We are so happy you are joining us as we read through the New Testament this year. Our journey begins with the Gospel of Mark. This week we read chapters 1-5 and what an action-packed week it was! Let’s take some time to review and reflect, shall we? Please note that there is a lot of material in these five chapters and I cannot possibly cover all of it without this post being VERY long! So, I will share with you my overall thoughts and the things the Holy Spirit spoke to me about. I’d love to hear how the Lord spoke to you in this week’s readings! Please leave a comment below or join our private Facebook group!
Mark Overview and Background
- thought to be the earliest of the four Gospels
- shortest Gospel with 16 chapters
- written approximately mid-60s AD (roughly 30 years after Jesus’ ministry)
- author is thought to be John Mark (Acts 12:12, Acts 12:25, Acts 13:5)
- Peter’s testimony is considered to be a source for this Gospel account
Beginnings (Mark 1:1-8)
Mark opens with a quote from the Old Testament (Isaiah 40:3, Malachi 3:1) regarding God’s messenger who will prepare the way for the Messiah. Mark is clearly showing that the messenger is John the Baptist and the Messiah is Jesus (fulfilled prophecy). John the Baptist calls for repentance and turning from sin. He receives a very favorable response and baptizes many. It has been over 400 years since the people have heard from the Lord – they are ready to receive their promised Messiah!
Jesus is Baptized (Mark 1:9-11)
One question you might have asked yourself is why was Jesus baptized? He was sinless, fully man and fully God. John the Baptist was baptizing people as a show of repentance and turning from sin. Jesus did not need to repent; however, through his baptism, Jesus identified Himself with sinful humanity. It marked the arrival of God’s presence.
Did you notice the triune God present in this scene? God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit were present at the baptism of Jesus. The Spirit came upon Jesus to validate His identity and earthly mission.
Jesus’ Early Ministry (Mark 1:12-45)
After a 40 day period of testing by Satan in the wilderness, Jesus emerged to declare the arrival of the Kingdom of God. He began to call individual disciples who immediately left everything they know to follow Him. It hits home the point that the call of Jesus is urgent and life-changing.
Jesus began to teach with authority. He healed the sick and demon possessed. We learn more about what Jesus DOES rather than what he SAYS. Evil spirits recognized Him as the Holy One of God who had come to destroy them. It is interesting to note that in chapter one the only ones who are opposed to Jesus’ early ministry are the demons!
This is where Jesus begins to speak more freely about the meaning of His message and ministry. It is also the time when opposition begins to develop. Jesus hung around with sinners. He broke down barriers. He healed those seen as unclean and cast-offs of society.
Opposition continues to mount as Jesus is found to be healing on the Sabbath. The religious leaders were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus. Sabbath should have been a welcomed rest and a time for communing with God. However, the Pharisees had instituted man-made rituals and regulations for the people to follow that were not in line with the Word of God. It is important for us as Christians to ensure that we discern the truth from the Word of God. We cannot make Scripture say what we want it to say.
Jesus begins to use parables to communicate spiritual truths. He uses these teaching moments in specific situations to communicate truth indirectly. He tells His disciples that the secret of the Kingdom of God has been granted to them; for all others, everything is in parables.
Jesus heads to a Gentile city and meets a man possessed by a legion of demons. This man was an outcast. People more than likely feared him. He broke through chains meant to bind him. No one could help him. Until Jesus walked onto the scene. The demons feared that Jesus would torment them. Jesus permits the demons to leave the man and enter the herd of pigs nearby who rushed down a slope and drowned. The local people were afraid of Jesus. Can you imagine yourself in this scene? Put yourself in the shoes of a townsperson who knew of this crazy demon-possessed man who was miraculously healed. How would you react to this event?
The most astonishing part of this story, to me, is what happens at the end. I never noticed this part before. Jesus told the man to go and share his testimony with his home and people. And do you know what the man does? He went and spread his story to the entire 10 city region (the Decapolis)! Praise God!
I will close with some final thoughts on the story of the bleeding woman in Mark 5. She was one of the outcasts. A bleeding disorder meant that she was unclean and had to remain outside of camp. For twelve YEARS! But she knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that if she could just get to this Jesus – if she could simply TOUCH a fragment of his robe – she would be healed. The text does not tell us that she felt the need to talk to him or plead her case. She simply needed to touch his clothing. Her genuine faith astounds me. How often do we hold onto things in our lives, trying to fix it with our own limited human means, when all we need is simply a touch from Jesus?
…your faith has healed you… (Mark 5:34)
This week we will dig into Mark chapters 6-10. I cannot wait to hear your insights as we journey through this book together!