As part of the ReMarkAble series at First Baptist Church, I will be releasing weekly posts with my notes for those who are using the Studying the Gospels Together (STGT) method in their Adult Community Group. You can read more about the STGT Method here and how this site is integrating the ReMarkAble series here.
The opening chapter to Mark’s gospel is fast paced and loaded with details and activity. Unlike Matthew or Luke, Mark does not spend time sharing the birth story of Jesus. There are some brief introductory remarks regarding John the Baptist, Jesus’ baptism and his subsequent temptation in the wilderness. The brevity of those portions does not minimize their importance in any way, but it does move us quickly into the activity of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus preaches, teaches, heals, casts out demons and calls disciples all within this first chapter. As we will see in future chapters, these five things are the primary way Jesus conducts his ministry, and they will be repeated over and over again. Jesus will continue to preach, teach, heal, cast out demons and interact with his disciples.
Things to Note
In the STGT Method, we begin by noting five different activities of Jesus.
(1:35) Throughout Mark, Jesus will often step away from people and ministry to spend time praying. Here, we see Jesus depart and go to a desolate place to pray. After beginning his ministry, it is important for Jesus to spend time in prayer. This time of prayer also preempts his decision to move onto other towns as his next step of public ministry.
(W) Reads or references God’s Word
(1:21) Mark does explicitly mention Jesus reading Gods Word, but when he is teaching in the synagogue, it is likely that Jesus is reading from portions of the Scriptures.
(F) Relates to God the Father
(1:11) At Jesus’ baptism, we hear the voice of God coming from heaven, stating that Jesus is God’s beloved son, and in Jesus he is “well pleased.” This is a declarative statement about Jesus' relationship with God the Father and also about who Jesus is as he begins his ministry.
(HS) Relates to the Holy Spirit
(1:10) Also at Jesus’ baptism, the Holy Spirit is present, and He descends on Jesus “like a dove.”
(R) Overflows in loving relationship with people
This will be the most common category we see. Jesus is constantly interacting with people through his teaching, preaching, healing, casting out demons, or discipleship. I will not list all possible ways that this is seen in this chapter, but only mention a few.
(1:17) Jesus calls his first disciples. Jesus’ invitation for people to follow him is important to note.
(1:21-28) Jesus casts out a demon, and people respond by recognizing his new “teaching with authority.” The clear command Jesus has over these unclean spirits, says something about who has come in their midst.
(1:38) Jesus gives us an indication of why he has come. He says, that he wants to go onto other towns to preach, “for that is why I came out.” Jesus will bring healing and freedom from demons, but Jesus also brings a new teaching that he wants people to hear.
Questions for Reflection
What does this passage tell us about who Jesus is?
There are numerous ways we could answer this question. Most importantly, this passage is a clear introduction to the fact that someone unlike anyone else who has walked the earth has come. Jesus has power over demons (1:25), he has a new teaching with authority (1:27), he can declare people clean (1:41), and so on. There is only one conclusion a person can come to when confronted with all the things we read about Jesus in this first chapter. Jesus is God.
What does this passage tell us about why Jesus came?
There are two things I would like to mention here. First, Jesus came in order to preach (1:38). The message he is preaching is that “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (1:15).” The kingdom of God is breaking into the world in the person of Jesus. He has come to bring a greater fulfillment to God’s kingdom. In response to Jesus’ coming, he is calling people to repent, turn from their former way of life, and believe in the gospel. Jesus has also come to call people to respond to him.
What does it say about what it means to follow Jesus?
First, if we are going to follow Jesus, he is calling us to repent and believe in the gospel. Jesus wants our lives to be shaped by kingdom priorities, not our own priorities. He wants every part of our lives to be impacted by the new reality Jesus has brought about. Further, Jesus also calls us to follow him, and invite more people to follow him as well (1:17).
Questions for Application
The questions for application will change with each person. I have given a few comments below about how we should think about answering them, but it will be highly dependent upon each individual person and how God is stirring in their hearts based on their own study and reflection.
In response to what you have read, what is one action step you believe God is calling you to make this week?
The answers to these questions are very subjective to the person answering them. Try to consider what it means to follow Jesus, and ask yourself what is one practical way you can respond to what you have read, learned and discussed.
What is one thing you learned this week you could share with someone else? Who do you plan to share it with?
This question is meant to simply help us learn how to share what we are learning from Jesus. We see in this chapter that Jesus wants his message to spread. When we follow him, we become conduit of that message. We do not need to feel the burden of sharing everything we know about Jesus in every conversation we have, but it can be more natural to share something we are learning. What is something you learned that you could share with someone else? Think about who you might want to share it with.