The Gospel According to Mark
“And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.” - Mark 8:27-30
Most of us love heroic stories. We love to hear a story of conflict in which an unlikely candidate comes in to save the day. If you were a Jew living around the time of Jesus, you were hoping for a hero to come and rescue you from tremendous oppression. During this time, Israel was under Roman authority, which brought about a great deal of persecution among the Jews. Needless to say, the Jews wanted a hero! So, who did they look to to save them from oppression? Jesus, the Messiah.
The word “Messiah” actually means “Son of God.” For centuries, the Jews had read about and longed for this Messiah to come, but therein lies the tension; the Jews misunderstood what the Messiah would come to accomplish. They believed the main purpose of the Messiah was to overpower and overthrow Rome, but that’s not how the story unfolded. In fact, the very opposite takes place. Jesus didn’t overthrow Rome (at least in the eyes of the Jews), rather, Jesus was arrested, tortured, and crucified by the Romans. This left many of the Jews baffled, defeated, and afraid. Little did they realize, this was Jesus’ plan all along (Mark 8:31-33).
The Gospel of Mark was written to give Jews and Gentiles (specifically Romans) confidence that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah. Mark wants his audience to see that, through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God establishes His kingdom on earth. By doing so, Mark answers two important questions: (1) Who is Jesus? (Mark 1-8). (2) How does Jesus become the Messianic King? (Mark 9-16).
Why we chose this series
The goal of this series is the same as Mark’s intent. We want this series to answer two very important questions 1) Who is Jesus? 2) How is Jesus our King? Our hope through this series is that it will reach people wherever they are in their spiritual journey. We hope that believers in Christ can interact with this story and have their faith and confidence in him strengthened. We hope that non believers, skeptics, and doubters can be a part of this series and learn more about who Jesus is. We want all of the people to be able to answer the honest question that Jesus asked his disciples in Mark 8: “Who do you say that I am?”
Section One: Christ and His kingdom
Mark’s Gospel begins by explaining who Jesus is. This section shows us how Jesus establishes his rule and reign on earth. Many may have been tempted to see the Messiah as an impersonal, dictating ruler; however, these chapters show the contrary. Rather than going to religious and political authorities for significance and approval, Jesus goes to the weak and the marginalized. Rather than finding leaders with status and power to help him establish his Kingdom, he goes to the fishermen and tax collectors. What we will begin to see, through this section, is how Jesus’ scope of influence was beyond the nation of Israel and those under the Law. Instead Jesus wanted to reach the world of non Jews, the poor, the weak, and the sick.
Take time to read and study these passages of Scripture to see how Christ would come and establish His Kingdom. What do these passages teach you about how Christ would come?
Nahum 1:1-15; Malachi 3:1-5; 1 Samuel 21:1-6; Hebrews 2:11-12
Section Two: Christ and His Followers
At this point, Jesus’ popularity was beginning to grow. Crowds of people are following him and wondering what he’s all about; however, Jesus’ motive wasn’t to please the crowd. He spends his time pouring into his disciples and teaching them what it means to follow Christ. In this section, we see some of the well-known parables of Jesus. The purpose of these parables was, again, to teach the disciples (specifically) what the Kingdom of God was like, and the cost of what it means to be a true follower of Christ.
The parables of Jesus Christ are found throughout Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Take some time and study these parables. What do they teach you about what it means to follow Christ? How are they similar to the ones in Mark’s Gospel?
Matthew 13,18, 24-25; Luke 8,12-13, 20-21
Section 3: Christ and His Power
This is where the Gospel of Mark begins to take a turn. Jesus is displaying his power in ways that marveled his followers. We see two scenes in which Jesus miraculously feeds thousands of people. In addition, we see Jesus walk on water and cause a blind man to receive sight. These events not only caused controversy but also a sense of confidence among the disciples. In chapter 8, Peter begins to believe that Jesus was the one who would become king and overthrow Rome. Collectively, the disciples believed they would become benefactors of his ruling kingdom. However, Jesus begins to explain to them that he’s not going to be a king in the way they thought. He would become a Servant King.
Jesus is our Servant King. This was predicted by the prophet Ezekiel. Take a look at the prophet’s words regarding how he would lead us and guide us. In what ways do Ezekiel’s words resonate with you?
Section 4: Christ and His Gospel
This section begins with, perhaps, the most pinnacle point in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus foretells his death. For the disciples, this was seemingly anticlimactic. Little did they realize that Jesus’ death and resurrection would be the way Jesus would establish his Kingdom. In the next two chapters Jesus illustrates to his disciples how this would be possible. One of the most amazing moments happens in chapter 9, when Jesus brings Peter and John up to the Mount of Transfiguration, where the glory of God radiated through the person of Jesus Christ. It was a shocking scene that left the disciples believing that Jesus was much different than they originally thought.
At the end of Mark 8, we find shocking statements where Jesus predicts his death. Look at the passages below to see how Jesus’ words are a fulfillment of Scripture. What does this teach you about God’s redemptive plan?
2 Samuel 7:14-16; Daniel 7:13-14
Section 5: Christ & His Authority
After Jesus predicts his death, he more explicitly shows that he is the Son of God. One of the ways he does this is by displaying his authority. He begins to make claims that only God Himself can make. Another way that Jesus shows his authority is that he not only predicts His death and resurrection, but also His return!
Jesus displayed his authority because he is God! Read the section of Scripture below to see how Jesus proclaimed his divinity. Based on these chapters, what examples do we see of Jesus’ equality with God?
Section 6: Christ & His Victory
In these 3 chapters, everything that Jesus predicted has finally come true. He is betrayed, tried, and sentenced to death by crucifixion. Even the disciples denied him when he was on trial; however, all of this was a part of God’s redemptive plan. By ending his Gospel with Jesus’ death and resurrection, Mark’s goal in writing this story was accomplished. In order for Jesus to establish his Kingdom, he had to come and die as a sacrificial atonement for the sins of the world, and his resurrection proves that he is truly the Son of God!
How does Jesus’ death and resurrection make him King? Study the Scriptures below for more examples of how Jesus establishes his Kingdom through his death and resurrection.
Isaiah 53; Acts 1-2; Hebrews 5