Though it’s been debated over the centuries, the Gospel of Mark was probably the first Gospel to be written. Mark was believed to be a disciple of St. Peter –as everything he writes seems to come from the perspective of the first pontiff, and his words about the fisherman are sometimes quite harsh (as if Peter was being hard on himself). Most likely, this Gospel was written sometime between 64 – 70 AD.
This was only about 30 years after the Resurrection. Persecution was still fierce… but that didn’t seem to scare Mark. The opening line of his Gospel proves this. Mark writes:
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
To modern day readers, this may not seem like an “in-your-face” thing to say, but for ancient readers who lived during this time, they understood the mockery that Mark was making of the Roman Empire.
Remember- Ceasar was believed to be a god. Thus anytime he was publicly announced, the “broadcaster” would loudly proclaim, “Caesar Augustus, the son of god!” With the opening line of the very first Gospel to be written, Mark boldly indicated that Caesar had no real power…
…but this carpenter from Nazareth did.
The Cross– another mockery…
Similarly, the Romans used crucifixion to control their subjects. It was the most gruesome way in which anyone could die. Individuals were always crucified on busy roads outside the city walls as a warning to any visitors that they must behave…
After the Resurrection, followers of Christ began to see the cross not as something to be feared, but as a symbol of triumph. Christ had conquered death itself — but also that specific type of death. If crucifixion was the absolute worst thing that the Romans could do to a person, and Christ had overcome it — than the Romans truly had no power over the Christians.
Thus, the cross became their official symbol, as a reminder of this truth for themselves, but also as a sort of holy taunt and proclamation of their courage. It was a very bold and “in-your-face” statement that basically said to the Romans: “you can’t stop us.”
…how’s that for a humdinger?