Hervey Bay Presbyterian Church

What the Gospel of Mark teaches me about Jesus Christ, the son of God

 (Summary of the the fist nine chapters of the Gospel of Mark)

A Gospel Presentation

Thanks for asking me about what I believe about Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the Son of God

Mark, who wrote a book in the Bible, understand from the last book in our Old Testament that someone like the prophet Elijah would introduce the ministry of promised anointed servant of God.  Mark tells that John the Baptist was that person.  People came to him where he was baptising in the Jordan River and he told them about the Christ who was about to begin his ministry.

In fact, one day Jesus appeared and demanded that John baptise Him.  At that point, the heavens opened.  The Holy Spirit descended like a dove upon Christ, and from heaven God said, “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

So, what Mark wrote down in his Gospel, was about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus Christ has authority over Satan

Jesus Christ, because He is God, had power of the evil spirits.  In fact, the Bible tells us that even these spirits knew that He came to destroy them.  Man’s first and foremost enemy, the Devil, lost his power when Jesus came into the world.  The religious leaders at one stage accused Christ of acting in the power of Satan.  This of course was an absurd accusation, because it would mean that Christ was using satanic powers to destroy Satan!  No, He was stronger than Satan, and He came to bind him.

All of us are born in sin, and we are in the grip of Satan, but good news is that he has no power before Christ.

Jesus Christ has authority to forgive sins

Jesus performed many miracles, but his teaching was like something people had never heard before.  He loved to teach about “The Kingdom of God.”  Indeed, in Himself God’s Kingdom has come close. His teaching was the culmination of everything we read about in the Old Testament.

Everything Jesus did was for the benefit of those who were in the grip of sin.  His ministry was a ministry of compassion.  He healed the sick, but most importantly, He had the authority to forgive sins.  This is particularly important, because his life and sacrifice are the basis for our forgiveness and acceptance as children of God.

Of course the religious leaders of the day did not believe in Christ, and opposed Him in every way.  They thought their own good works were enough to be righteous – almost like buying one’s way into heaven by doing good works.  But Christ opposed them, because sinful man is not capable of being good enough for heaven.  It was these religious leaders who in the end handed Christ over to be crucified.

Jesus Christ gives eternal rest

One of the clashes Jesus had with the Jewish leaders was over doing good on the Sabbath.  When Christ told them that He was lord (or the owner) of the Sabbath, they openly started planning to kill Him.  What they however did not understand, was their that understanding of the Sabbath (and in fact the whole Law) was not what God intended with it.  From the beginning this day pointed forward to someone who would give eternal rest, and this Person was Jesus Christ. But when He came, they rejected Him and wanted to kill Him.

Jesus Christ calls people to follow Him

Christ called people to follow Him as his students (in those days they were known as disciples).  Twelve of them He made his special representatives.  They needed to be trained specially to carry on the work of the Lord when He left them to go back to the Father in heaven.

The training of the disciples was intense.  They followed Christ, heard Him teach the crowds, they saw Him performed miracles, and were even sent out into the villages with the authority to heal the sick and drive our demons.

To bring home the relationship between Him and them – and of course their relationship with the Father in heaven – He taught them that those who do the will of his Father in heaven are his brothers and his sisters.  obedient submission to his command to be fishers of men, their faith in them, and them doing his will, were the signs of them being brought into the family of the heavenly Father.  It is still the same today: not every one who merely say they know Him are his children – they who are faithfully following Him, as worshipping him as the Son of God, they are the family of God.

Jesus Christ tasked his people to proclaim the Kingdom

It is Gods design that his disciples do his will by being like sowers, scattering the seed.  He gave them the Word to sow like the farmer sows his crop.  The message of Christ must be heard; it is like a lamp on a lampstand giving light to those who have not heard about Christ.

Some people will reject the message, others will accept the message, but will fall away.  But there will be others who will be a fruitful crop.  Indeed, the Kingdom of God is powerful and will grow like a mustard seed: from an insignificant beginning to a large tree.

The disciples are of no significance: they cannot make the seed grow, and they will not be held accountable for the size of the crop.  What they need to do is to be careful that the message they have heard, is indeed the message they proclaim. In the end, they are not different from a farmer sowing the crop, and then rest assured that there will be something to harvest, although he does not need to understand how the seed actually grow to full maturity.

What I am telling you now about Jesus Christ is sowing the seed of the Gospel.  I pray that you will heard the message about Christ, that you will believe in Him, and that you will confess your sin to Him who will forgive you and make you one of his family.  In faith I will leave it to God to give effect to the Gospel.

Jesus Christ provides for the task of his people

You know, the world-wide task of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is sometimes a daunting task.  I must admit, it is like being in a small boat on the open sea with the waves raging.  But, as his disciple, I know that He is with me; his peace calms the storm.

Telling about Christ and spreading his Gospel is like handing out food to the hungry.  The task is far beyond our capability.  But I understand from the Bible that God will always provide what we need to fulfil his purposes.  There was that time when thousands of people needed to be fed.  That day He commanded that his disciples feed the crowd.  The disciples had only two fish and five loaves, but Christ multiplied that to feed the multitude.  Insignificant sowers we might be, but our Lord provides what we need to do his work. We still need to feed with the Word those in need for salvation.

Jesus Christ makes faith possible

You wanted to know about Jesus Christ?  What Mark states right at the beginning of his Gospel is true:  Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God.  At first even the disciples did not fully understand this, but God revealed it to them.  Not only did the people heard the voice of God when John baptised Him in the Jordan, but there was another time when Jesus and some of his disciples went up onto a mountain.  There they heard the same voice – and the message was the same.

Right from the beginning of the history, the Bible teaches that God wants to have a relationship with man.  However, Adam and Eve sinned against God and that relationship was broken.  The only way man could then enjoy a relationship with God was through the life and blood of an innocent victim (God ordained that specific animals be slaughtered on specific days, and then in specific ways.)

All along these things pointed to a time that no sacrifice would be necessary to have a relationship with God.  He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, was the perfect sacrifice.  He made redundant all sacrifices by being the last and final High Priest as well the final sacrifice.  After Him there was no more shedding of blood, altars, a tabernacle, or even a temple needed.  His blood was a complete sacrifice to gain righteousness before God.

Christ was also the last of the kings.  All others before Him were forerunners, but lacked perfect obedience.  In a very special way the promises made to king David was fulfilled in Jesus.

Christ was also the last of the prophets to declare the great plan of redemption.  Where the prophets of the Old Testament failed, He succeeded.

What I know and believe about Jesus Christ

So, what do I believe about Jesus Christ?

  • He is the son of God
  • He has power over the evil one
  • He forgives sin, and He has compassion on those who don’t know Him.
  • For reasons I don’t understand He called me to be a disciple and made me part of his family.
  • With others who believe and follow Him I strive to do his will.
  • We tell of his love and forgiveness, knowing that He will give eternal life to those whom He wants to hear.
  • He provides in all our needs to be fishers of men.
Over to you

Now that you know who He is and what He is doing, will you respond to his call to make you his family?  I trust you will.  I will pray for you.



Mark – Who do you say I am?

Mark – Who do you say I am?

Read Mark 8:27-9:17

The lesson Jesus taught the disciples (as we saw in our last study) was to trust Him fully.  Their ears at first failed to hear, and their eyes failed to see (Mark 8:18).  The healing of the blind man at Bethsiada was a real miracle which happened to a real person in a real place, but the way his sight was restored – gradually – serves as a hinge to the next paragraph.

This meeting with the disciples were in private.  They were surrounded by the majestic mountains and spectacular scenery.

On the way Jesus asked a preliminary question – about the “people’s” opinion about Him.  He was not fishing for complements or ego-booster replies.  He wanted to know if they understood where He originated, and what his mission was.

1.  Read Mark 6:15-16 and Mark 8:28.  What is common thread in these opinions about who Jesus was?


2.  It was important for those chosen by our Lord to proclaim his Gospel to the ends of the earth to know who they represent.  What was their reply? (It seems Peter was their spokes-person)


The Greek expresses their reply stronger than the English.  “You, you are the Christ.”


“Just as ‘thou’ denotes one person and only one, so “the Christ” is one and only one, and ‘thou’ and ‘the Christ’ are identical, and either may be used as the subject or as the predicate. These linguistic points are quite essential.  (Lenski, R. C. H. [1961]. The Interpretation of St. Mark’s Gospel (p. 336). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House)

The title “Christ”, when used as a verb, denotes anointing with oil.  “Christ” then refers to the anointed One – and according to the use of the word in the Old Testament, a royal anointing. The recipient receive honour.  In the Old Testament there was an expectation of an anointed King who had to be born.  He was referred to as the Messiah – the Hebrew word for Anointed (king of Jahweh).

We looked at the meaning of the statute of Daniel and the 400 years of silence between the Testaments.  During that time there was a building expectation for the arrival of the Messiah King.

3.  Read Daniel 7:13-14.  Who was “the son of man” who approached the Ancient of Days? What did He receive from the Ancient of Days, and how long will his kingdom be?


4.  Daniel 9:25-26 makes mention of the Anointed One (Messiah), who ultimately refers to Jesus Christ “who will be cut off”, and another ruler who will destroy the city and desecrate the temple.


5.  Read Mark 1:1 and 10-11.  With the explanation above, how does Jesus fit the description of the Messiah King?


Peter still had much to learn of Messiah’s suffering, rejection, and death, as the immediately following incident reveals.

6.  Read Mark 8:31-32.  What was the true mission of the Messiah King?  Did Peter understand it?


7.  Read Mark 8:35-38.  What does the life of a true disciple look like?


Jesus took three of his closest disciples Peter, James and John with Him further up the mountain.  What they saw was surely not what they expected. “Jesus ‘changed into that of a heavenly being in the transfigured world.’”

8.  Read Mark 9:7.  For a second time (first in 1:11-12) , God from heaven confirms to the disciples who Jesus was.  Now that they know who He was, what must they do?


The last verse answers the question of Jesus to his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” with an emphatic display of his Deity:  The dazzling Son of Man, the promised Messiah King. (See also Revelation 1:12-16).

Mark – How many loaves to you have?

Mark – How many loaves to you have?

(We are not trying to answer all the questions in Mark.  But before we move on to the next study it is important to remark something on two more questions:

1.  Mark 4:38:  The disciples asked Jesus: “Teacher, don’t You care if we drown?”  This question follows the description of the task Jesus gave to the disciples of sowing the Word.  Our Lord follows their question up with: “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?” (verse 41). Christ performed a real miracle by calming the storm.  But perhaps this episode is included here to describe the helplessness and fear of the disciples as they faced their task.  Our Lord has power to calm the storm!

2.  Mark 5:39:  “Why all this commotion and wailing?”  A question followed by the statement, “The child is not dead but asleep.”  This was a real miracle and the little girl was indeed brought back to life, but perhaps this episode was included here for the disciples to understand that the last enemy they might face has no power against Him who sent them into the world to proclaim the mysteries of God.  See Mark 6:7-12, and 14-29, which records the death of John the Baptist.)

Read Mark 6:30-44 and 8:1-21.

A common line in the Gospel of Mark is his description of large crowds following Christ.  As a matter of fact, every new development in the ministry of Jesus begins with a large crowd gathered.


1. Read Mark 6:34.  What was the reaction of our Lord when He saw the large crowd?


2. What was the first thing He did meeting the crowd (see verse 34). Why?


3. Read Mark 6:36.  The disciples saw a resolution to the problem.  What was it?  Would we do any different?


4. Jesus responded in a remarkable way.  “You give them something to eat.”  Was this a unreasonable command?


One can only wonder what the disciples thought when Jesus took the loaves and two fish in his hands, facing the multitude.

5. Read Mark 6:41.  How do you understand this prayer?  Was it the prayer which caused the bread and fish to multiply? Was it a prayer of thanksgiving to the heavenly Father?  Or was it perhaps it was to teach the disciples something?  What?


6. What do you think God wanted his disciples to learn from his command, “You give them something to eat” and his question, “How many loaves to do you have?


7.  There a few important things presented to us in this paragraph:

  • How should we look at those around us who “are like sheep without a shepherd.” (verse 34)


  • What is it that people need most?  (verse 34 – see also previous study:  what is the seed which grows into a harvest?)


  • Read Mark 8:11-15.  Our task is not to pray for miracles to feed the lost.  Our Lord is not a miracle-worker in the fist place.  What danger does the asking for miracles harbour?


Jesus (in Mark 8:18) uses a phrase we heard in our previous study, “ … eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear.” They disciples still did “not understand” that Christ would provide in all their needs to fulfil their calling “… that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach.” (Mark 3:14, NIV)

  • There will always be more than enough for those who trust the Lord Jesus who is the Lord of the harvest.

“All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:28–29, NIV) 

  • The work of the church is to faithfully sow the seed and wait for God to provide the harvest – all along He will provide the needs for his church to continue with their mission.

Mark – What parable shall describe the Kingdom of God?

Mark – What parable shall describe the Kingdom of God?

Read Mark 4:1-34

It is not before Mark 3:23 that Mark introduced a parable of Jesus Christ.  The purpose of the parables in Mark 4:1-34 is to teach us about the purpose of Gospel and how it brings about growth. (See text box below.)

Mark 4 once again opens with the main purpose of the ministry of Jesus:  teaching!  The NIV uses different expressions:

  • The activity of teaching occurs 5 times (4:1-2 [twice] and 4:33-34.
  • “He said” which occurs 5 times (verses 9, 13, 21, 26, 30).
  • “He told” (v. 11) and “spoke” (v. 33) and “explained” (v. 34)

What He taught, said and explained was meant to be heard.  The words “listen”and “hear” occurs 10 times; included are the concepts of understanding (x2), perceiving and meaning.

1.  With these key words of the passage in mind, explain in your own words our task of evangelism and mission


2.  Read Mark 4:24.  What is the command of Christ?  How would you describe “careful” in this verse?



To the crowd the parable about the sower was just a story. But Christ is preparing The Twelve and others around him (verse 10) for their mission.   He called them to be sowers of the seed.

3.  Read Mark 4:11, Romans 16:25 and Ephesians 3:3, 9.  What is the “secret of the Kingdom of God”?

4.  Read Matthew 13:18, Mark 4:15-17, Luke 8:11.  What is the seed?

5.  Read Mark 4:12 and Isaiah 6:9-10.  Did/will all people who hear the Word about the Kingdom of God respond and be saved?

6.  According to the parable of the sower who is represented by the different kinds of soil?  Why did the seed in three kinds of soil not bear fruit?

7.  Read Mark 4:21.  Jesus asked his disciples: “Is a lamp brought in to be put under a basket, or under a bed, and not on a stand?” How do understand this in the light of the sowers and the seed (or the disciples and the Word?)


8.  Read Mark 4:24-25 and Matthew 25:14-28.  What does Jesus teach about the sowers and their responsibility?


The way the disciples hear and understand the Gospel will have an impact on how they will be able to sow the seed of the Gospel.  That is why they need to be careful what (how) they hear.  Whoever is not careful in this aspect will be judged:  those disciples who are careless in listening to the demands and privileges of the Gospel, will in the end find that God will judge them for their carelessness in the task of sowing.  This is strongly linked to the meaning of the parable of Luke 19:11-27 – the parable of the pounds.

9.  Read Mark 4:26-29.  What comfort does our Lord give to his disciples regarding their task of scattering the Gospel?


10.  Read Mark 4:20, 31-32.  Not all people who hear the Gospel will respond in true faith. Does it mean there will only be a small harvest?



Parables are “expressions which are not to be understood literally, but symbolically or figuratively.”  Parables differ from allegories.  A parable usually does not convey more than one or two truths by telling a story, while an allegory usually conveys a symbolic meaning through every point mentioned in the story.

If the parable of the sons (Luke 15:11-32) would be interpreted as an allegory, the son, inheritance, distant land, famine, pigs, the empty stomach, and the pods – all of them – would need to have a meaning.  Because it is a parable we look at the main points: the son’s rebellion and the Father’s forgiveness (all other aspects serve these main points, shedding more light on it.)

Mark – Who are my brothers?

Mark – Who are my brothers?

Read Mark 3:13-35

The paragraph of verses 13-19 tells of the people our Lord called to be his apostles.  This happened on a mountainside (where the Sermon on the Mount was preached?) – it was done publicly, not in secret. Not all of the original manuscripts of the Greek text includes the phrase “designating them apostles” (verse 14), but the most reliable ones do.

All apostles are disciples, but not all disciples are apostles.  “The Twelve” became know as the smaller group of disciples who would continue the work of Christ in the first few years after Jesus ascended to heaven.

1.  Read Mark 3:14.  What were the apostles called for?


2. Who was mentioned last in the last.  Why?  Was he the black sheep?



The narrative then takes us to a scene at a house.  Jesus and his disciples had come some distance, were hungry from their travels, and would like to have eaten something. The crowd made this impossible.

Matthew (9:32-34) and Luke (11:14-15) mentions how Jesus healed demon-possessed people.  They accused Him of healing people by the power of the prince of demons, Beelzebub.  This could be the reason why many gathered at the house.  Then some close relatives appears on the scene.  Their intention was to forcibly (in Greek:  to exercise power with force) remove him from the scene.

3. Read Mark 3:21.  What did they think of Jesus? Was He their black sheep?

4.  Read John 7:1-5. Discuss:  “Faith makes all the difference.” (Think:  before faith, and after faith)

5. Read Mark 3:22. The teachers of the law had another take.  How did they sum up the situation?



Can Satan drive out Satan? Can Satan oppose himself? A house divided cannot stand. Christ cannot be Satan, and those who say so commit the unforgivable sin.

6. Read Mark 3:27.  What do you think this verse is telling us about Jesus?



The news of what had happened reached the mother and brothers of our Lord.

7. Read Mark 3:31.  Why do you think they were they standing outside.  And why did they send someone to call Jesus?


8. Read Mark 3:33 and 34.  Who are the real family of Jesus?

9.  Read Matthew 7:21-23.  Is Jesus referring to his real “family” in these verses?  Why?



Up to this point in our study we have learned:

  • Who Jesus really is:  the Son of God
  • That He came to destroy the power of Satan
  • That He preached the Word with the authority He received from the Father
  • That He has the authority to forgive sins, because He is God
  • That He came to show mercy and love to sinners and so fulfilled the Law
  • That He calls sinners to do his will: some to a special office, others do be his disciples.
  • Those who do the will of the Father are the real family of Christ.


Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

The Pharisees had long observed the sinless Jesus Christ. They observed Him doing undeniable and powerful miracles that were, at the very least, clear evidence of power supplied by God. These impressive miracles were freely given in pure kindness and love to release people from obvious suffering and the oppression of horrible evil.

However, the Pharisees had so firmly set their hearts against accepting Jesus as the Messiah that they rejected the obvious truth before them and perversely twisted it to influence the crowds. They publicly credited the most ultimately evil being in the universe with these precious, godly miracles. In other words, they called the precious and holy Spirit of God, the unclean spirit of Satan. In effect, they charged Jesus Christ with sorcery; one who is in league with Satan. These charges are not only appalling and extremely serious, but clearly absurd. Thus, speaking against the Holy Spirit is equivalent to rejecting Christ with such finality that no future repentance is possible.

The situation was similar in city of Capernaum, where Jesus Christ performed an extraordinary number of miracles and taught many important public lessons. In the end, most of the people of Capernaum remained unrepentant. Like the Pharisees, they persistently rejected the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit who bore witness to the true identity of Jesus Christ, their Messiah. They turned away from the abundant light graciously provided to them, and chose to remain forever in their unbelief. They persistently refused to listen to anything the Holy Spirit was telling them. Like the Pharisees, they chose self-imposed blindness. For this reason, they were strongly judged. Capernaum received a very stern warning from Jesus, “It shall be more bearable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you” (Matt. 11:21-24).

It is clear that anyone who believes he or she has committed “the unforgivable sin” could not have done so; a troubled conscience and that kind of sin could never coexist. The fact that a person feels remorse proves that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has not yet been committed.

Mark – Why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?

Mark – Why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?

Read Mark 2:18-3-6

It is clear that the Scribes and the Pharisees found much of Jesus’ ministry upsetting.  Much of what Mark recorded happened on a Sabbath – a day to which the Pharisees added extra laws to make sure it was kept holy. Even the next acts of Jesus – the healing of the man with a shrivelled hand (3:1-5) happened on a Sabbath.

Some interpreters of Jewish law prohibited any deliberative activity, or an activity that exercises control or dominion over one’s environment.  These included 39 categories of activities, e.g. plowing, tanning of leather, spinning or weaving, separating two threads, washing wool, writing two or more letters, erasing more two or more letters, travelling more than a Sabbaths journey (which was about 3,100 feet or 915 meters).

1.  Read verse 23:  What, in the eyes of the Pharisees, did Jesus and the disciples do to break the Sabbath law?  Were they reaping the harvest?

  A quote from 1Maccabeus illustrates the point clearly.  (See also the first chapter of this study: Introduction, Greeks, 1.2-1.3) .

At that time many who were seeking righteousness and justice went down to the wilderness to live there, 30 they, their sons, their wives, and their livestock, because troubles pressed heavily upon them. 31 And it was reported to the king’s officers, and to the troops in Jerusalem the city of David, that those who had rejected the king’s command had gone down to the hiding places in the wilderness. 32 Many pursued them, and overtook them; they encamped opposite them and prepared for battle against them on the sabbath day. 33 They said to them, “Enough of this! Come out and do what the king commands, and you will live.” 34 But they said, “We will not come out, nor will we do what the king commands and so profane the sabbath day.” 35 Then the enemy quickly attacked them. 36 But they did not answer them or hurl a stone at them or block up their hiding places, 37 for they said, “Let us all die in our innocence; heaven and earth testify for us that you are killing us unjustly.” 38 So they attacked them on the sabbath, and they died, with their wives and children and livestock, to the number of a thousand persons. (1 Mac 2:29–38).



2.  Read Deuteronomy 23:25.  Is what Jesus and the disciples did on the Sabbath Day against the law?


The Pharisees were only too happy to have found a clear case against Jesus.  It is not that the disciples were excusable; it is that Jesus is to blame for the conduct of these disciples.  But what they based their charge on was not the Law of God, but the interpretation they themselves added to it.

Jesus asked them about David and eating the showbread.

3.  Read 1 Samuel 21:6.  The showbread consisted of twelve baked cakes, made of fine flour.  These were set in two rows, six to a row on the table in the Holy Place. It was the duty of the priest each sabbath day to place fresh or hot bread on the table (1 Sa. 21:6). Only the high priest could eat the “old” bread.



Like the priests referred to in these verses, ministers today “work” on the (Christian) Sabbath, but they surely do not trespass the law! The Law must always be interpreted in terms of the intention of the Lawgiver: to promote the relationship of His covenant partners with Him, the Covenant Maker.  This fact was completely missed by the Pharisees who, through legalism, sought justification of themselves, and in the process did evil, did not save, and in fact would as such be guilty of “killing” (see next). 

4.  Read Mark 3:4.  What is the point that our Lord wanted to make about deeds (or as the Pharisees saw it: work) on a Sabbath?



When desperate David and his men ate of the showbread not designated for them; the letter of the Law might have been trespassed, but not the spirit.

To Jesus the Sabbath was not created for its own sake; it was a gift of God to man. Its purpose was not to put man in a kind of straight jacket. It was for his good—to provide rest from labor and opportunity for worship.


5.  Read Mark 2:28.  The pharisees thought they could teach Jesus about the Sabbath, but what did they have to learn about Him?

6.  Read Mark 2:28 again.  What does “Lord of the Sabbath mean?

7.  Read Mark 3:4.  Why do you think the Pharisees remain silent on the question of Christ?


8.  How did the healing of the man with the shrivelled hand fit into the ministry of Jesus, the Son of God?

9.  Did Jesus do what was “unlawful” on the Sabbath, or did He give full meaning to the Sabbath.

10.  How should the church, as disciples of Christ, regard the Sabbath?



Mark’s Gospel teaches us that

  • Christ is the Son of God
  • He has come with the authority of his Father
  • He came to destroy the power of Satan
  • He has the power to forgive sin
  • He came to fulfil the Law, being more and greater than Moses and David

Mark – Who can forgive sins but God alone?

Mark – Who can forgive sins but God alone?

Read Mark 2:1-17


Many houses in old Israel had two storeys.  Upper rooms were reached by stairs or ladders. These rooms provided the main living and sleeping accommodation and guests could also be looked after there.

Roofs were constructed from beams covered with branches and a thick layer of mud plaster, though the rafters were sometimes supported by a row of pillars along the middle of the room. Roofs ofter needed to be re-plastered annually prior to the rainy season to seal cracks which had developed during the summer heat. The family would often sleep on the roof in summer or use it to dry raisins, figs, flax, etc., in the sun.

A parapet was to be built as a safety precaution according to Dt. 22:8. Vaulted roofs were certainly in use in Palestine by the Persian period, while the tiled roof also appeared before NT times. The rooftop was also a place of worship, either for Baal and especially the host of heaven.


1. Read Mark 2:2.  What was Jesus doing before this episode took place?


2. Is there any significance in the fact that the names of neither the sick man, nor his friends are mentioned in this paragraph?  Why do you think the evangelist omitted the specifics?

3.  Is there any connection between the preaching of Jesus and the forgiveness of sin?

4.  Your translation of the Bible might have a heading to this paragraph in the Bible.  What is it?

5.  What is this story primarily about:  the healing of the paralytic, or the authority of Jesus to forgive sin?

6.  Our Lord called the paralytic “Son” (or “Child”).  This surely tells us something.  How do you see it?

7.  Read verse 6.  The teachers of the law, at the point before the man was healed, thought Jesus was a blasphemer.   Why?

8.  Blasphemy is a verbal insult uttered intentionally and malevolently against God, revealing the offender’s contempt for Him.  Why do you think Jesus did not blaspheme against God?

9.  Sin can only be forgiven by the One who is sinned against.  If this is the case, how do we apply what we learned about who Jesus is in our previous study here?

10.  Look at the title of this chapter.  Why does Jesus eat with tax collectors and sinners?


Mark – Have You come to destroy us?

Mark – Have You come to destroy us?

The scene in this part of the Gospel of Mark is Capernaum, in the district of Galilee.

Read Isaiah 9:1-2 and Matthew 4:15-16.  What do these verse tell us about those living in Galilee?


Capernaum means “the house (or, town) of Nahum”; however, the identity of this Nahum is unknown. In New Testament times, Capernaum was a centre of commerce. Fishing and trade were important, and the town was a Roman tax polling station.  Capernaum was the home of Peter and became a kind of base of operations for Jesus’ Galilean ministry.

The lake on which Capernaum was built has four different names in the Bible:

  • Sea of Chinnereth (Num 34:11; Josh 12:3; 13:27)
  • Sea of Gennesaret (Luke 5:1; Josephus, Ant. 13)
  • Sea of Tiberias (John 6:1; 21:1)
  • Sea of Galilee (Matt 4:18)

Jesus performed the following miracles in Capernaum:

  • Healed Jairus’ Daughter (Matt 9:18–26; Mark 5:21–43; Luke 8:41–56)
  • Fed 5,000 people (Likely closer to Bethsaida, John 6)
  • Caught a miraculous amount of fish (John 21:4–14)
  • Healed a demon possessed man (Mark 1:21–28)
  • Healed Peter’s mother-in-law (Matt 8:14–15)
  • Healed a paralytic (Matt 9:2–8; Mark 2:1–12; Luke 5:17–20)
  • Healed the centurion’s servant (Matt 8:5–13; Luke 7:1–10)
  • Healed the woman with the issue of blood (Mark 5:21–43)

Synagogues, buildings for worship, originated during the time of the Exile as the result of Jews meeting together for prayer and the study of the Torah.  Worshipping in synagogues did not replace the major festivals during which Jews had to worship in the temple in Jerusalem.

Jesus preached according to the “freedom of the synagogue” – a Jewish custom that permitted recognised visiting teachers to preach (based on the reading from the Law or Prophets) in the synagogue by invitation of its leaders—to bring the Good News to his countrymen.


1.  Read verse 21:  What was the major purpose of Jesus going into the synagogue?


2.  Read verse 22:  What did those who attended the synagogue think of the teaching of Christ?  Where did Christ get his authority from?  Read John 8:28-29


3.  Read Mark1:23-24: The reading and the application of the Scriptures (Malachi 3:1-2, 4:5-6, Isaiah 40:1-3) had another response.  What was it? Read also verse 25.


4.  “What do you want with us?” indicates that the demons disassociated with and opposed Jesus. Make the question,“Have you come to destroy us?” statement; what does it mean?


5.  Read 1John 3:8.  What was the mission of Jesus Christ?


6.  Those who heard and saw what happened in the synagogue when Jesus preached and applied the Word of God, had another question.  What did they mean?

7.  Read Mark 1:27.7.  Discuss:  Do we need miracles to expose the works of Satan, or is it enough to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?

8.  Christ’s commission to his church is also included in these verse: Matt 28:18-19,  Mark 16:17-18,  Luke 24:47-49, Luke 16:31Hebrews 4:12, Romans 10:17, 1 Peter 1:23-25, 2Timothy 3:15-17  – what do these verses say about miracles?

Mark – the silent years between the Old and New Testament

Silent years

For about 400 years between the Old Testament and New Testaments God did not speak to the Jewish people through prophets, other than the prophecies given to Daniel, Zachariah, Malachi and others who still needed fulfilment.

The Babylonians came to power in 626B.C., and in 605B.C. at the battle of Carchimesh defeated Egypt. Some Israelites, including Daniel, were taken in exile to Babylon  the major exile started in 589 after Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.

The 400 years of silence began with the warning that closed the Old Testament:

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” (Malachi 4:5–6, NIV)

1.  Diaspora

Many Jews had returned from exile in 538 B.C. and were worshiping God in Jerusalem, but many more had stayed in Persia, and still others had settled in Egypt and elsewhere. This scattering of the Jewish population is called the “Diaspora.”

The people had not abandoned faith and hope. They knew the covenant promises of God to Abraham. In them was developing an expectation for the Messiah who would accomplish God’s saving purposes for His people and bring them the new Exodus they longed for.

The Persian Empire had given way to the whirlwind conquests of Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. who brought Greek culture, or “Hellenism,” to the places he conquered, including much of the Middle East. After this, the affairs of the Jewish people were largely determined by confrontation with Greek culture.

2. The Greek Empire

1.1  The Ptolemies 

Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C., and Palestine came under the rule of one of his Greek generals, Ptolemy, who also ruled Egypt. Apparently, the Jews retained considerable freedom to practice their religion as well as a measure of self-rule under their own high priest. The strictly religious office became an office which now included political affairs. At the same time the community felt increasing pressure to adopt Greek ways of life.

The Jewish colony in Alexandria, Egypt, seems to have flourished under the Ptolemies. The colony felt a direct need to teach Gentiles the history of the Hebrews. The translation of the Pentateuch (the Five Books of Moses) from Hebrew into Greek was completed late in the third century B.C. This work, along with the later translations of the other Old Testament books, is called the Septuagint.  The New Testament authors wrote in Greek, and they often used the Septuagint when quoting the Old Testament.

1.2 The Seleucids

Another of Alexander’s generals, Seleucus, became ruler of an empire that eventually extended from the modern Turkey to Babylon and beyond in the east. In 198 B.C. the Seleucid ruler Antiochus III was able to occupy Palestine.

In 175B.C.  Antiochus IV took charge and Judea entered one of the most difficult periods ever faced by any Hebrew community. In the meantime, the Roman Empire was building up, and in an attempt to strengthen and unify his empire, Antiochus stepped up the process of hellenising (making the Jews to adopts Greek culture) Palestine.

Some Jews welcomed this development and embraced the new culture, in effect rejecting their religious identity. Such apostasy strengthened the resolve of other Jews to resist the policies of Antiochus. He did not understand the character of Judaism, and unleashed the terrors of religious persecution. Copies of the Hebrew Scriptures were burned, observance of the Sabbath was prohibited, circumcision was outlawed—and violators were put to death. In 167 b.c., Antiochus desecrated the Jewish temple by setting up a statue of Zeus and sacrificing pigs to it.

“His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.” (Daniel 11:31, NIV)  See also 12:11, 9:27)

1.3  Maccabean Revolt

Shortly after this desecration, the Maccabean Revolt broke out. Under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus small bands of Jewish guerrilla fighters faced and repeatedly defeated large Seleucid armies. The Jews occupied Jerusalem and rededicated the Temple in 164 b.c. This event is still celebrated today in the Jewish feast of Hannukah.

1.4  The Hasmoneans 

Having tasted victory, the Jews were not happy with simply regaining the right to practice their religion. They fought to regain political freedom as well. After the death of Judas, his brothers Jonathan and Simon continued the war until 142, when Judea became independent and the Hasmonean dynasty was established. The name is derived from Hashmon, an ancestor of the Maccabees.

But the struggle with Hellenisation was not over. Even before independence, Jonathan Maccabeus had taken over the office of high priest, despite his not belonging to the proper family (the line of Zadok) and progressively adopted Greek ways of life.

(According to many scholars, it was this event that led a group of strict Jews to turn away from their nation and establish the community of Qumran, near the Dead Sea. This community gave us the the Dead Sea Scrolls, which discovered in 1947.)

Two major groups of Jewish rulers were born in this time.

  • The Sadducees, an aristocratic group that sought to preserve political stability. They acknowledged only the Pentateuch as fully authoritative and on those grounds resisted the doctrine of the resurrection.
  • The Pharisees protested the impact of Geek culture in Jewish life and sought to preserve the purity regulations of Judaism. By means of their interpretations of the law, however, they altered many of the biblical requirements and helped foster the illusion that people could please God by their own efforts.

3.  The Romans

In 63 B.C., the Roman general Pompey occupied Jerusalem. Continuing unrest led the Romans to make Herod the king of Judea. He was from the line of Esau (Edomite), but also a Jewish proselyte. He ruled from 37 B.C. until his death in 4 B.C.

Herod was obedient to Rome and ruled efficiently. He rebuilt of the temple in Jerusalem, an ambitious venture that began in 20 B.C. and continued until long after his death.

As the New Testament story begins, the Jews are subjected to a foreign power, ruled by an able but despotic figure, and still waiting for a salvation yet unfulfilled.

This period ended with the coming of John the Baptist, the Messiah’s forerunner.


1.  Read Malachi 4:1-6, Luke 3:1-9 and 15-18, and Mark 1:1-8.  After 400 years of silence God speaks again through a prophet, John the Baptist.  How does the message of new prophet connect back to God’s promise in Malachi?  Look for recurring themes.  See also Isaiah 41:18–19; 43:19–21; 44:3–4.


2.  What does Malachi 4:2 say about “the day” – which Mark saw was fulfilled in Jesus Christ?


3.  Look at Mark 1:1 again.  Who is Mark’s gospel about?


4.  According to Mark 1:10-11 what confirmation did all at the scene of John’s ministry get about Jesus? Do you think one can connect the “good news” of verse 14 with these verses?  See also Luke 2:10-14.


5.  Read Mark 1:14.  What was the main theme of the message of Jesus Christ?