Mark introduces a thematic connection between the first Adam and the Second Adam. The ministry of Jesus Christ is presented as a reversal of the catastrophic ministry of the first Adam.

Adam, paradise, and blessing

Before sin, paradise was a sanctuary, a temple-garden.

As king, Adam guarded (shamar) the garden. In the Pentateuch, his term describes the guarding of the holiness of God’s sanctuary against profanation.

Adam served the Lord as priest by his ‘work’ and his ‘care’ (Gen 2:15). In the Books of Moses, this word pair always points to the framework of the Levitical priesthood.

As prophet Adam, proclaimed the Lordship of God over all creation.

Adam’s world would move forward to consummation when time and space of this dispensation would become eternity. In Meredith Kiline’s word: “During this preconsummation (sic) earthly history the weekly Sabbath sign would point the way … and man would enter with joy into the eternal seventh day of the Creator’s Sabbath.” The institution of the Sabbath rest in paradise pointed forward to the eternal rest of the consummation. If Adam fulfilled the demands of the covenant of works, there was the promise of life beyond this world. 

There was the threat of death if Adam did not fulfil his obligations under the covenant of works. To cite Louis Berkhof: “For Adam, under the covenant of works (before he fell in sin), heaven was a place he had to earn.”

At the tree of knowledge, Adam had to exercise prophetic and royal discernment between right and wrong in the light of God’s covenant. 

He failed in his mission, and forfeited his position as kingpriest, and prophet.

This tragic background takes us to the introduction of Mark’s Gospel.

Christ, the second Adam

The Gospel of Mark introduces Jesus as “Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1). ‘Jesus’ is his name—Saviour (Mt 1:21), ‘Christ’ is his title and office—the Messiah, and ‘Son of God’ describes his deity. He is king, prophet and priest.

The second Adam introduced a new creation. Like at the beginning (Gen 2:7), the Holy Spirit was at work; He came upon Mary and she conceived (Lk 2:35) and He announced Christ as the Son of God (Mk 1:11). Mark’s Good News is about the Second Adam!

Christ and the Sabbath

Did Christ as the Second Adam still need to meet the stipulations of the covenant of works? The fulfilment of the probation under the covenant of works would give Adam entitlement to the eternal Sabbath rest. Christ’s meritorious obedience in this regard forms the basis for the grace He bestows on helpless sinners who could not meet the requirements of the covenant of works (Rom 5:18-19).

The priestly ministry of Christ as Head of the Covenant representative is for all who believe in Him. Because of His righteousness, they receive forgiveness of sin, new life in the Holy Spirit, and entrance to the eternal Sabbath rest.

His ministry met the priestly conditions of the covenant of works, as He took upon him the punishment of Adam’s children who failed the Law. The Second Adam became their righteousness before God.

Mark confirms the authority and mission of Christ as the Son of God. He is the promised Messiah (Mk 1:2-8, Mal 3:1). John proclaims, “I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1:7–8). 

Christ is God’s last prophet. He withstood the temptations of Satan (Mk1:12-13) by the power of God’s Word. He declared that the kingdom of God has come near (1:14-15), His mission was to preach the good news (1:38).

Christ is God’s last king: He came to destroy the evil spirits “as one with authority” (1:21-27). To Him “belongs all authority on heaven and on earth” (Mt 28:18). He exercises his Deity by forgiving sin (2:10-12).

Christ secured the eternal Sabbath rest

Christ declares, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-8). 

Matthew, before he recorded the same event in 12:1-8, introduced the theme of ‘rest’ in chapter 11:28-30. Jesus is greater than the temple, Jonah, or Solomon (Mt 12;6, 41-42). The law and the prophets were indeed fulfilled in Christ!

Jesus was undeniably the expected Messiah, the Son of God and the Son of man. He came to give meaning to the Sabbath as God had intended; He would because He is Lord of the Sabbath. His mediatorial work not only brought restoration, but also renewal – the Lord’s Day after his resurrection is therefore greater than the Sabbath of the old covenant. He came to give full meaning to the Sabbath. 

He gives rest (Mt 11:27-28), and every Lord’s Day proclaims his Lordship over sin and death. Every Christian Sabbath is a day of forward-celebration of the eternal Sabbath (Heb 4:9-10)! This was God’s original design!

Thus, by celebrating the weekly Sabbath (the Lord’s Day), the church 

* thanks the God of the covenant;

* glorifies the ministry of the Holy Spirit who gave them the right to be called children of God;

*worships the Son who freed them from the condemnation of sin because He crushed the head of the serpent.

If a non-believer asks why Christians assemble together for worship, we might  answer: “Well, I have to; it’s a command in the Bible.” Such a reply is enough to scare anyone away!

The answer can be something like this: 

“God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to take my sin on Him, and made me a child of God. I believe the Bible message with all my heart, that’s why I worship God with other Christians. He designated a special day of rest to enjoy Him and have a foretaste of our eternal rest. Why don’t you go with me to worship Him?”

Christ declared Himself as Lord of the Sabbath, not the substitute for it. He made us a kingdom of priests (Exo 19:6, Rev 1:6, 1Pet 2:9). It is the duty of his church to protect, guard (‘shamar’) the holiness of the Lord’s Day against profanation (Dt 5:11). We need to pay attention to the fact (‘zakar) that God made it a special day (Ex 20:8).