Preparing for Mark
Our hope for this teaching series is that our love and devotion as disciples increases as we encounter Jesus up-close in Mark. If we give ourselves prayerfully to sitting at Christ’s feet in Mark, the impact over this semester will be undeniable because God’s Word never comes back void. So, in your spare time, take up Mark and read. Journal your way through the book. Invite your friends to come and investigate Jesus. And pray for Jesus to work in power this semester as we seek to following him more faithfully into the uncharted waters of life and discipleship.
If we read Mark’s Gospel right, it will shock us. In Mark, the pace is frantic. The disciples are as confused and as flawed as ever. And because Mark is a vivid storyteller who shifts settings so fast, Mark presents Jesus as he truly is: unpredictable and unstoppable. Why study Mark this fall? Because Mark will shock us—in a holy and transformative way: this semester in Mark, we’ll see Jesus with fresh eyes.
Based on Peter’s eye-witness account of Jesus’s life, Mark’s Gospel portrays Jesus as the authoritative Son of God, inaugurating God’s kingdom at a furious pace. In fact, Church history rightly identifies Mark’s gospel with the image of a lion. Mark’s gospel shows Jesus, like a lion, bounding from place to place, engaging in teaching and healing with great authority, bringing the kingdom in a way that cannot be tamed and that topples Satan’s rule and sin’s tyranny over humanity. “Immediately” is Mark’s favorite way to conveys this sense of urgency, authority, and untamed power as it appears 10+ times in his first chapter alone.
Getting Re-Introduced to Jesus
This means that diving into Mark this semester will put us face-to-face with Jesus, in all His authority, power, and grace. Just as the first eight chapters of Mark find the disciples asking the question, “who is this man, Jesus?,” we too will be re-challenged by and re-introduced to Jesus afresh. In Mark, Jesus with disciple us once again as hear him show and teach what it means:
To respond to the coming of the kingdom (ch 1)
To follow Him (Ch 1-2),
To be good soil that bears fruit with our lives (Ch 4)
To trust Jesus by faith in life’s storms, both literal and figurative (Ch 5-6)
To embrace the cost of discipleship (Ch 6)
To know the difference between the gospel, religion, and irreligion (Ch 7)
To choose the kingdom’s view of greatness over the world’s (Ch 10),
To live diligently in the world in light of eternity (Ch. 13)
To embrace the good news of the Cross and Resurrection (Ch. 14-16)
Faithful and Failed Discipleship
In Mark, Jesus will once again disciple us in what it really means to follow Him. Along the way, Mark will show the difference between faithful and failed discipleship—as well as the patience Jesus shows even when we stumble into the latter.
In fact, Mark is so concerned with our discipleship that he gives the harshest picture of the disciples of all the synoptic gospel writers. (Given that Mark writes from Peter’s testimony, this isn’t too much of a surprise, with Peter’s constant faltering. And before we get too critical, Peter is a mirror for us, if we’re honest.)
Mark goes out of his way to point out the disciples’ hardness of heart (6:52) and repeatedly notes their flawed discipleship for our benefit. Mark is a crash course in what it means to follow Jesus with an important lesson for those of us that stumble and wander: if Jesus was gracious to his original flawed followers, he will be gracious to us as well as we grow with Him by faith.
In Mark, we find Jesus is a Savior and King who continually exercises patience with his disciples and eventually even dying for their sin to restore them to God. In this way, Mark showcases Jesus as both the Savior whom we follow and worship as well as the example of discipleship toward which we strive. For disciples of Jesus, our goal is the true greatness of serving others in patient, gracious, sacrificial love like Christ. This comes as we grow in faith in the one who first served us.
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45