Studying the Gospels Together: Mark Fifteen & Sixteen

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.

Introductory Comments

We are in the final two chapters of Mark's gospel. We intentionally timed our series to end with Easter weekend. On Good Friday, we think upon the betrayal, trial and crucifixion of Jesus. On Easter, we celebrate that Jesus rose again. If you have been following this series in your group, then this will serve as the final Studying the Gospels Together from me. The last two chapters of Mark's gospel continue to communicate one of his primary themes - Jesus as suffering servant. There isn't extensive teaching in this chapter, and it is laser focused on Jesus' death and resurrection. Our primary reflection from these chapters should relate to how incredible Jesus is and how awesome his love is, that he would make such a significant sacrifice on our behalf - and then rise again. As Jesus' followers, we can never stop reflecting upon these great truths, and allowing them to shape who we are becoming.

Things to Note

In the STGT Method, we begin by noting five different activities of Jesus.

(P) Prayer

There is no specific reference to Jesus praying in this chapter.

 

(W) Reads or references God’s Word

Jesus' last words (Mk 15:34) The last words of Jesus, as recorded in Mark, are also found in Psalm 22:1, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Other gospel accounts include additional words that Jesus spoke - seven in all. These final sayings are collectively known as the seven last "words" of Jesus. Mark records one of those phrases. Each of the final "words" of Jesus communicate something different about what was happening on the cross, but for us, the words recorded by Mark point to the anguish Jesus experienced upon the cross. At the moment when Jesus exclaims these words, Jesus is experiencing the divine abandonment that was a result of the punishment for sin which he was bearing. With our human limitations, we cannot comprehend the anguish that would cause. The intimate relationship that Jesus had with the Father was being broken. It has been argued by many that this was a far more significant suffering than the physical suffering experienced by the ruthless and grotesque punishment of crucifixion. In order to express the pain he was feeling, Jesus uses the words a passage in the Psalms.

(F) Relates to God the Father

Jesus' last words are spoken to the Father. The commentary I would provide is all included in the previous notes.

(HS) Relates to the Holy Spirit

There is no specific reference to Jesus relating to The Holy Spirit in this chapter.

(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.

Jesus' death and resurrection: There is no more loving act in all of the gospels than Jesus' death and resurrection. In John's gospel, Jesus says that there is no greater loving act than to lay down your life for a friend (Jn 15:13). Jesus took upon himself the sins of the world. The innocent for the guilty. He became sin, who knew no sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him (2 Cor. 5:21). He did what we could not, and became what he was not, so that we could become what we are not. Jesus made a way. He made a way for anyone and everyone who would follow him. This is love.

Questions for Reflection

What does this passage tell us about who Jesus is?

Jesus is the suffering servant. The words of Isaiah 53 ring true in the crucifixion:

"Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isaiah 53:4-6 ESV)

You could read on in Isaiah 53, and continue to see imagery that points to the cross. Jesus is the fulfillment of that prophecy, and he is our suffering servant.

As we continue into chapter sixteen, he is not just our suffering servant, he is also the resurrection and the life. The grave does not keep him. The resurrection is an extremely important part of why we put our hope in Jesus. There is a lot of talk about the cross, but we must remember that Jesus is also victorious over sin, death and Satan because of the resurrection. Paul's most extensive teaching on the resurrection is found in 1 Corinthians 15, and would be great to read in preparation of your group time. In that chapter, Paul notes the historical validity of the resurrection and also the implications of the resurrection for those who follow Jesus.

What does this passage tell us about why Jesus came?

Jesus came to die on the cross and rise again. The fact that Mark devotes such a significant portion of his gospel narrative to these final events points to the importance of these final events. Jesus came to do many things leading up to the cross and resurrection, but this is the crucible moment of his earthly ministry. It is the crucible moment of all history.

What does it say about what it means to follow Jesus?

We need to make a decision about who Jesus is - and respond accordingly. What we believe about Jesus changes everything about our lives. Hopefully throughout this study you have gained a more clear and compelling understanding of Jesus. He is God. He is the Christ. He is majestic. He is the mighty messiah. He is king. He is also humble. He is a servant. He suffers. He dies. He rises again. If this is all true about Jesus, what does that mean for your life? Throughout the gospel, Jesus calls his followers to deny themselves, serve others, proclaim his good news and many other things. Are we being shaped by those commands? The fact that Jesus died for our sins and then rose again should change everything about who we are. We were more sinful than we could imagine. It required the death of God's Son. It required God's wrath to be poured out at the cross. The cost of our sin is more than we could imagine. Yet, we are more loved than we ever thought possible. Jesus did not go to the cross begrudgingly. He went willingly and Hebrews says he went with joy. We are more loved than we ever thought possible. This reality should change everything about our lives.

Questions for Application

In response to what you have read, what is one action step you believe God is calling you to make this week?

(1) Create a new rhythm in your life that will help you to keep your mind upon Jesus. We must always remind ourselves of who Jesus is, and then allow that to shape our lives.

(2) Like every chapter, there are a variety of applications that could be made. I would love to invite you to make comments regarding applications that you see for your own life. Please share with one another in the comments section below, and encourage one another as we seek to apply God's Word to our lives.

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.