Reading the Bible together
Read on your own or with others, whichever
This leaflet is just a brief overview of the ‘big picture’ of Mark. If you have been reading the Bible for sometime,
you will be aware there is much more to this book.
If you are new to reading the Bible, don’t worry too much
if there are details you do not quite get at the moment –
focus on the ‘big picture’.
Mark – Introduction
Mark is probably the first of the four Gospels to be written about 30 years after the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Mark is the shortest of the Gospels and Matthew covers over 90% of the material in Mark. For this reason, it is tempting to think we do not have to bother with Mark if we have read Matthew, but Mark was writing from a particular point of view. Mark was writing to the church in Rome while it was being persecuted, and many Christians being killed. He reminds them that Jesus is King, but He is the suffering servant-king (remember Isaiah) who said ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’. (Mark 8:34)
Mark, like Matthew, is keen to show us that Jesus is the Messiah promised in the Old Testament. As you read you may notice, in particular, the references to Isaiah, which we have read recently.
Mark – Outline
1. Jesus is introduced and prepared for His work (Mark 1:1-13)
Mark writes in a very brief and urgent way. He introduces the Lord Jesus Christ,
and His preparation for public work in 13 verses (Matthew and Luke take several
chapters). Mark is keen ‘to get to the point’.
2. Jesus begins to teach about the kingdom (Mark 1:15-3:12)
If I had to pick one verse to sum up Mark’s Gospel, it would probably be ‘The time
has come’, he said. ‘The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the
Good News!’ (Mark 1:15)
In this section, we see Jesus teaching this message and confirming His authority by many miracles. We also see how people respond to His message. The disciples and the crowds follow Him, many are amazed but there is opposition from the religious authorities.
3. The kingdom and faith (Mark 3:13-8:21)
Jesus chooses the 12 disciples. While still teaching the crowds, He is then
particularly teaching and preparing the disciples. A theme running through this
section is the importance of responding to Jesus through faith. Jesus taught through
His words (parables) and His actions (miracles).
Mark has recorded for us several parables teaching about the kingdom of God, and the need for us to respond by faith.
Mark also tells us about many miracles, which teach us about Jesus in several ways:
- The miracles show us the unique power of the Lord Jesus Christ
- In the miracles He fulfills what is written in the Old Testament
- Many of the miracles illustrate the response of faith to the Lord Jesus
4. Following Jesus (Mark 8:22-10:45)
Mark begins this section by telling us of Jesus miraculously curing a blind man in
two stages (Mark 8:22-26). This illustrates where the disciples were. They could
see in part. They knew Jesus was special (Mark 8:27-30) but they did not
understand the nature of His kingdom (Mark 8:31-33).
In this section, Jesus teaches the disciples, and us, two things in particular:
- Jesus must be the suffering servant we read about in Isaiah (Mark 8:31)
- We can expect no better – we have to ‘take up our cross’ to follow Him (Mark 8:34)
5. Jesus the suffering Servant-King (Mark 10:46-16:8)
This section also starts with an account of a blind man receiving his sight. This
time a man who, by faith, sees that Jesus is the Son of David – God’s anointed
king – is healed. This miracle illustrates what is to follow.
We then see Jesus entering Jerusalem to a welcoming crowd. He is riding on a colt,
a sign that He is a triumphant but humble King (Mark 11).
Later in this section we see Him as the suffering servant of Isaiah, as He dies on the cross. As in Matthew, we see the temple curtain torn (Mark 15:38) showing that
Jesus has dealt with sin and opened the way to heaven.
In chapter 16, Mark deals very briefly with the resurrection. It is as if he is saying ‘point proved’; Jesus has defeated sin and death. Mark sees no need to labour the point.
(There is some dispute among scholars about whether Mark 16:9-20 is actually part
of Mark’s Gospel. Since there is nothing taught there which is different from what is taught in other parts of the Bible, we do not need to worry greatly about that dispute).
Asking the questions the Bible wants you to ask
What does this book teach us about Jesus? (Luke 24:45-47)
What does this book teach us about yourself? (James 1:23 & 2 Tim 3:16-17)
How were you encouraged? (Romans 15:4)
How were you corrected? (2 Tim 3:16-17)
What did you learn that helps you to build up the church (Eph 4:11-6)
What did you learn that helps you love the Lord your God? (Matt 22:37-40)
What has helped you love your neighbour as yourself? (Matt 22:37-40)