministry.
In the prophetic tradition, John the Baptist appeared on the scene, preaching that the people were to prepare for the forthcoming Messiah by repenting of sins and being baptized.
Having a repentant attitude makes us more receptive and eager to hear about what we are to believe about God and what God would have us to do. Baptism symbolized outwardly what was taking place inwardly.
At Jesus's baptism, he received his calling for the ministry God had asked him to do.
In the Old Testament language, Jesus was anointed by none other than God. Therefore, we can conclude that all of God's people are called and set apart by God to do the ministry God has in mind. That fulfills the words of the Apostle Paul: "Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God the Father."
Jesus' next step in preparing for ministry was his 40 days of temptation by Satan in the wilderness. Being truly God and truly human, Jesus could not sin, but he did not know he could not sin: He felt the full force of temptation even as we would have.
God wants us all to accept that given the right circumstances, we can fall victim to the wiles of the devil. No one is exempt.
I am convinced that the devil's top weapon is discouragement.
When lay people first begin to assume an active role by serving on the official board of their congregation, they are tempted again and again to call it quits when members start acting more like the devil than Christ.
The sure, strong fact that the "gospel" is truly good news is what lifts us out of the pits of discouragement and provides us with the perseverance to keep on keeping on in the face of opposition and roadblocks.
Being an involved servant of the Lord takes a lot of courage, patience, steadfastness and faith and belief that it is not all up to one person alone to get his ministry done.
God is in charge, regardless of what members or pastors may think or announce.
Dr. Gene Norris is a Presbyterian pastor.