Mark is the earliest of the Gospels and contains much of the teachings of Peter. This Gospel presents Jesus as the man of power, the strong and active Son of God; its climax is reached when Peter makes the great confession, “You are the Christ.”
Author: John (whose surname was Mark)
Two key passages to look at:
Mark 10:43-45 – “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
Mark 8:34-37 – “When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake
and the gospel’s will save it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
Key Chapter: Mark 8
As in Matthew, Mark’s gospel record contains a pivotal chapter showing the change of emphasis in Jesus’ ministry.
In Matthew it is chapter 12. In Mark it is chapter 8 The pivotal event lies in Peter’s confession, “You are the Christ.” That faith-inspired response triggers a new phase in both the content and the course of Jesus’ ministry. Until this point He has sought to validate His claims as the Messiah. But now He begins to fortify His apostles for His forthcoming suffering and death at the hands of the religious leaders. Jesus’ steps begin to take Him daily closer to Jerusalem—the place where the Perfect Servant will demonstrate the full extent of His servanthood.
Observations about Mark:
– The message of Mark’s gospel record is captured in a single verse: “For 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
– Verse by verse, chapter by chapter, the book unfolds the dual focus of Christ’s life: SERVICE and SACRIFICE.
– Mark portrays Jesus as a servant on the move., instantly responsive to the will of the Father.
— By preaching, teaching, and healing, He ministers to the needs of others even to the point of death.
— After the Resurrection He commissions His followers to continue His work in His power.
— Thus we have servants following in the paths of the perfect Servant.
– Concerning the Book of Mark:
– Mark was the first of the four gospel records to be written. However, there is uncertainty over its date.
– The Book of Mark is the shortest of the four gospel records.
– Mark was evidently directed to a Roman readership and early tradition indicates that it originated in Rome.
— This may be why Mark omitted a number of items that would not have been meaningful to Gentiles, including:
a. The genealogy of Christ.
b. Fulfilled prophecies. These are found in the
c. References to the Law. other gospel records
d. Certain Jewish customs
– Mark interpreted Aramaic words (3:17; 5:41; 7:34; 15;22).
– He used a number of Latin terms in place of their Greek equivalents (4:21; 6:27; 12:14, 42; 15:15-16, 39).
– Because this is the story of a Servant, Mark omits Jesus’ ancestry and birth and moves right into His public ministry.
– The distinctive word of the book is “euthus” (translated “immediately”), and it appears more often in this compact gospel record than in the rest of the New Testament.
– John Mark in the Bible record:
— According to Acts 12:12, Mark’s mother Mary had a large house that was used as a meeting place for Christians in Jerusalem. Peter apparently went to this house often because the servant girl recognized his voice at the gate in Acts 12:13-16).
— According to Colossians 4:10, Barnabas was Mark’s cousin. However, it may have been the person who led him to Christ because in 1 Peter 5:13, Peter called
him “Mark my son.”
— Barnabas and Saul took Mark along with them when they returned from Jerusalem to Antioch (Acts 12:25) and again when they left on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:5). However, when they reached Phyrgia in Pamphylia, John Mark turned back and returned to Jerusalem (Acts 13:13). He stayed with them 8 verses.
— When Barnabas wanted to bring him on the second missionary journey, Paul’s refusal led to a disagreement. The end result is recorded in Acts 13:36-41
a. Barnabas took Mark to Cyprus.
b. Paul took Silas through Syria and Cilicia.
– Nevertheless, there must have been a reconciliation. About 12 years later, Paul wrote that Mark was with him during his first Roman
imprisonment (Colossians 4:10 and Philemon 24). Near the end of His life, Paul sent for Mark saying, “he is useful to me for ministry” II Timothy 4:11
Mark, the shortest and simplest of the four gospel records, gives a crisp and fast-moving look at the life of Christ.
With few comments, Mark lets the narrative speak for itself as it tells the story of the Servant who constantly ministers to others through preaching, teaching, healing, and ultimately, His own death. Mark traces the steady building of hostility and opposition to Jesus as He resolutely moves toward the fulfillment of His earthly mission. Almost forty percent of the Book of Mark is devoted to a detailed account of the last eight days of Jesus’ life climaxing in His resurrection.
The Lord is vividly portrayed in the book in two parts:
Mark passes over the birth and early years of Jesus’ life and begins with the events that immediately precede the inauguration of His public ministry — His baptism by John and His temptation by Satan (1:1-13). The first four chapters emphasize the words of the Servant. Chapters 5-7 accent His works. However, in both sections there is a frequent alternation between Christ’s messages and miracles in order to reveal His person and power. Although Jesus has been teaching and testing His disciples (chapter 4), His ministry with them becomes more intense from this point on as He begins to prepare them for His
The religious leaders are growing more antagonistic, and Christ’s “hour” is only about six months away. Mark 8:31 is the pivotal point in the book as the Son of Man speaks clearly to His disciples about His coming death and resurrection. “And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” The disciples struggle with this difficult revelation, but Jesus moves toward Jerusalem.
Mark allots a disproportionate space to the last weeks of the Servant’s redemptive ministry. During the last seven days in Jerusalem, hostility from the chief priests, scribes, elders, Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees reaches crisis proportions as Jesus publicly refutes their arguments in the temple.
After His last supper with the disciples, Jesus offers no resistance to His arrest, abuse, and agonizing crucifixion.
His willingness to bear countless human sins is the epitome of servanthood.