Series - Trinity Gospel of Mark

The Curious Case of Jesus and the Leper

The account of Jesus healing the leper appears in all three synoptic Gospels. It is a famous story. At first glance, it seems to have some bearing on Jesus’ divinity and, by extension, on the doctrine of the Trinity. It is particularly fascinating to see Mark’s account in parallel with Matthew and Luke.1 Here is the first portion of the story:

Did the Leper Worship Jesus as God?

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Jesus' Very Busy Day

Synagogue in Capernaum

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By anybody’s standard, Jesus had a very busy day (Mk 1:21-38). This passage chronicles one single day during Jesus’ early ministry. At first glance, there seems to be nothing earth-shattering here, until you step back and consider all He did during those 24 hours.1 

Consider the common objections to the doctrine of the Trinity, then remember the kind of day Jesus had:

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Jesus, Satan, Demons and the Trinity

"The Temptation of Christ," by Sandro Botticelli (Sistine Chapel)

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The Christ has been commissioned and anointed with power from the Spirit. His ministry has begun. Immediately, He enters into single combat with His own creation, the chief of all angels, Satan. As His ministry begins, we’ll examine two passages which shed light on Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity.

Jesus and Satan in the Wilderness (Mark 1:12-13)

The Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, enduring temptations from Satan. He was with wild animals, and angels were ministering to his needs (Mark 1:12-13).

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Messiah's Baptism & the Trinity

"Baptism of Christ" by Pietro Perugino (c. 1482)

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Jesus’ baptism has nothing to do with the Trinity. It is a lie. At least, this is what the United Pentecostal Church International believes and teaches. No, what really happened was that God, being omnipresent, spoke from heaven to His incarnate self, about Himself, while sending another manifestation of Himself in the form of the Spirit to descend upon the other manifestation of His incarnate self as He came up out of the Jordan River.1 He can do this, because He’s God. Simple.

Not.

Jesus’ baptism is a watershed passage for the doctrine of the Trinity. It is a mountain peak which undergirds and supports the less explicit points of Trinitarian theology this series has made so far. As one commentator noted, “An implicit divine Christology runs throughout this gospel.”2 Indeed; but here John Mark was led by the Spirit to drop the implicit hints and speak plainly. This is a marvelous passage, a glittering diamond in an already packed jewelry box, and you will be blessed by studying it.

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God's Highway & the Trinity (Mark 1:3)

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God can speak about Himself, yet actually be referring to His eternal Son, Jesus. This speaks to both a oneness between Divine Persons and a clear distinction. Oneness, because one can refer to the other as Himself. Distinction, because, when this is worked out in the pages of Scripture, each Person is clearly differentiated from the another.

This is the case in our passage today—Mark 1:3. John Mark is continuing right along, explaining that the beginning of the Gospel about Jesus Christ came about just as it has been written by the prophets (Mk 1:1). How so, Mark? Three reasons:

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God's Messenger & the Trinity

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We continue our journey through the Gospel of Mark, mining for gold on Jesus and the doctrine of the Trinity along the way. Here is our text:

As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. (Mark1:2)

As what was written in the prophets?1 Mark is explaining that the beginning of the Good News of Jesus, Messiah, the Son of God came about … just as2 it is written in the prophets. The prophets foretold the Messiah would come. The prophets also foretold Messiah would be the Son of God. Now, Mark quotes a few passages rapid-fire to get this point across. This is a composite verse; it’s made up of two different quotations.

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The Son of God & the Trinity

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How can we be sure that, when John Mark gave Jesus the title “Son of God” (υἱοῦ θεοῦ), he meant that Jesus shared God’s intrinsic nature, makeup, and fundamental characteristics? What Scripture passages could we turn to which explain a bit more about “the Son,” so we can be certain we haven’t wandered off the theological reservation?

There are many passages we could turn to, of course; but one in particular stands out.1 We’ll briefly examine this passage and consider what it tells us about the doctrine of the Trinity.

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What Does "Son of God" Mean?

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The New Testament is saturated with the title “Son of God.” So are our church documents, such as confessions, creeds and statements of faith. The church I used to Pastor, for example, had a statement of faith which read, “we believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man.”

Christians from more Reformed backgrounds do not use “statements of faith”; they are explicitly confessional. Thus, we have the Second London Confession (1677) which affirms that “it pleased God in his eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus his only begotten Son.”1

As we journey further back in time, the Apostle’s Creed, for example, reads, “I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.” Notice the creed does not explain the title; it simply states as a matter of fact that Jesus is God’s “only Son.” The Nicene-Constantinople Creed does the same thing. “Also, we believe in one Lord; Jesus, Messiah, the unique Son of God.”2 The phrase here is τὸν uἱὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ τὸν μονογενῆ; a phrase many Christians know better as “the only-begotten Son of God.”

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