The Gospel of Mark offers the shortest account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. There is an emphasis on the works of Jesus rather than on His extended discourses. There is a sense of urgency as the narrative moves quickly from one scene to another. Jesus is portrayed as the powerful, miracle-working Son of God and yet the fully human Suffering Servant who came to minister to others and offer His life as a sacrifice for sin on the cross. The target audience are the Gentile Christians in Rome who were facing the persecutions of the Emperor Nero. Therefore, Mark offers some interesting explanations of the Jewish customs of the day. The geographic progression in the book helps to segment some of the content – with Jesus eventually setting His face to go to Jerusalem. At the heart of the Gospel is a challenge regarding the heavy cost of cross-bearing and discipleship.
The Authority and Mighty Works of the Son of God vs. the Redemptive Mission of the Suffering Servant
Mark 1:1 — Title of the Book
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Mark 8:29 – Testimony of Peter
“Thou art the Christ”
Mark 10:45 – Testimony of Jesus Himself
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
(1:1-13) FOREWORD: PREEMINENCE OF JESUS CHRIST AND PREPARATION FOR MINISTRY
I. (1:14 – 8:26) THE AUTHORITY AND MIGHTY WORKS OF THE SON OF GOD
A. (1:14-20) The Launching of His Public Preaching Ministry and His Program of Personal Tutelage
B. (1:21 – 2:12) The Priority of the Spiritual Ministry of Jesus Christ
C. (2:13 – 3:6) The Authoritative Presence of the Promised Messiah Upsets the Status Quo – Leading to Confrontation and Controversy with the Established Religious Leaders
D. (3:7-35) 4 Challenges Jesus Faced Due to His Growing Popularity Amidst Growing Opposition — Balancing Ministering to the Multitudes and Personal Discipleship for Leadership Development
E. (4:1-34) 4 Parables Unlocking the Mysteries of the Kingdom of God Regarding its Reception and Growth
F. (4:35-5:43) 4 Realms of the Dominion of the Lord Jesus Demonstrated
G. (6:1-6) 4 Sobering Insights Regarding the Inevitability of Rejection
H. (6:7-56) 4 Lessons of Faith the Apostles in Training Needed to Master Regarding the Sufficiency of Jesus
I. (7:1-23) The Authoritative Presence of the Promised Messiah Upsets the Status Quo
– Leading to Confrontation and Controversy with the Established Religious Leaders
J. (7:24-37) Foretaste of Gentile Faith – Outsiders Can Become Insiders – Jesus Graciously Extends His Healing Power to Desperate Gentiles – In Recognition of Remarkable Faith and Evoking Remarkable Testimony
(8:27 – 9:13) HINGE: REINFORCING THE IDENTITY AND MISSION OF JESUS CHRIST – THE SON OF GOD – THE SUFFERING SERVANT
A1. (8:27-30) Clarity Regarding the Person of Jesus Christ – The True Identity of Jesus (Corroborated by His Authority and Mighty Works) Constitutes the Ultimate Litmus test for Spiritual Vision
B1. (8:31-33) Clarity Regarding the Mission of Jesus Christ – The Redemptive Mission of Jesus Christ Can Only Be Embraced By Relinquishing Human Autonomy and Submitting to Divine Lordship –
C. (8:34-38) Challenge Regarding the Heavy Cost of Discipleship – Cross-Bearing
Allegiance to His Person and Mission (Including Rejection and Suffering)
B2. (9:1) Reassurance Regarding the Mission of Jesus Christ – The Heavy Cost of Discipleship Pales in Contrast to the Mighty Display of Power in the Coming Kingdom of God
A2. (9:2-13) Reassurance Regarding the Person of Jesus Christ – The Son of Man Must Suffer in Order for the Son of God to be Seen in the Full Radiance of His Glory — Transfiguration
II. (9:14 – 16:8) THE REDEMPTIVE MISSION OF THE SUFFERING SERVANT
A. (9:14-10:52) The Suffering Servant Characterizing Greatness in the Kingdom –
Final Training of the Twelve
B. (11:1-12:44) The Suffering Servant Confronting the Hypocrisy of Established Judaism
C. (13:1-37) The Suffering Servant Commanding Vigilance in Anticipation of End Time Events –
Mt. Olivet Discourse – Day 3 of Passion Week
D. (14:1-15:47) The Suffering Servant Completing His Redemptive Mission
E. (16:1-8) The Suffering Servant Consummating His Redemptive Victory –
Our Approach to the Reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ Should Leave Us in a State of Awe and Amazement
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
• To flesh out the picture of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ from the perspective of the different authors of the Synoptic Gospels.
• To highlight the authority of Jesus as the unique Son of God alongside His servant mentality in ministering to others.
• To capture the most concise synopsis of the rapid fire pace of the events of the life and ministry of Christ.
• To understand discipleship in the light of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
• To gain insight into Jewish customs as explained to a Roman audience (mostly made up of Gentiles).
J. Sidlow Baxter: We only need to read Mark two or three times, and his uppermost purpose captures us. He wants us to see Jesus at work. It is as though he says: “Look! What Jesus did proves who He was. What He wrought authenticates what He taught. The mighty works verify the startling words. Watch Him at work, and marvel at this supernatural Wonder-worker! That will convince you. . . Mark is the camera-man of the four Gospel-writers, giving us shot after shot of unforgettable scenes. . . the perfect balance is sustained throughout between human servanthood and Divine lordship. The lordship is on every page, yet everywhere the Lord is the SERVANT – of the Divine will and of human need; the authorized and empowered Sent-One (ix. 37), expeditious, swiftly executive, dominating every situation, yet unobtrusive, compassionate, and in all things obeisant to the supreme Will . . .
Thomas Constable: 10:45 = key to understanding the book:
First, the Son of Man came. That is the Incarnation. The Son of Man was God incarnate in human nature. His identity is a major theme in this Gospel, as it is in all the Gospels.
Second, the Son of Man did not come to be ministered unto, but to minister. That is service. This Gospel also has much to teach disciples about service to God and to our fellow men.
Third, the Son of Man came to give His life a ransom for many. That is His sufferings. Mark’s Gospel stresses the sufferings of the Suffering Servant of the Lord. Mark is the Gospel of the Servant of God.
Mark Copeland: SPECIAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GOSPEL
A. AN EARLY GOSPEL…
1. Probably the first one written
2. All but 31 verses are quoted in the other gospels
3. Leading many to conclude that Matthew and Luke based their gospels on Mark
B. A CONCISE GOSPEL…
1. The shortest of the four gospels
2. Luke has 1151 verses, Matthew 1071, John 879, Mark 661
3. Mark’s entire gospel can be read aloud in 1.5 hours
C. A FAST-PACED GOSPEL…
1. Over 40 times he uses a word translated “straightway” or “immediately”
2. Two-thirds of the verses begin with “and”
3. The present tense is used frequently (e.g., they come…He says…He sends…)
D. A VIVID GOSPEL…
1. Mark presents “lively little touches” not found in the other gospels – Hendriksen
2. “…he wrote with all the graphic distinctiveness and vividness of an eyewitness – Erdman
3. It may have been Peter’s reminiscences, or perhaps his own, that account for such details
E. AN EVANGELISTIC GOSPEL…
1. It opens with “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ…” – Mk 1:1
2. It closes with “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” – Mk 16:15
Daniel Wallace: Outline —
In some ways, the book divides neatly into two halves: Jesus’ ministry in Galilee (1:1–8:21) and Jesus’ journey to and ministry in Judea (8:22–16:8). Clearly Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi is the turning point, regardless of whether the Gospel has two halves or seven parts. Up until 8:21 it is clear that Jesus’ ministry is as the servant of the Lord, while after 8:21 it is more focused: he is the suffering servant of the Lord.
In our approach, the geography plays an important role: hence, there are six major sections (seven, if the opening section is included).
I. The Beginning of the Servant’s Ministry (1:1-13)
II. The Servant’s Ministry in Galilee (1:14–6:6a)
III. The Servant’s Withdrawals from Galilee (6:6b–8:21)
IV. Revelation of the Servant’s Suffering at Caesarea Philippi (8:22-38)
V. The Suffering Servant’s Journey to Jerusalem (9:1–10:52)
VI. The Suffering Servant’s Ministry in Jerusalem (11:1–13:37)
VII. The Culmination of the Suffering Servant’s Ministry: Death and Resurrection (14:1–16:8)
Chuck Swindoll: While Matthew’s gospel portrays Jesus as the King, Mark reveals Him as God’s Servant. Jesus’s work was always for a larger purpose, a point clearly summarized in Mark 10:45, “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 filled his gospel with the miracles of Jesus, illustrating again and again both the power and the compassion of the Son of God. In these passages, Mark revealed more than Jesus as the good teacher who offered people spiritual renewal; the book also portrays Jesus as the true God and the true man, reaching into the lives of people and effecting physical and circumstantial change.
But Jesus’s life as the agent of change wasn’t without an ultimate purpose. Amid His hands-on ministry, Jesus constantly pointed to the definitive way in which He would serve humanity: His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. It is only through faith in these works of Jesus Christ that human beings find eternal redemption for their whole selves. Moreover, Jesus becomes our model for how to live our lives—serving others as He did.