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Mark Overview

Two main sets of OT prophecies about the Messiah:

He will be the Conquering King (Isaiah 9:6-7)

He will be the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53)

Mark is the 2nd book of the 4 gospels and 27 books of the New Testament, the 41st book of the Bible.

What do the two beginnings of Matthew and Mark tell us about their audience?

The historical record of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.               -Matthew 1:1

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.                                    -Mark 1:1

Matthew more likely focused on convincing Jews that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah, the focus of Old Testament promises and prophecies; Mark more likely focused on convincing Romans that Jesus is the true Son of God, not their Caesars who were want to refer to themselves as gods on earth.

His full name was John Mark. He was the cousin of Barnabas – Colossians 4:10. He was close with Peter, who called him his “son” in I Peter 5:13.

He probably is the boy who ran naked in Mark 14:51-52. It is believed that Jesus had stayed at his house.

He was the subject of sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas – Acts 15:37-40. Then he travelled with Barnabas. He later ministered with Paul again.   -See Philemon 24, 2 Timothy 4:11.

Mark’s gospel is thought to be Peter’s account of the events of Jesus Christ. I Peter 5:13 tells us they were co-laborers.

Two early church fathers, Papios and Irenaeus, called Mark “the interpreter of Peter.”

John was his Hebrew name; Marcus was his Roman name!

The fact we call it the gospel of Mark is another indication of who it’s first audience was. Mark alone uses some Latin terms (4:21; 6:27, 42, etc.); Latin was the language of the Romans.

Simon of Cyrene is mentioned as the father of Rufus in Mark 15:21; Rufus was later a member of the church at Rome (Romans 16:13).

This gospel was probably written in the 60’s, as Roman persecution of Christians was ramping up (Nero killed Peter in 64 A.D.). 

Mark contains fast paced action! The key word “Immediately” occurs 42 times in the book!               -Straightway in the King James Version!

18 of Jesus’ 36 miracles recorded in the gospel are in this book.

Outline of Mark’s Gospel:

Jesus’ ministry before His arrest (to serve)                                            Ch. 1-10

Jesus’ Passion Week, Death and Resurrection (to sacrifice)                   Ch. 11-16

Mark 10:45 is the theme verse for the gospel:

Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.                 -Mark 10:45

Mark’s gospel does a great job reinforcing the Messiah as suffering servant!

Sometimes the Ox is used to represent what Mark’s gospel is trying to communicate about Jesus as a servant. For Matthew it’s a Lion (King); for Luke it’s a Man (humanity); for John it’s an Eagle (deity).

A closer look at Mark:

Chapter 1

John the Baptist came in fulfillment of prophecy preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The One coming will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!

The baptism of Jesus; The temptation of Jesus                           

Mark’s brevity (5 verses for those two things in Mark; 16 in Matthew; 16 in Luke)

Jesus’ ministry in Galilee preaching the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Jesus calls his first disciples: “Follow Me, and I will make you fish for people!” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him!

1:21-22        What here is consistent with Matthew’s gospel?                                                        The key word: Authority!

Jesus taught as one who had authority: Lord over moral realm, doctrinal realm.

1:23-28        Do you see it?

There’s our key word again: A new teaching with “authority.”

Jesus commanded unclean spirits who had to obey Him: Lord over spiritual realm.

Then Jesus heals Simon’s mother in law of a fever, and many others. That reinforces that He is Lord over the physical realm.

1:35-38        Jesus didn’t get sidetracked: the good news comes first! All of that and a little more just from chapter one!

Chapter 2    

The healing of the paralytic brought by friends!      2:5-12

So you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins!

What does the exchange not so subtly reinforce about Jesus? His deity!

2:17   Rebuke of Pharisees:

Those who are well don’t need a doctor, but the sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.

This is key: Do you want God to work in your life? Than humble your sinful self before Him, don’t make excuses in pride!

2:27-28        The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.

This shows again His Lordship over the moral and doctrinal realm: He is clarifying God’s intention for the Sabbath.

Chapter 3

Chapter 3 begins by making clear that the Pharisees and Herodians were opposed to Jesus and began plotting how to destroy Him.

Here we again see Mark’s purpose in reaching out to Romans. We don’t read mention of the Herodians in Matthew’s gospel until chapter 22. Mark lets us know they were early on working against Jesus.

Herodians were Jews who were in league with Roman officials, and usually sided with the Sadducee party and hated Pharisees. Early on they came to agree on one thing: Jesus was a threat to their control of Israel.

3:11   Demons call Him the Son of God! This is usually how demons refer to Him.

What are the three things the first disciples were to do?    3:13-14

Be with Him; sent out to preach; have authority to drive out demons!

Chapter 4

3 of the 4 parables Mark’s gospel has, including the sower and the mustard seed.

Even wind and wave obey Him!          4:39-41        Lord over the physical realm!

Chapter 5

Casts a legion of demons out of a man          5:18-20

Decapolis (10 cities, east side of Jordan River/ Sea of Galilee/ Mostly Gentiles!)

Also in chapter 5 Jesus raises Jairus the synagogue leader’s daughter from the dead. Talitha koum is Aramaic, the common language of the day in Palestine.

Chapter 6

We know opposition to Jesus had been growing. Mark focuses in on another thing that Jesus faced: unbelief and hardness of hearts.

6:4-6  He was amazed at their unbelief.         3:5; 10:5

6:6b   He was going around the villages in a circuit, teaching. Then he sends out the 12 (Matthew 10 goes into more detail).

6:14   Mark lets us know that King Herod heard about what Jesus and His disciples were doing. This would be Herod Antipas, son of King Herod the Great.

He was the Tetrarch of Galilee, not quite a king. Mark calling him a king may be more about his ambition, and a little tongue in cheek, since Jesus was the real King, the King of Kings!

Here we also learn of John the Baptist’s courageous stand for truth that led to his being killed. What a testimony to godly preaching in 6:20 – JTB’s preaching disturbed Herod, but he would hear him gladly!

Chapter 6 shows the great miracles of feeding the 5,000 and walking on water. Both show Jesus’ omnipotence.

But look at 6:51-52         Even Jesus’ disciples were dealing with hardened hearts, despite witnessing these miracles.

What was the lesson of the loaves they had not understood? Their calling was a spiritual one.

The rest of their lives Jesus was going to ask them to do what they could not do with what they did not have. It called for a humble dependence on God professing believers today still struggle to accept!

Chapter 7

7:17-22        After the Pharisees criticized Jesus for not making His disciples adhere to their external religious rules, Jesus refers to the importance of the inward, the heart!

This is KEY stuff Jesus is teaching His disciples and us! We too love our external rules and checklists. Jesus is calling them to do justly, love mercy, walk humbly!

What they don’t get, the gentile mother Jesus talks to next does get, humbly coming to Him for the healing of her daughter. Then He goes back to the Decapolis and the response is great.

7:37   He does everything well! Mark is deliberately showing the difference in response from the religious leaders and desperate sinners.

Chapter 8

Feeding of 4,000

Verse 4 – they are still focusing on their lack of resources instead of His power!

Look at verses 17-21       It’s not about our resources – it’s about trusting the One with the resources!

KEY: Peter’s confession of Christ as turning point in the gospel (just like in Matthew 16).     8:27-38.

Chapter 9

The Transfiguration

9:19-24        I do believe, help my unbelief!

Second prediction of death

9:35             Want to be first?              Be the servant of all!

9:42ff          Don’t mess with My disciples! Then serious words about Hell.

Chapter 10

Question of divorce dealt with here: The teaching in Matthew is the longer teaching and should be consulted along with I Corinthians 7 to uncover the full biblical teaching on divorce and re-marriage. 

10:13-15      Blessing of children

Rich Young Ruler pressed about putting Christ first.

Third prediction of death.

10:42-45      Key passage: Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life – a ransom for many!

Chapter 11

The triumphal entry and cleansing the Temple complex

Confrontation about authority with the leaders        11:27-32

His answer continues into the next chapter

Chapter 12

The other parable in Mark – the parable of the vineyard owner. In the parable, the Owner’s son is killed by the tenants.

Reinforces to Roman audience that Jesus is the Son of God!       Read verses 9-12

Questions from Pharisees, Herodians, Sadducees, Scribes – they are all trying to trap Him – and He skillfully answers them all!

Key question to make them think from Psalm 110            Read verses 35-37

By the way, that’s the most quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament!

I love how chapter 12 ends! Jesus warns about show religion, and recognizes an overlooked widow!        Read verses 38-44

She was on Jesus’ itinerary as He thought about coming to earth!

Chapter 13

Mark’s version of the Olivet Discourse about end times events

New stuff:    Read verse 27

Mark includes Jesus saying the elect will be gathered from the end of the earth to the end of the sky. Matthew simply had the end of the sky part. So this is good and helpful supplemental information.

This could correspond to the rapture, but more likely those who have trusted in Him on earth during the tribulation, joining those saints in Heaven coming at His second coming.                    Compare I Thessalonians 4 and Revelation 19

Otherwise Mark has less on the end times, but the same conclusion of Jesus is given: “Be alert!”

Chapter 14

Mary anoints Jesus for death at Bethany

The prayer in the garden

Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial of Jesus.

Jesus’ sham trial before the Sanhedrin. Reinforces who Jesus really is!                    

Read verses 60-64           No doubt in their mind that Jesus was claiming to be God by claiming to be THAT Son of Man!

Chapter 15

Jesus’ sham trial before Pilate: Are you the King of the Jews? This would be of interest to the Romans!

Read Mark 15:33-34

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”

Mark joins Matthew in recording this statement!

His audience would have understood the contrast with their Caesars –This man really was God’s Son! Caesar’s come and go, the true Son of God is Jesus!

Chapter 16

Read verses 1-8     Jesus is alive!

And the audience Mark wrote to knew the rest of the story, as we do today!