The Gospel of Mark (chapters 1-5)

Let’s begin with a word about 3W. Every month we gather at Northminster on a Wednesday evening from 6:00-8:00 PM for food, fellowship, worship and discipleship. We call it 3W because it happens on the third Wednesday of the month.

This fall we are going to focus on the four gospels. If you will commit to reading about one chapter a day (the reading schedule is here), you will read each gospel during the month before we meet to discuss it.

At 3W I will offer a brief introduction to the gospel of the month, and then teach/discuss several passages.

This is where you come in: as you are reading you can post questions and observations by scrolling to the bottom of this post and clicking Leave a comment. Your insights will guide our study at 3W, and they will give you a chance to see what others are scratching their heads about.

Starting in September I will be preaching from the gospel we are reading together. The Sunday before 3W I introduce the author of the month’s gospel. I’m not confusing you will all these details, am I?

Here’s my promise—If you will dive in to this community-wide study, when the new year rolls around you will have read the four most important books in the Bible and you will have gained important knowledge about Jesus and the early church.

Okay then, let’s get to it. Here are some questions that come to mind as I’m reading chapters 1-5.

Why begin with Mark when Matthew comes first in the Bible?

Mark is actually the gospel that was written first. It was written about 30 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Who wrote the gospel of Mark?

John Mark whose mother owned the upper room in Jerusalem where Jesus and his followers celebrated the passover meal the night before his crucifixion. Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey and he became an assistant to Simon Peter with the church in Rome. (You can learn more about him in worship on September 12). In the first century authors did not sign their works. The closest thing we have to a signature from John Mark is Mark 14:51-52.

What should I pay attention to while reading Mark?

  • Notice that It is the shortest gospel and that half of its 16 chapters deal with the last week of Jesus’ life.
  • Notice Mark’s fast pace–immediately is one of his favorite words.
  • Notice the interruptions: Jesus never seems to get where he is going in Mark—his ministry occurs when he is interrupted.
  • Notice how Jesus keeps instructing people not to tell anyone who he is. What’s up with that?
  • Chapter 4 introduces one of Jesus’ favorite teaching methods—parables. Here’s a famous definition: “The parable is a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by it’s vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought” C.H. Dodd.
  • Pay attention to how many healings and miracles occur. Mark is particularly impressed with Jesus as a healer/miracle worker.

This will get you started on our fall gospel journey. Now, go ahead and hit Leave a comment and join the discussion.

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13 Responses to The Gospel of Mark (chapters 1-5)

  1. Kasey Buckland says:

    1-mark 3-what does it really mean to “blasphemy the holy spirit?” what does that really look like? and why is it not an “unforgivable sin” to blasphemy against God and Jesus if they are the same?
    2- what does the new wine skin/patch too small really mean?  I get the metaphor but something about it doesn’t fully click in the context with me.
    3- did Jesus ever attempt a miracle and it didn’t work?

    • logan jones says:

      kasey … i thought it was funny that a question you asked last week was “did Jesus attempt a miracle that did not work?” AND well, today in chapter 8 verse we read,
      23He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”

      24He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”

      25Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”

      so wha’ what? Jesus had to try twice?? just thought that it’s too ironic not too mention, you know since you’d asked last week. 🙂

      • Kasey Buckland says:

        Logie- I totally agree! I thought it was ironic too that when he went to his hometown was where he could do the “least miracles.” hmmm….. In the words of double rainbow, “but what does it mean?” 🙂

    • Mary Beth El-Shafie says:

      I have the same questions as 1 and 2!

  2. Rach says:

    Hi Sammy,
    Logan said we could write on your blog and ask questions or make comments about the readings for this week so here goes 🙂

    Thought 1
    Vs 13 “Once again Jesus went out beside the lake” … Jesus spent a lot of time on the water, I know he used it in many metaphors because the culture were largely fisherman and everyone could relate but I’m wondering why he enjoyed or went to the water so much … you love the water, we love the water … I can only imagine that our Creator who had a love for the water/ocean/lake and the symbolism of baptism would place this same desire in us …
    Thought 2 –
    15While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

    Okay so in verse 16 the tax collectors asked the disciples … when Jesus heard this He said to him … okay this got my attention the tax collectors asked the disciples and JESUS ANSWERED THEM … When I read that I heard the Holy Spirit say He nipped it in the bud, He cut it off, He didn’t let the talking continue He went straight to the point and went straight to the truth. That encouraged me … challenged me and made me think about the next time I face a question like that I will make that same choice. So those are the thoughts in my head from Day 2. On to day 3 🙂

  3. … just wanted to say that I just finished reading “Life of the Beloved” and it has changed my outlook on life, both personally, on the inside, but also in general, on the outside as a way of viewing the neighbors I have from Him.


    ps.: Reading Mark 1 etc. last week and feeling very “immediate” about pretty much everthing 🙂

    My question for the Mark 1 gospel reading is …
    According to verse[s] 14-15, ” […] preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and put your trust in the gospel.” is it fair to say that the gospel can be summed up as follows;
    “God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and trust the good news … the good news that we can change and live life His way!” … is that a good way of reading Mark 1:15? Am I missing something in my summary of the gospel according to verse 15?


  4. Kasey Buckland says:

    Why does Jesus keep telling people to not tell anyone what he’s done for them?

  5. logan jones says:

    [mark 8] = today’s reading in verse 15 i read “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”

    16They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”

    well, obviously, the disciples were lost and “blind” and couldn’t figure out what he means … to be honest so am I a bit.

    “What’s the YEAST of the Pharisees & of Herod? What does he mean by that?”


    • Mary Beth El-Shafie says:

      I’m no Bible scholar, but I understood it as a comparison to the way yeast “spreads” through the bread, or “infects” it in a way…becomes an indistinguishable part of the bread and causes it to rise.

  6. Kasey Buckland says:

    Holy cow! Mark 10 is full of things!
    1-so what’s the ‘real deal’ with divorce. Why would Moses allow it and then Jesus turn it over? I know divorce is never ideal but are there ever exceptions?
    2-The rich man that wouldn’t sell everything and follow him….how can we wrestle with having earthly possessions and still be living God’s direction? How can we make sure we are selling “our earthly possessions” according to today’s standards?
    3-It seems like Jesus gets frustrated with the disciples so frequently because “they just don’t get it.” how/why did he choose those guys? Why not some of the people he had healed that could speak to his proof in their life?
    4-Sounds like some of the people he healed were allowed to tag along for a while or sent away but never asked to stay- why?

  7. Howard P says:

    Why does Jesus keep telling people to not tell anyone what he’s done for them?

    I think Jesus experienced his greatest joy from interacting with all people in a spirit of brotherhood and equality, connected at the level of their shared experiences of humanity. And I think this is particularly true with people who were socially marginalized or in other ways looked down upon by the society of his day. These interactions represented his favorite experiences of the greatest commandments, “Love your God with all your heart, mind, and soul……and love your neighbor as your self.” If word spread of his being “special”, then the everyday people he most enjoyed anonymous engagement with would be inclined to put him on a pedestal, or be intimidated by his status, and thus he would lose the very thing that he most enjoyed about his human experience……the opportunity to relate to others as equals, free from the influence of prejudices and presumptions that get in the way when we see each other as titles, positions, and roles. In many respects, I think this aspect of Jesus is the one that most reveals his heart and how different he was relative to the world. It also says a lot about the “kingdom” he envisioned “on earth as it is in Heaven”. In the world, our inclination is to seek status, positions, and roles in order to build identities that give us greater confidence in our relations with others. Jesus came to demonstrate how different things would look, and how differently we would treat one another, if we tap into God’s love for all of us in order to truly “see” each other the way God sees us, and treat one another accordingly. This was his way and his truth, and the experiences of God and others provided by such interactions were where he found and was nourished by life. He didn’t want word of his miracles to get out because he knew that would end his ability to serve humanity by his example of what Kingdom citizenship looks like.

    Something like that.

  8. Mary Beth El-Shafie says:

    Mark 7
    27″First let the children eat all they want,” he told her, “for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

    28″Yes, Lord,” she replied, “but even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.”

    29Then he told her, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.”

    Don’t think I understand this…?

    Mark 11:12-14
    Why did Jesus curse the fig tree? It struck me as odd, like a human moment of frustration: “Take that, fig tree!”, but then he obviously uses it as a symbol/example of faith to the disciples in v. 20-23…

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