An overview of the book of Mark
AUTHOR: MARK (a disciple of the Apostle Peter)
The author is John Mark, the same individual that joined Paul on his first missionary journey.
THEME: The Suffering Servant. In the gospel of Matthew, we saw
Christ being presented to the Jews as their king. The book began with a genealogy which proved that Jesus Christ had a legal claim to this world’s throne. Throughout this book, we find everything presents an aspect of His coming as a king. In the gospel of Mark, we find the same Person being presented to the world but in a different role. Rather than seeing CHRIST as a King, we find Him in the disguise of a Servant – the Servant of Jehovah! (Only in the gospel of Mark are we told that Jesus was a carpenter.)
KEY WORD: IMMEDIATELY (Straightway) found forty times.
DATE: 50-55 A.D.
INTRODUCTION: The book of Mark is the oldest of the four Gospels. It is used as a source book for the rest of the New Testament more than any of the other Gospels. You will remember that there are four Gospels because each one represents Jesus from a different standpoint. Just as the same lady can be a mother to one person, a wife to another, a daughter to another, and a friend to another, each Gospel shines its light upon Jesus from another angle. Matthew shows Him as the King. Mark shows Him as the Servant. Luke shows Him as the Son of Man. John shows Him as the Son of God. He is the same Person, yet He is shown in four different lights by four different authors. Let us notice some interesting things about the Gospel of Mark.
THE GOSPEL OF MARK WAS WRITTEN BY JOHN MARK. He was the son of one of the New Testament Mary’s. He was a nephew of Barnabas. (Read Acts 12:25; 15:37-39; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; and Philemon 24.) Not one of the twelve apostles (Mark 10:2-4). When he was a young man he accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. While on this journey, the missionaries encountered a sorcerer, Elymas, who tried to hinder them through Satanic powers. Paul rebuked Elymas in the power of the Holy Spirit and the sorcerer was struck with blindness. This incident resulted in the salvation of the deputy of the island. At that time he became afraid, or for sane other reason turned back, leaving Paul and Barnabas and going home. Maybe he was afraid; maybe he was homesick, but at least we know he did turn back. Years later, John Mark was not only given the opportunity to re-join Paul, but also was given the privilege of writing this gospel which bears his name. (Teacher, stress here the importance of not turning back. When a job is begun, finish it. Keep going forward! Never turn back!)
THE GOSPEL OF MARK WAS WRITTEN TO SHOW JESUS AS A HUMBLE SERVANT. The key verse is Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Yes, Jesus was the King, as Matthew shows Him. He was the Son of God, as John shows Him, but He also was a servant. Did He not say that the servant was the greatest of all?
The Apostle Paul in many of his epistles begins simply by saying, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ.” He could have said, “Paul, a Christian leader,” “Paul, an outstanding missionary,” or “Paul, a great preacher,” but the greatest title of all is the title of a servant. (Teacher, stress here the importance of the menial tasks. Take time to teach the pupils to do the dishes, work in the yard, serve others and do for others. In so doing, not only do they provide for others, but they find happiness themselves.)
There are three great misunderstandings about greatness.
III. THE WORD USED FOR “SERVANT” IS THE WORD “BOND-SERVANT.“ There was a difference between “servant” and “bond-servant.” A “servant” was a slave. He had to be a slave; he was purchased for that cause. When this servant’s time of service was over and he was released, he could volunteer to continue as a servant. In other words, many times a slave became so close to his master that he would rather continue the rest of his life as a slave. He in turn volunteered to be a slave.
He entered into a bond agreement with his master. He became a “bond-servant” voluntarily. This is what God wants us to be. He wants us to serve Him, but He wants us to serve willingly. He frees us that we might serve Him.
MARK IS A GOSPEL OF DOING GOOD DEEDS RATHER THAN A GOSPEL OF DOCTRINE, PHILOSOPHY, ETC. Over and over again he mentions what we ought to do for God in order to serve Him and serve Him better.
ONE OF THE KEY WORDS TO MARK IS THE WORD “STRAIGHTWAY.” This was a servant’s word.
In other words, when the command comes from the master, “straightway” the servant obeys. He doesn’t wait, linger around, or take time to decide; he obeys him immediately.
MARK GIVES NO GENEALOGY. Luke gives a genealogy tracing Jesus back to prove that He is a man. Matthew gives a kingly genealogy to show Jesus as King. Mark gives no genealogy at all, for who gives the genealogy of a servant? To prove that someone is a servant needs no genealogy. It is of no importance where a slave comes from it is only important that a slave obey. Anybody can be a servant, and everybody should be one.
VII. MARK WAS GIVEN A SECOND CHANCE. (Notice Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; and Philemon 24.) Yes, Mark failed the first time he went with Barnabas and Saul, and he turned back, but he was not cast aside. Paul gave Mark another chance, and he became a great comfort and help to the Apostle Paul. Thank God that He is the God of a second chance. He gave Peter a second chance. He gave Samson a second chance. He gave Jonah a second chance. If we have failed once, God will still use us.
VIII. MARK PROBABLY HELPED TO FOUND THE CHURCH AT COLOSSE. He had been close to Philemon, who lived in Colosse. Philemon had a church in his own house. There are reasons to support the possibility that Mark had something to do with this church.
CONCLUSION: (Teacher, lead the class in discussing what deeds of service they can do and how they can be servants. Explain to than how many people in the Bible and in history were servants first and then became leaders. Billy Sunday was an assistant, a helper and a sort of jack-of-all-trades man for J. Wilbur chapman until God opened the door for Billy Sunday to become an evangelist. Joshua was a servant to Moses until he became a great leader. Elisha was a servant to Elijah until he became a great leader. Paul was a servant to Barnabas until he became a great leader. There is nothing that prepares one for success in life as does a willingness to serve.)
OUTLINE OF THE BOOK OF MARK
By an unhindered path.
Mk. 1:3 – The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
John the Baptist came to clear the way for the Servant of Jehovah. He preached repentance to the people in preparation for the redeemer of mankind.
Every person who serves the Lord will receive a specific task. For some, we are to clear the way for someone else to follow. Some are to plant, some are to praise the Lord for the privilege of being a part of His program.
By an unbelievable profession.
Mk. 1:9 – And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
Many denominations have come to believe that baptism has the ability to wash away sins or is necessary for one’s salvation. For those who believe in “baptismal regeneration,” this incident should be very alarming because Jesus did not have any sins to be washed away nor did He need salvation!
Why then was Jesus baptized? He personally tells us in
Matt. 3:15 – And Jesus answering said unto him, suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. He is saying simply that he is being baptized because it is the right thing to do.
He was baptized because He was taking a public stand with the right crowd – Christians.
Baptism is a means of publicly confessing who we belong to. It doesn’t wash away sins – it doesn’t earn any points with God – it is simply a step of obedience to a definite command. (Acts 2:38-41)
Baptism also identifies us with 3 things; The LORD Jesus, The local church and the doctrine that is taught by that church. Jesus walked 40 miles to be baptized by John the Baptist who had never been baptized. John had been given the authority to baptize from heaven. Jesus was baptized by John to identify with the doctrine that John the Baptist was preaching.
By unlimited power.
Mk. 1:10 – And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him:
Remember, Jesus is being presented as a Servant. He has just obeyed God’s command to be baptized, and following his obedience, He receives the power of the Holy Spirit. Prior to this event, He never performed a single miracle – He never preached one recorded sermon -but now, the Servant has been given power to serve for His Master.
This provision of power to a Servant is a wonderful picture of Joel 2:28-29 – And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
By unsuccessful testing.
Mk. 1:12-13 – And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.
Mark doesn’t go into many details as do the writers of Matthew and Luke. They present Christ as the King and as the perfect man. They both are seen as victorious. The servant of Mark, however, is not seen in victory but in suffering and affliction.
It isn’t the outcome that is stressed because a servant isn’t concerned with the outcome – they are only concerned with serving. And while we serve, we will be tested.
HIS DUTIES AS A SERVANT. Mk. 1:14-8:30
He performed miracles.
Mk. 1:23-24 – And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
When Jesus came to this earth, He was recognized by the demons. Notice when speaking with a demon, Christ was recognized NOT as the Savior of mankind – but as sent from the Father.
The quickest way to lose God’s power and blessings is to forget that we are simply servants who seek to glorify God and not ourselves.
Mk. 1:35 – And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
It seems almost incredible that Jesus Christ had to spend time -precious time in prayer. Why? Because as a servant, He desperately needed to know the desires of His Master.
Christ offers Himself as the perfect example for Christian servants. It is the sore lacking of such servants which has caused a powerlessness in the church and great harm.
Deacons are specifically singled out as servants, but in most churches they are serving themselves instead of being Spirit filled men who seek the desires of their Lord and their pastor.
Staff-members can be a source of great blessing and encouragement to their pastor and church or a source of division and contention. A staff-member is not hired to build his own empire and run things his own way or try to change the pastor. He is hired by the pastor and is to literally become “like-minded” with the pastor and to literally become an extension of the pastor – as a servant.
Church workers (Sunday School teachers, Bus workers, ushers, etc.) have been invited into the realm of service with the pastor. As the pastor serves the church body, these workers are to join him in his service by presenting themselves as his servants.
What was the great purpose of prayer for Christ? To become one (like minded) with the Father. This is the true meaning of His great prayer in Gethsemane – “Not My will, but THINE be done.”
He forgave sins.
Mark. 2:5 – When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
As the Servant of God, Jesus Christ was given the authority and power to forgive sins, but this was because it pleased His Father!
A true servant is one who will soon adopt the desire of their master as their own. As Christian servants, we may find perfect happiness when we receive the mind of Christ.
Concerning His duties as the Servant of God, even those who eventually crucified Him were forced to admit His faithfulness in deeds.
Mark. 7:37 – He hath done all things well: he maketh the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak.
He reproduced Himself.
Mk. 9:35 – And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and the servant of all.
Christ believed so strongly in His coming as servant, that He instructed His disciples with its importance.
One problem that a servant will sometimes have is – they feel that they need to know everything the master knows. If they keep asking “why,” they aren’t really a servant.
To establish a perfect role-model, Christ came to earth not knowing everything that the Master knew. (Mk. 13:32) – But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
III. HIS REJECTION AS A SERVANT.
Foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
(Isa. 53:4) – “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” Notice the action of the servant: “borne,” “carried.”
(Isa. 53:10) – “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.”
Foretold by Moses.
(Ex. 21:32) – “If the ox shall push a manservant or a maidservant; he shall give unto their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.” The price of a servant was estimated at 30 pieces of silver
– the same amount for which Jesus, the Servant of God was sold by Judas.
The last words spoken by the Servant of God to the saints of God were words of action. (Mk. 16:15) – “Go ye into all the world, and PREACH the gospel to every creature.“