The English word immediately jumps off the page in the Gospel of Mark. It is used at least 35 times in Mark, close to half the occurrences of the word in the entire New Testament. With so many events happening “immediately” in Mark, the Gospel takes on an urgent tone. Through the eyes of John Mark, Bible readers get a quick-paced, action-packed view of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry.
In Mark’s Gospel, Peter and Andrew “immediately” leave their nets to follow the Lord (Mark 1:18, ESV). In Capernaum, Jesus “immediately” goes to the synagogue on the Sabbath to teach (Mark 1:21, ESV). When Jesus takes Jairus’s dead daughter by the hand and says, “Little girl, . . . get up,” the child “immediately” stands up and begins to walk around (Mark 5:41–42).
The word translated as “immediately” (eutheōs in Greek) means “without delay or hesitation; with no time intervening; soon; directly.” It is sometimes rendered “straight away,” “suddenly,” and “at once.” Almost everything in Mark happens in dramatic, rapid-fire succession, emphasizing what Jesus did more than His teaching. Mark wastes no time with lengthy introductions: “This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1, NLT). He jumps right in, telling his primarily Roman (Gentile) audience that he has life-changing, world-altering news to share about Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of humanity.
Mark then quotes two Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1) to prove that this moment of Christ’s coming had been predicted long ago: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way—a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him’” (Mark 1:2–3). In the original text, the word for “straight” here is euthys (closely related to eutheōs); it means “free from curves or angles, level, smooth, or direct.”
This figure of speech make straight paths was associated in the ancient world with the custom of preparing a road or highway for a visiting king and his entourage. The path had to be made as level and direct as possible so that the royal’s journey would be smooth and swift. John the Baptist was the messenger sent to prepare the way and make level paths for the King’s imminent arrival (Mark 1:4–8). Right out of the gate, Mark develops a sense of urgency to his message. Readers need to get ready, for their King is coming.
Mark’s repeated use of immediately heightens the pressing insistency. With each repetition of the word, the critical nature of Christ’s mission is reinforced: “The time has come,” declared Jesus. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). The nearness of God’s kingdom creates a need for people to respond decisively (2 Corinthians 6:2; Hebrews 3:13–15).
As a literary technique, Mark also includes the word immediately to signal the importance of an event. Mark swiftly ushers his readers from one powerful work of Christ to another. More than half of the Lord’s recorded miracles are in the Gospel of Mark, revealing Jesus as the ultimate Servant of action and fulfillment.
The message of Mark’s Gospel is presented more through Christ’s compelling actions than His words, taking readers immediately from one event to the next. Mark is likely the first or earliest of the Gospels to be written. It is also the shortest of the Gospels. Perhaps it was the author John Mark’s personal sense of urgency, as reflected in his style and tone, that compelled him to preserve the record without delay or hesitation. His purpose was to show us who Jesus Christ is as a person—the Savior of the world. And he illustrates that we must respond to Christ immediately.