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The book of Mark is about the life of Jesus. The earliest reliable traditions attribute this writing to a man named John Mark. He designed the book to address specific questions about Jesus and if he was the messiah. The messiah was a royal figure that Israel was expecting to set up a kingdom on earth. At this time, Israel was occupied by Rome and the hope was that the messiah was going to come to overthrow the Roman government.

However, this did not happen. In fact Jesus was killed. Mark is addressing the issue of whether Jesus was the messiah that was expected. In the first half of the book, he addresses who Jesus really is. The second half is how Jesus became the messianic king. In the middle there is a pivotal story that answers both of these questions and ties them together.

The book starts by stating that it is about “the good news about Jesus, the Son of God”.  The first story is about Jesus being baptized and a voice from heaven saying “this is my son”.  So Jesus is presented right away at the messiah. Jesus goes about healing people but keeps telling them to keep quiet about who he is.  Lots of Jews had different expectations for the messiah and Jesus didn’t want people to misunderstand what it means for him to be Israel’s messiah.

At this point, Mark records a pivotal story. Jesus asks his disciples, “who do you say that I am?”. Peter answers correctly and says that Jesus is the messiah. Jesus goes on to explain how he is going to be the messianic king but that it will not be in the way they expect. He tells them that he is going to suffer and to die. That he is going to rule by being a servant. He tells them the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Peter does not like this and tells Jesus that this cannot be. Jesus rebukes Peter and makes the statement “get behind me Satan”. Although this seems like a strong statement, it shows how important it was to Jesus that his disciples understand who he really is and what he came to do.

The second half of the book documents Jesus going to Jerusalem.  Here he gets arrested, is mocked, beaten and hung on a cross to die.  A Roman soldier at the crucifixion acknowledges that Jesus really was the messiah and becomes one of the first to put this all together.  The third day after Jesus was crucified, some women went to the tomb where Jesus was buried.  They find it empty but an angel appears and tells them that they need to go and tell the good news that Jesus is alive from the dead.  The story ends abruptly here without the women telling the good news.  Mark, as a brilliant storyteller,  may have been acknowledging how startling this claim really is and wants the reader to wrestle with this for themselves. Is this crucified Jesus really the messiah that they have been waiting for?

[Related: Chapter a Day Bible Reading Plan]

Discussion Questions:

  1. Watch the video together or invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this video? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Read Mark 10:45 Discuss the implications of this verse.  How is Jesus a ransom for many?
  4. Would others describe you as a servant, why or why not?
  5. How would you answer the question that Jesus asked his disciples, “who do you say that I am”?
  6. Why do you think it was a Roman soldier who was one of the first to understand that Jesus really was the Son of God? What may have prevented others from seeing it?
  7. How would you define the “good news” of the gospel?
  8. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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