As we get ready to preach through Mark, here is a helpful overview of his gospel.
Mark records in sixteen chapters “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). This opening verse introduces major themes in the book―Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God.
After introducing the beginnings of Jesus by speaking of John the Baptist, Jesus’ baptism, and Jesus’ temptation (Mark 1:1–13), Mark gives a summary statement of what we find Jesus doing throughout the book: “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God” (Mark 1:14–15).
Beginning with the call of four disciples (Mark 1:16–20), Mark records Jesus’ initial ministry in Galilee (Mark 1:16–3:6) and then summarizes by noting the region’s reaction to Him―people swarming to Him from all directions to be healed from disease and demons (Mark 3:7–12). Beginning his next section with the appointment of the twelve apostles (Mark 3:13–19), Mark then records Jesus’ continuing ministry in Galilee (Mark 3:20–5:43). Through the miracles and teaching of Jesus, both sections show Jesus to be the Christ and Son of God.
After coming back to his hometown Nazareth (Mark 6:1–6), Mark again begins with a focus on Jesus’ disciples and records the continuing ministry of Jesus (Mark 6:7–8:26). The disciples see, but not clearly, that Jesus is the Christ (Mark 8:27–30; cf. 8:22–26), a climactic confession that comes almost exactly halfway through Mark’s gospel. As Jesus continues to travel and teach to Galilee and the surrounding regions (Mark 8:27–10:52), Mark emphasizes through Jesus’ words that being a disciple of Jesus means understanding who He is (cf. Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:32–34) and losing one’s life by giving it away to live for Him (Mark 8:34–38; 9:35–37; 10:42–45).
Opposition mounts against Jesus as he teaches in Jerusalem (Mark 11:1–13:37), which leads to the record of events two days before His death (Mark 14:1–72), including the Jewish leadership’s rejection of Jesus’ claim to be the Christ and Son of God (Mark 14:61–64). After His trial before Pilate, Jesus is crucified and buried (Mark 15:1–47). Just after Jesus’ death, a Roman centurion confesses what Mark desired all his Roman readers to confess: “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39). The book ends by leaving the reader to wonder with the women at the emptiness of Jesus’ tomb after His resurrection (Mark 16:1–8).
As one can see, two dominant themes in Mark are who Jesus is (the Christ and the Son of God) and the cost that comes with being His disciple (suffering). As we study Mark together, may God help us to truly understand Jesus and genuinely follow Him.
-This outline of Mark more or less follows pp. 169–72 in D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo’s An Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005).
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