Mark is the shortest gospel. It was written by Mark, also referred to as John Mark in Acts and the Epistles. Was Mark a disciple? He was not an eyewitness follower of Jesus, but was close to Peter, and wrote down Peter's account, but not necessarily in chronological order; he probably also used other sources. Although not an eyewitness, he has details only an eyewitness would know; he refers to Peter's words and deeds. When the angel let Peter out of prison, the house he went to was that of Mary, John Mark's mother, where believers were gathered to pray. At that time the church was still Jewish; John would be his Jewish name, Mark his Latin surname. Peter called him "my son." He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, but left for some reason; Paul and Barnabas later had a strong disagreement over this, and Barnabas took John Mark while Paul went another way and took Silas. But things changed, and later Paul felt differently about Mark, II Tim. 4:11.
Who is this gospel written to? Gentiles, Romans. How can we know that? Jewish customs are explained, some Latin terms are used rather than Greek, the Roman method of reckoning time is used, we see few Old Testament quotations. His simple, direct style of writing, his emphasis on action rather than teachings, would appeal to the practical man, the man of action. He often uses the words "and immediately" to show action. He presents Jesus as a servant rather than as a king. The Romans were conquerors, trying to bring peace to their world; Mark presented Jesus in a way that appealed to that kind of man. No genealogy--not important for a servant, but rather, what can he DO? The key verse of this Gospel is Mark 10:45.
1-3 Mark begins with a "beginning," but is it the "beginning" of Genesis 1 or John 1? Where do each of them begin? Where does Mark begin? Jesus Christ: what is the importance of those two names? Jesus, the man; Christ, the Messiah. (Not first and last name!) New Agers talk about "the christ-consciousness in us all," as if it were a vague god-like thing. The Bible presents Christ, the Messiah, as both God and man. Mark also introduces Him as who? His book will present evidence to prove this claim. Then who does Mark talk about? He begins with one of the very few Old Testament quotations he uses; he adds a quote from Malachi to the Isaiah quote. No genealogy, just a point of reference, setting the context; part is from Isaiah and part is from Malachi.
4-11 Mark then shows the fulfillment and meaning of those quotes. He gets right to what two key issues? As we saw in Matthew, what was this baptism for? Did it confer forgiveness? No; a public declaration, identifying with someone's teachings. Literally: immerse, submerge. John was preparing people's hearts for the gospel of the kingdom. Later, following the crucifixion and resurrection, baptism would have even greater meaning for the church, Rom. 6:3-7.
Who does his dress resemble? II Kings 1:8. His lifestyle was plain. What is John's message, 7-8? Another kind of baptism was coming, a new activity of the Holy Spirit—a new dispensation with a baptism that DOES save. Jesus was from what town in what region? What is Jesus' first public activity? He was identifying Himself with John's teaching. 10, immediately. How do we see the Trinity here? The word "trinity" is never used in the Bible; it is a word we use to describe the concept of one God in three persons, as the Bible portrays.
12-15 Immediately; many sentences will begin like this. How does this account compare with Matthew's? No details. Matthew didn't mention wild beasts; does it appear Jesus was in danger because of them? 14, John is taken out of the picture, no details of why. What is Jesus's message? What time is fulfilled? That which was foretold, prophesied. Now Israel's promised kingdom is about to be. What two things does He say we must do? Sometimes we find just one mentioned, sometimes the other. Are they two separate actions, or are they inseparable?
16-20 Calling four disciples; how soon do they decide to follow Him? Jesus had been with John and had been preaching, so must have already been known to them. Strong's Concordance: follow, to join as an attendant or a disciple. We read the details of Peter's experience elsewhere; perhaps he did not want to draw attention to himself and his experience. When Jesus spoke to them, He used language they as fishermen could relate to; how might that apply to how we speak to others?
21-28 When and where did Jesus begin teaching? Capernaum became His headquarters, on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. How did people react? What kind of miracle does Mark first describe? Right in the synagogue and on what day of the week? This will soon become important to the plot. John says the wedding at Cana was the first miracle. 24, who is saying this? What does this tell us about demons? What are demons? 27-28, now how did people react? Mark will tell us many times of Jesus's power over Satan's demons.
Some Christians today believe in casting out demons, but interestingly, the New Testament does not tell believers, the church, to do this. There are no instructions on doing it, and no indication it was a problem in the early church. There is no indication that believers could have a demon, or that sinful behavior is the result of demonic activity; we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We ARE told to deal with our sinful old nature. There is no evidence that those who Jesus cast demons out of were believers until after He delivered them. It was only done by Jesus and the disciples/apostles. This was one of the attesting signs and miracles that authenticated the Messiah's ministry.
29-34 Peter's home--was he married? Would this have implications for the decision Peter had just made? We don't read of any of the other disciples being married. What day of the week was this? 32, why did these people wait till after the sun had set? The Sabbath was over; now they could carry the sick. Keeping the Sabbath was one of the most important things for a Jew to do. A great many miracles take place; we are only given details of a few. More healings, specifically mentioning demon-possession.
35-45 What did Jesus do, and when, and why? Why had Jesus come? Preaching and casting out demons, healing a leper. A Jewish leper was even cut off from worship, was ceremonially unclean. Did lepers ever get well? So why did this man believe Jesus could heal him? Couldn't He have healed him without touching? What can we learn about prayer from 40? Is it always God's will? "If," accepting God's will; "you can," faith. 44, why should he go to the priest? Will the priest believe? When God does something in your life, are other people affected and influenced? Did the healed leper keep quiet? Do you suppose these crowds now were coming to hear Jesus' message or to see sensationalism? What about miracle-seekers today? What are they after?
This first chapter is packed with important events. Jesus has been showing people who He is. Thousands of people witnessed Jesus' words and deeds. Today we hear of so-called scholars looking for the so-called "historical Jesus," trying to separate what "really" happened from the "myths and stories" of the Bible record. They reject the record, which makes clear that many people knew of Jesus; if these records are false, many other writers of that time would immediately have discredited them.
1-5 Houses had outside stairs up to a flat roof made of grass, clay, tiles, laths. How do we know that "their faith" included the paralytic and didn't refer to just the four friends? The man had to have faith in Jesus if Jesus forgave His sons. What might it mean here to have faith? What did they believe? That Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, the Savior of sinners.
6-12 Why do you suppose Jesus said what He did instead of just healing the man? What was the purpose of this incident? To prove to the crowd and especially to who? that He was God in the flesh, the Savior of sinners. 8-9, how else did He prove Himself to the Pharisees? The outward action was merely visible, verifiable, indisputable.
We might wonder if Jesus was implying in 5 that sin was the cause of the man's condition. From our point of view in the church age, we would say no. Which dispensation was this? The Jews were still under the Law. Under the Law, Israel was promised physical blessings for obedience, and curses for disobedience, so it is possible that was indeed the situation here. Or Jesus could have said it merely to prove His identity to the Pharisees.
13-17 He calls Levi, who had probably heard of him and possibly even heard Him preach; because this follows the above verses, we wonder if he witnessed that incident. It is not recorded here, but which disciple is Levi? Mat. 9:9. Tax-collecting for Rome was lucrative because people were charged more than was due and the money was pocketed by the tax collector; Jews who did this for Rome were doubly despised. Levi was probably well off, yet Matthew left his job behind when he was convinced Jesus was Messiah.
Since Matthew had just left his profession, we wonder why he invited tax collectors to his house, with who else? The twelve have not yet become the twelve, so disciples could include many followers. What does the term "sinners" here mean? This was a term for common, untaught people who didn't meet the Pharisees' legalistic standards. What does 16 reveal about the Pharisees? Knowing the self-righteousness of the Pharisees, what is Jesus saying? And might we hear sarcasm in His voice? 17, who are the "healthy" and who are the "sick"? Are the healthy really healthy? They thought they had no need to repent but those who know they are sinners do repent.
18-20 Fasting was a religious ritual which Israel had copied from the pagan nations; it was not taught or required by the Law. But it had become the expected thing to do (like some of our Christian activities today?), twice a week, Luke 18:12. Comparing other passages, what does fasting express? Mat. 9:14-15, II Sam. 1:12, 12:16. Who is the bridegroom? Why is bride not mentioned? The church is not yet present, but is foreshadowed here. What is Jesus prophesying? Are we to mourn when He is removed from ghe earth, or is He referring to when He is taken from His disciples--arrested and crucified? Might "in that day" speak of the day if the Lord, as it often does, and how then they will not have Jesus either in the flesh or as the indwelling Spirit. First mention in Mark of the cross.
21-22 What two words are found in both verses, that give a clue to the meaning here? New and old; a new dispensation is coming. Jesus has not come to add something to Judaism or to the Law; God is going to do something new. He says this right after He calls Himself the bridegroom. The church, the bride, which is just around the corner, is the new wineskin; just as the old nature cannot be fixed up or patched, but rather we need a new nature. This was not the way God had been dealing with man under the Law. Faith in Christ was not to be mixed with the Law, as we will see more in the Epistles. We also read in the Epistles that Christ's righteousness is like a garment we put on (rather than patching our present garments). Also, if Jesus likens this new life to new wine, do you really think wine could be evil, in and of itself? Would Jesus use something sinful to picture new life in Christ? Drunkenness is condemned in the Bible, but not wine-drinking.
23-24 Another Sabbath; Jesus not keeping the Sabbath becomes a major issue for the Pharisees. The Law permitted this type of picking and eating, but the Pharisees had changed the Law. It's hard to believe we are to observe the Sabbath (the seventh day was given as a day of rest, not as a day to meet for church) when we do not see Jesus doing or teaching this. We do find Him repeating the other nine commandments, but not the fourth--the one about keeping the Sabbath. Seventh Day Adventists uphold the commandments and often add, "and especially the fourth," yet the fourth was never upheld above the others. What did the Old Testament teach about Sabbath-keeping? Exo. 31:17, it is a what? Between God and who? To recognize God as what? Creator. In the New Testament, what group will He be dealing with. NOT Israel, but now the church. Instead of looking back to creation, what defining act of God will we commemorate? Israel's physical rest pictures the church resting in Christ, resting from the works of the Law. We are not living in the Old Testament dispensation.
25-26 He gives an example from the Old Testament. The Pharisees held a very narrow, legalistic interpretation of the Sabbath observance. (You COULD rescue an animal or person or circumcise a baby on the Sabbath--common sense.) Actually, Abiathar was not the high priest in the incident referred to; it was Ahimelech, his father. Abiathar was the more well-known character, and it was in his days, in that time period. Some will try to claim this is an error or contradiction, but we often see Bible terms used very loosely like that.
27-28 This must have really upset the Pharisees. Jesus says which ranks higher, man or the Sabbath? Jesus is the Son of Man, but is he "man?" And who is the Sabbath made for? It does not apply to Him.
1-6 Another Sabbath day--a setup? Jesus asks a setup question, they are trapped. Is anger a sin? What kind of anger is OK? What kind is not OK? compare Eph. 4:26 and 31. What actual work did Jesus do that they could convict Him of? Did He even touch the man? This brings what dark turn of events? The "swamp," the religious deep-state, was around already back then, and always has been (the harlot of Rev. 17). What do we learn about the Pharisees from this?
7-12 Disciples, multitudes following from all over. He has not yet appointed the twelve, so here "disciples" means His many followers. Jesus was progressively revealing who He was in His own way, not through the witness of demons. Mark records many instances of healing of demon possession. Why would the demons fall down before Him? Phil. 2:9-11.
13-19 Twelve were chosen from among the disciples to be His inner circle, to share in His ministry and His power to heal.
20-27 How busy is Jesus? Does His family see things from His point of view? They accuse Him of what? being mentally off. Jesus experienced misunderstanding and rejection by family and friends, and many other difficult things that we humans experience. That's one reason He became flesh; Heb. 4:15-16. His enemies accuse Him of what? demon possession. Why does God sometimes allow us to be alone or misunderstood by all? So that we have no one to turn to but Him. They are not even thinking logically; what is He claiming in 27? That HE has BOUND the strong man.
28-30 What sin can never be forgiven? 30, because what? The power that is of God, that Jesus used, operates through the Holy Spirit; they were claiming Jesus was operating by a demonic spirit, not God's Spirit. This is the sin of willful unbelief--knowingly rejecting Christ, in spite of the evidence.
31-35 How does the family relationship compare to our relationship with Jesus? Our priorities change. What is the criterion, 35? I John 2:17, the one who does the will of God lives forever, i.e., one who has believed in Jesus. We have mo record that His brothers believed in Him until after the resurrection; we don't son't even know if Mary really did. This passage implies they all did not. He seems to be contrasting His family with the believers gathered around Him. Since He doesn't mention father, we can infer that Joseph has died.
Mark gives a shorter version of what we read in Matthew 13, the mystery parables discourse. Jesus is now about half way through His three years of ministry. Just as we saw in Matthew, the Pharisees reject His claims as Messiah. They seek to kill Him, and they accuse Him of operating in the power of Satan. Now Jesus begins to veil His message by teaching in parables.
1-9 The parable of the sower, which will be explained.
9-12 Why parables? Does everyone have ears to hear and eyes to see? Will God hide truth from anyone who really wants it? Those who have rejected, or who He knows will reject (those outside the coming kingdom), are given a more obtuse version, because they don't get it, don't want it, and won't get it. A parable imparts truth to some people while veiling it from others, depending on the condition of their hearts.
The parables are about what, 11? In the Bible, what is a mystery? Something that God has not previously revealed but is now revealing. The new revelation is about what? Jesus came to Israel to present Himself as their Messiah and to offer them the promised kingdom. The nation has rejected Him, so the kingdom will not happen now; it is being postponed, it is now off in the future. Those who have rejected Him will not enter the kingdom, even though they still think they will because they are in the line of Abraham. What is God's kingdom plan now? This is what Jesus will reveal to His disciples in parables. They too are looking for the kingdom.
13-20 We see something new in God's plan, a change of dispensation, of how God is operating in the world: instead of the world coming to Israel, to Jerusalem, to seek God, now the Word is going out to the world. Doe all the seed take root? Even if the seed takes root (saving faith), is fruit always produced? 4-7 describe outcomes that are explained in 15-19. 17, fall away a phrase also used elsewhere, means stumble, not lose your salvation. 4 and 15, we see, as elsewhere, birds used symbolically, as evil. We all know people like these described. Some teach that only 8 and 20 speak of true believers, and teach that if you truly believe, you WILL have fruit that is obvious to others. But some believers remain babes in Christ, I Cor. 3:1-4 and Heb. 5:11-14. 20, do all produce the same amount of fruit?
21-25 In Matthew, we read this in the Sermon on the Mount. Might He have repeated His teachings on many occasions? Mark doesn't give the Sermon on the Mount (very little on teaching, more on actions of Jesus), so he intersperses a few of those teachings in his story. 21, what is the light that is not to be hidden? What principle is in 22? Num. 32:23. What principle in 24? Gal. 6:7. In 25, the one who does not have does not seem to be one who is poor due to circumstances beyond his control, but rather what, perhaps?
26-29 Again, the parables are about what, 26? In Matthew, this is the parable of the wheat and the tares, but Mark leaves out the tares. We see in this age that the Word is going out to the world, seed is being sown, and that seed is to take root and mature; we start out as babes in Christ, drinking only milk, but we are to become mature, eating solid food. So does the kingdom appear quickly, or over a period of time? 29, what takes place at the end of this age? Harvest represents what? Rev. 14:19. This in a nutshell is God's plan for this age when the kingdom has been postponed.
30-32 Again, the parables are about what, 30? The parable of the mustard seed. We discussed this in Matthew 13 in the context of the Mystery Parables Discourse. This parable is interpreted by some as showing the growth of the church as a positive thing. In the time between the first and second coming, the church age, a seed grows unnaturally large. Evil makes itself quite comfortable there. How do we know birds represent evil? Compare 4,15. Mark mentions very little about the kingdom compared to Matthew, because they are writing to different audiences.
33-34 He makes sure His disciples understand. What about when WE don't understand what Jesus (the Bible) has said? John 14:26.
35-41 Jesus calms the storm. Why was Jesus able to sleep through this storm--what did He know that they didn't? That nothing bad would come of it. Can we know the outcome of anything in this life? But what do we know? He said they were fearful because they lacked what? The more we trust God, the less we will fear. When fearful thoughts or feelings come, counter them with facts you know about God; feelings are not facts. What fact was He teaching them about who He was? The more we understand that God is sovereign over everything, the easier it becomes to trust Him over our feelings.
1-13 Mat. 8:28 says the Gadarenes; other side of the sea, the land of Gad (one of the 12 tribes). Violence, screaming, super-human strength, self-destruction, fascination with death (living in graveyard) tell us about the character of demons, of Satan. Did Jesus go find this man? What does 6 reveal? 7, who was speaking? They KNOW who Jesus is. The man and the demons are inhabiting the same body; perhaps the man bowed and worshipped, but the demons then used his voice. 9, more than one spirit can inhabit a human. Starts with "my" but ends with "we." Perhaps the man began to speak and then the demons took over. 12, why do you suppose they wanted Jesus to do this? Some conclude that demons do not like to be without a body, but we see no other instance like this. The pigs showed the same destructive characteristics that the man had showed.
Was Jesus mean for destroying someone's livelihood? Who were these people and how had they come to be in that land? Num. 32. God had said to go into Canaan and possess the land He had given them, but some disobeyed. They added to/changed, God's Word in order to justify their disobedient actions, claiming that this was their "inheritance" from the Lord. Now what are they doing that is also in defiance of what God said, Deut. 14:1-8? Someone said, He gave them a sign, but they wanted swine.
14-20 Did the locals praise Jesus for the amazing miracle and believe in Him? What was their main concern? Jesus calls some to follow and some to do what? How does this relate to the parable of the sower? Soon Jesus will send all His followers out to spread the Gospel, Acts 1:8.
21-43 A Jewish leader in the synagogue humbly requests healing for his daughter. Was the interruption part of God's plan? It is why the daughter died. Like with Lazarus, Jesus has a reason for allowing delay--and for "delays" in our lives that seem to make the situation worse? 26, may God allow your trial to go on for years? Did Jesus not know who touched Him or that she had been behind Him? For whose benefit did He ask? So that everyone else would know too. Jesus heals in many different ways so that we know it is not a method but Him, faith in Him. What was the purpose of His healings? That all might know He was the Messiah, God in the flesh.
The original story continues. She was completely well instantly. If His plan was for her to live, couldn't He just have healed her at a distance with a word? why did He allow the worst to happen? Why might it not be God's will to fix our situation as quickly as possible? He has reasons for what looks to us like delay or not answering or allowing "the worst" to happen. He is always at work. What did Jesus say that is also to us? What do the two twelves in this story contrast?
People outside the family cannot help but find out what has happened since the mourners are present. I wonder if Jesus' warning was to allow Him to leave without being mobbed?
1-6 What was the problem in Jesus's hometown? They were astonished; did they believe in Him? How is this pike the parable of the sower and the seeds? What had Jesus been doing His first thirty years? Did Mary remain a virgin all her life? Did His family believe He was who He claimed to be? We can infer what His family life had been like for thirty years. Apparently He had not revealed Himself even to them as Messiah; we can imagine what happened at home when He did.
7-13 Jesus sends the twelve out to preach His power and authority. Signs and miracles are for what purpose? For authenticating the message, whether the ministry of Jesus, the disciples, or later as the apostles founded the early church. There were no hotels; in the Epistles Christians were instructed to show hospitality even to strangers. Today we must apply this within the conditions of our day. What was their message? This was before the cross so the message was not to be saved by believing in the blood of Jesus. Jesus had come to offer the kingdom to Israel if they believed He was Messiah; righteousness, not just being a descendant of Abraham, was required for entrance into the kingdom.
14-29 A flashback about the previous death of John the Baptist. Herod heard of Jesus and thought He sounded like John the Baptist, which means at the time he had John killed, he had not yet heard about Jesus. 18, why did he have John arrested and imprisoned? John's message was to repent from your sin, and he had the audacity to point to Herod's sin. 19-20, what conflict do we see in Herod? 21, we see Mark's slant toward his audience, the Romans; "strategic," "lords and military commanders," as opposed to Matthew's account that just refers to dinner guests. What do we learn about Herod's character? Do you think this kind of thing still takes place in politics--good men sacrificed for egos?
30-44 Here the disciples are called apostles. Disciples implies learners, followers; apostles implies those who are sent out. They return and report in; they are tired and hungry--do they get to rest or eat? What does this say about those who are in public ministry or missions? Matthew didn't mention how much it would cost, but Mark and John do--200 days' wages for common labor might be approximately what today? Why might Jesus give them an impossible task? Jesus put them in numbered groups--why? So it would be obvious how many they were? Why might He provide so many leftovers, and not just satisfy their hunger or give them each a morsel? There were probably many women and children besides the men.
45-52 Jesus walks on the water; what was the purpose if this miracle? Matthew adds that Peter also walked on the water, but Mark, although he got his information from Peter, leaves this out. But Marks adds an editorial comment, 51-52. We wonder if this was Mark's comment or Peter's.
53-56 Again, a frenzied crowd constantly surrounds Him; can you imagine His life? 56, interestingly, the word for "cured" is "saved." Do all these people believe in Him? Were they craving truth, His teaching?
1-8 We haven't heard nearly as much about the Pharisees from Mark as we did from Matthew; why would that be--who is Mark writing to? 3-4, why does Mark explain this? Do they do this to keep the Law? The traditions of men are things the Pharisees added to the Law. What does Jesus call their legalism? Why? Does adding rules still go on? Does Jesus answer their question? He calls them hypocrites; He contrasts their what with their what? What is the application for us?
9-13 Is Jesus using sarcasm in 9? Why were the Pharisees manipulating this commandment? Greed. Does Satan know how to play religious games with words? 13, what did these added traditions do? Can this happen if we add our rules and traditions to God's Word?
14-23 Who is He speaking to now? He answers for them the question the Pharisees asked in 5. 15, are any foods now forbidden? This will be made even clearer in Acts 10:9-16. Keep in mind that the disciples had been raised in the Jewish Law. 17, do the disciples get it? 19, only Mark adds this explanation; he got his information from Peter, who was the one who had the vision in Acts about the clean and unclean animals. 20-23, the first and last, evil thoughts/things, encompasses them all. What is the difference between fornication and adultery? Foolishness/folly, slander and pride are right there with theft and murder. Envy/an evil eye. Which one sin does the Bible speak against most? Pride.
Mark doesn't make as clear as Matthew does at this point that Jesus was being rejected as Messiah by the Jews and particularly the Pharisees; why? The Romans are mot concerned about that. But Mark shows Jesus breaking with the Law, first in the two Sabbath incidents, end of CH2 and beginning of CH3, then here publicly castigating the Pharisees and then breaking with the laws on foods. He is hinting that things are changing; a new dispensation is just around the corner.
24-37 Jesus makes this break clearer by leaving Israel and going to the Gentiles (the next two incidents). How is this relevant to Mark's Roman readers? Jesus initially came to Israel, but as they reject Him, He begins opening His ministry to Gentiles. 24, what did Jesus want? It is emphasized that the woman is a Gentile. The children would be the Jews; dogs here means little dogs, house pets. She understands, showing humility and faith, in contrast with who? Israel expected, demanded, God's blessings; the Gentiles, and this woman, do not have any special claim on God's blessings, yet He gives what we do not deserve, because of His grace and mercy, if any have faith. Did the healing involve His presence or touch?
31, Decapolis is on the east side of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. Why might this healing have involved touch? Does Jesus still open ears? Whose ears could He not open? 37, yet Israel does not accept Him as the Son of God, as their Messiah.
1-9 Feeding of the 4000. This follows His visit to the Gentile region where He cast out a demon, so we might wonder if this miracle was while He was still in the Gentile region or was for the benefit of Gentiles now following Him, whereas earlier He was ministering to the Jews.
10-13 Who wants a sign? Why--did they want to believe? What about His healings? Why does He refer to "this generation"? How does 38 clarify--IS He just talking about the people who happen to be living in that timespan? Those who had actually witnessed His earthly ministry as Messiah and rejected Him--unbelieving Israel--seem to be in bigger trouble than the rest of the world's unbelievers. They are the ones He spoke to about the unforgivable sin.
14-21 What are the disciples concerned about? What is Jesus concerned about? They are using the same word; Jesus uses bread/leaven symbolically. He was continually healing eyes and ears, yet they still couldn't what? They had no insight, only surface understanding. When WILL they finally get it? We have the indwelling Holy Spirit to teach us.
Jesus, His words, are the bread of life; what is the leaven of the Pharisees? What does leaven represent in the Bible? What does unleavened bread symbolize, like in communion? How does yeast work? A little permeates the whole thing, it makes bread tastier. Does everyone find God's Word tasty?
22-26 This miracle is only found in Mark. Jesus heals him in two stages; partially, then completely. He asks the man if he can see yet; we don't see that anywhere else. What is going on here, in context? How might this be an object lesson related to what He just said to the disciples? Their sight and hearing was only partial, but there was more yet that they hadn't seen or heard or understood. Their vision was hazy too. Do we also move gradually from blindness to partial sight to really seeing? Spiritual growth happens this way, and for some, salvation happens this way. Some see and believe right away; others can't point to a day they became a true believer because it happened gradually, and they eventually realize they DO believe.
27-30 Doesn't Jesus know what people are saying? Why does He question people (Old or New Testament)? Then as now, this is the important question that everyone must answer. Is Jesus a good man, a teacher, a prophet? Would a good man, a good teacher, a good prophet, deceive by claiming to actually be God? The Christ, 29 = the Messiah. The Old Testament prophesied He would be God in the flesh.
Up to this point in His ministry, He has been presenting Himself as King of the Jews, offering Israel the earthly kingdom. Because they rejected Him, the kingdom isn't going to happen for awhile; something else is going to happen instead. This is the pivotal point of this book. Although His disciples believed it (and not just the twelve), Jesus was not yet publicly claiming to be the Messiah, yet all the while showing Himself to be Messiah. It does not clearly come out until the end of His ministry. Either Peter is the one who truly gets it, or he is the spokesman for the group, or he just has the biggest mouth. Jesus never goes around proclaiming this truth, but allows others to realize it and point it out, as John the Baptist did.
31-33 What new teaching does Jesus give His disciples? Believing that He was the Messiah, about to bring Israel the kingdom, why would this kind of talk upset the disciples? Who rebuked who? This is the only time Jesus rebuked Peter, not even the for his denial. Is our mind set on our interests over God's? How can we set our minds on God's interests?
34-38 Now Jesus is speaking to the crowd also. Living under Rome, what did His audience associate with a cross? This is no longer kingdom teaching. The kingdom will be postponed and a new dispensation--the church age--is just around the corner. Things are about to change. Some are believing in Him, some are rejecting, some are on the fence; He gives a paradox explaining the consequences of their choice. What is He saying? It will be hard and may involve death. Jesus presents it as a negative and a positive.
Paul develops this teaching for the church age, Rom. 6:1-11, I Cor. 15:31, Gal. 2:19-20. The parallel passage in Luke 9:23 adds what key word? When we are born again, we receive a new nature. We died with Christ, a reference to our initial saving faith in His death for us. Self, the old nature, is still a factor in our lives. We are to daily "reckon" Self to be dead to sin--we are to act as if it were so. The two natures struggle within the believer, Rom. 7:14-25. This explains much of our difficulty in spiritual growth.
"Life" = "self." Man's natural reaction is to exalt Self, to seek to save Self from pain and loss. That man has lost; he doesn't have LIFE. Our culture teaches the worship of Self. Psychology is the religion of Self. These people have "found their life." But the one who is willing to give up Self, take Self off the throne of his life and put Christ there instead, in losing his life (Self), has found LIFE. We may not have an earthly life that is successful or wonderful by earthly standards, but all that will look like nothing when we get to heaven. These two verses are keys to the Christian life.
Are 36-38 talking about a believer losing his salvation? No, Scripture does not teach that is possible. The unbeliever forfeits his soul; he is ashamed of Christ, meaning he does not claim Him as Savior, he rejects Him, does not identify himself with Christ. Therefore, at Christ's second coming, He will not claim that person as His own, and that person will be ashamed and will not enter the millenial kingdom. It also applies to the final day of judgment.
1-7 Verse 1 appears to belong with 8:34-38. When does the kingdom come with power? At the second coming. Who is Jesus speaking about? 1 is explained in 2-7. Jesus allows His three closest disciples to get a glimpse of the future, of the kingdom. He is with two Old Testament believers. Seventh Day Adventists believe in soul sleep, that after death the soul goes into a state of sleep, and does not go to be with Jesus until the resurrection; how does this passage refute that? Peter speaks of this event in II Pet. 1:16-18.
This shows us who will be present in the kingdom: Christ in His glorified body, believers who have died and have their glorified bodies, believers who have NOT died but were taken up to heaven and received their glorified bodies (the raptured church), and believers still in their earthly bodies (the surviving tribulation saints).
Mark adds a comment that Matthew didn't give; he probably got his account from Peter, and explains why Peter said what he did, 6. So Peter is the type that, when he doesn't know what to say, blurts!
Why does God say, hear Him? Who was with Jesus? Who had the Jews been listening to up till now? Moses and Elijah: the Law and the Prophets, i.e., the Old Testament. Here we have more evidence that God deals with men differently in different times, different dispensations. Does He say Moses and Elijah were wrong? But NOW we are to listen to who? Heb. 1:1-2.
9-13 Somehow, IF they had accepted Jesus as their Messiah, John WOULD have been the promised Elijah. Luke 1:17. God not only knows the future, He knows all the possible outcomes, even the ones that didn't happen, How might this comfort us when a loved one dies? We don't know what pain and tragedy God might have been protecting that person from, or us, as we are involved in their life. God is just and merciful and all-knowing.
14-29 Mark is usually brief, but here, gives a much longer account of this incident than Matthew or Luke. He focuses more on the problem of demon-possession than the other writers do; perhaps he has a personal interest in this subject. He also mentions the comments about belief and unbelief, which neither Matthew or Luke do. Matthew focuses on the lack of faith of the disciples. 19, who is the unbelieving generation? Israel; He often uses this term for them (maybe like we in exasperation might say, "You PEOPLE!"). Compare 6:5-6. Who does he chastise in 23? 24, what do you think of this statement and prayer? Is unbelief still a problem for those who believe?
What does 29 tell us about demons? There are different kinds, they have different powers. The importance of prayer in accomplishing anything for God; is there power in rote prayer, or rote Bible reading? Do we see Jesus pray in order to cast out this demon? Why not?
30-32 This was not His message at first; at first He was presenting Himself to Israel as Messiah, offering them the kingdom. Now He is approaching the end of His three-year ministry; Israel has rejected Him, and He is now revealing what will happen instead.
33-37 Why didn't they answer His question? Why did He ask? Explain the paradox in 35. God's way vs. the world's way. No self-esteem gospel here. He uses a child to demonstrate what pleases God. This reinforces the idea that children are acceptable to God (up until that point at whatever age they become accountable in God's eyes). 37, doing things for others in His name (that means not for our purposes or agenda, but as He would do it) is equivalent to what? doing things for Him. Is our motivation sometimes to make ourselves look good? or feel good? or to manipulate other people? (now they will owe me) Even the least important are important to Him--do we categorize people's importance?
38-41 Many had believed on the name of Jesus; even those followers who were not among the twelve could speak the name of Jesus against demons. Might the disciples have felt they should be in charge over that person? Might this tie in with the previous few verses? Are there Christians preaching salvation in the name of Jesus, or running a charitable ministry, who do not hold correct views on every doctrine? But are there some that use the name of Jesus who are NOT saved? Can we always know?
42-48 Can children believe? Some teach that they cannot. How does God feel about those who mistreat children? Jesus teaches of a literal hell, a place of eternal torment, where the fire and the maggots never quit. Is the hand, foot or eye the source of our sin? We must be willing to deal with sin, to take severe measures, to let God do major surgery. Under the Law, salt accompanies every what, Lev. 2:13? 49 speaks of everyone: everyone will either enter the kingdom or end up in hell. The offering of unbelievers results in hell, and the fire of judgment will do what to believers, I Cor. 3:10-15? Salt seems to speak of good flavor.
1-12 Who came to do what, about what, 2? There were two schools of thought: divorce was permissible for the slightest offense (the popular view), or, only for sexual offense (the Mosaic Law view). They want Jesus to take a side, which would then make Him unpopular with one group or the other. Does Jesus give a yes/no answer? As He often does, He answers their question with a what? Instead of talking about divorce, Jesus talks about what? He takes them back to what? Before the Law, and before what else? The fall. This was God's perfect plan for marriage, His ideal will, before sin entered the world. But sin DID enter the world. Apparently marriage vows were taken as lightly then as now, just as convenience, rather than something binding before God. Are Christians promised a loving fulfilling marriage, to where you can divorce if you are not loved or fulfilled? What if it is not? Another passage on divorce is I Cor. 7.
Because marriage is to be permanent, remarriage is equivalent to adultery, unless unfaithfulness was the reason. Why--what is marriage a picture of? Eph. 5:22-32. God permits us to divorce just like He permits us to do any other sin; that does not condone or lessen the sinfulness of any sin. God's view of marriage is permanent, faithful/monogamous (excluding all others, before and after the marriage), and male/female.
13-16 This passage ties God's concern for permanent marriage to God's concern for what? 13, why might the disciples do this? Some Christians believe children cannot receive Christ, so do not evangelize children. Adults must become like children in what way? This also points to the idea that children go to heaven when they die, before they reach the age when they are accountable for their own decision about Christ. The context is how to enter the kingdom, who can be saved.
17-22 Luke identifies this young man as a ruler, so this is often referred to as the story of the rich young ruler. He was interested in eternal life, which required righteousness. What does he call Jesus? Do many still think this today? Jesus addresses this fallacy. Who is good/perfect? What is Jesus claiming? If He is not, then He is a good man or a liar and deceiver? or a lunatic.
Whenever Jesus quotes or refers to the ten commandments, He never quotes the fourth, about keeping the Sabbath. The New Testament does not teach that we are to continue observing the Sabbath, the seventh day. We are not told that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday; we are not even told to meet on the first day of the week. Why did the early church do so? To commemorate what? In the Old Testament, God's defining act was what? creation, and the righteous were to refrain from work on the seventh day as God did. (The Sabbath was not given as a day worship.) In the New Testament, what is the defining act of God? the resurrection, so now we are to focus on that.
He was sure he had kept the Law; does Jesus chastise him for pride? He wasn't certain that he had eternal life. He lacked something but didn't know what it was. Do good works fill that hole in our hearts? What does? Following Jesus, no matter the cost. Does this say that all who wish to follow Christ need to sell everything? If that was required, wouldn't we find that clearly throughout Scripture? Why did Jesus tell him to? What do we learn about this man? DID he have another god in the place of God?
23-27 So does this say that the rich must become un-rich before they can find salvation? No, but what must they do? Stop trusting in their riches, hold them lightly, be willing to part with them if God should ask them to. He is warning that most rich people DO trust in their possessions. If we are not rich, what is the application here for us? We should hold everything lightly that we have and value. And sometimes those that are not wealthy are so consumed with getting more so they CAN trust in it; they think security can be found in more things or more money. (One commentary says the camel's eye is NOT a low gate, as others claim.) More evidence of a new dispensation; now God is setting things up different. Wealth is no longer the mark of God's blessing, as it was in the Old Testament, and can even be a hindrance. 26-27, is salvation our doing? Eph. 2:8-9.
28-31 What is Peter concerned about? Rewards, status, power, pride? Might he be comparing himself and the disciples to the young ruler? They HAD left much. But does Jesus rebuke his question? What is ahead for the twelve? "He shall receive a hundred times as much": in the Old Testament the righteous were rewarded with a prosperous life, but now, Eph. 1:3, New Testament believers are promised spiritual blessings. 29, rewards for doing what? Might things not turn out according to our human earthly values? Or maybe, they who appeared "last" in the world's eyes, will then be first, and those who have everything now will be at the bottom of the heap then. Or could this be a time reference? They (Israel) were first, we (the church) come last, we will receive our promises first, they will get theirs later, after us.
32-34 Where were they headed? And what will happen when they arrive, 11:1-2? So what is the time frame? Less than a week before the cross. they amazed and fearful because they knew Jerusalem was a dangerous place for Jesus? Comparing 9:31, we see that Jesus only shared this information at the very end of His three-year earthly ministry. Since He took the twelve aside, apparently more than that were following--He had many disciples. A specific prophecy of His arrest, death and resurrection.
35-40 What do we learn about James and John? Which John is this? The New Testament writer, not John the Baptist, who is dead. What do they think is just ahead? The kingdom. "The cup" is a symbolic reference to what? 14:36. Baptism means identification, so not water baptism here; what awaits them? Persecution and death. 40, we see a distinction between the members of the Trinity; they have different roles. What has been prepared? Who prepared it, and when?
41-44 Were things always smooth among the disciples? Are things always smooth between believers, or in the church? How should we handle those conflicts? The Bible gives us guidelines; the epistles were written to address problems and conflicts in the early church. Jesus teaches them about the ideas of greatness, authority, service, humility. They think He came to be the national leader, but now He states the true reason He came. What is a ransom? Did they take His life? When He returns for His earthly kingdom, THEN He will deal with the social and political. If Israel had accepted her Messiah, would Jesus still have become the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world? It would still have happened, just in some other way.
46-52 The healing of blind Bartimaeus. ("Bar" means son of.) He believed Jesus could heal him. Did Jesus touch his eyes or do anything special? What was his response? The Matthew account speaks of two blind men, unnamed. The Luke account says Jesus was approaching Jericho, not leaving, so similar but a different incident. In the garden at His arrest, what miracle does He do? It's interesting that His last healings open men's what and what? What had He said in 4:12 and 8:18?
1-11 We are now in the final week of Jesus's life. This incident is often called the "triumphal entry"--was it really? What did His followers think was happening? If Jesus was proclaiming a military takeover, what would He have been riding? We don't know if Jesus had arranged this with the owner earlier, or if He just prophesied that it would happen like this, and it did. Matthew's account makes it clear that this colt was a donkey, which was the common riding animal. Then as now, a colt would refer to a young animal but not a foal, probably age four or less. The amazing thing is that He rode an animal that had never been rode. Seeing the people's reaction, we can only wonder what they thought at His arrest and crucifixion--that He was not really the one.
11-14 The next day. Who lived in Bethany where Jesus may have stayed? Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Did Jesus curse this fig tree because He was hungry and was mad that there was nothing to eat? Is that God's nature? So we look for another meaning. The fig tree has been a picture or a symbol of what? Hos. 9:10. 14, what was Jesus/God looking for? Israel was concerned with outward religious appearances; like this tree, they looked good. What fruit is God looking for, in their nation and in people's lives? Righteousness. How does this fit into what Jesus had been doing and talking about for the last three years? Israel was not producing fruit acceptable to God, the kingdom is postponed. What is God's Plan B? He will now begin working with who? the Gentiles, until when, Rom. 11:25-26? So was Plan A a bad plan, a mistake? Does He permit us to resist His ideal will? But He is still in control; now things happen in our lives according to Plan B, or C, or D. His will will still be accomplished, in another way. The Bible says God is both sovereign AND has given us free will.
15-18 Did Jesus have a temper problem? Did Jesus ever sin? Is this kind of anger OK? Did Jesus come to teach tolerance, as liberals and New Agers say? Does love mean tolerant of all behavior? Does it with our children? If He were just a man, this incident would be rather audacious, but He is God; the temple is God's house. The religious leaders hate and feared Jesus, but He is popular enough with the Jewish masses so they don't dare try anything openly. Does astonished mean believe?
19-26 The fig tree had withered in just one day's time. What does this say about Israel? Is there ever a need to cast a mountain into the sea? So we can assume that Jesus is again speaking symbolically. What do mountains often symbolize in the Bible? Dan. 2:35,44, Rev. 17:9-10. Kings, kingdoms, which fits the context of the fig tree as Israel. Some teach that mountains represent our big problems; does the Bible teach we can pray them away if we have enough faith? Word-of-faith and health/wealth people teach this. We might even wonder if He is referring to Himself in 23, since only God is able to lift up and tear down kingdoms, not us, no matter how hard we believe.
Does 24 teach the power of positive thinking? Is that how the Bible presents prayer? He is contrasting faith and doubt. Many talk about faith; is faith what makes things happen, or the object of your faith? We need to consider all passages on prayer, such as John 14:13--THOSE are the requests God will give, things we know are His revealed will.
Are 25-26 said before or after the cross? In the church age, we believe and are born again, the Holy Spirit indwells us and seals us--eternal security. Before the church age, none of that was true for them. Those who worshipped the one true God were required to live righteously and obey the Law. Was the unforgiving person living righteously? So God would not treat him as a righteous person--he would not be forgiven. 26 may be in brackets; it is not in found in early manuscripts.
27-33 Where is He now? He is there until 13:1. The Jewish religious leaders challenge His authority; Jesus has been claiming to be God, to be Messiah. How does Jesus sidestep their trap?
1-12 Still in the temple, Jesus is teaching. Who is "them," 1? Who is the man, the landowner? What is the vineyard? Isa. 5:7, Hos. 9:10, 10:1. Who are the vinegrowers? Who are the landowner's slaves? Who is his son? What is 6 prophesying? What does 9 say will happen to Israel? Who are the other vinegrowers? Spiritual leadership will be given to Gentiles, to the church. Remember, this happened the same day Jesus spoke of the fig tree, so this is further evidence that this is the correct interpretation of the fig tree incident. Same picture; no fruit, God wants fruit, it is His right, He will judge. What does the vinegrower want, 2? From us also? Who is the stone? What is a cornerstone? The action is about to come to a climax.
13-17 Who shows up with another trap for Him? The Herodians and the Pharisees were political enemies; one opposed Rome, one supported Rome. Why are they now in cahoots? What was the trap? What would people have thought if Jesus had answered yes or no? The Roman tax collectors generally collected several times more taxes than people owed, so they were hated. What can we learn from 17 about God's view of our relationship to our government? What are our responsibilities to God? We are to be subject to BOTH God and our government.
18-25 Now who shows up with another trap? The Sadducees were the religious liberals and did not even believe in the resurrection, so they were not seeking truth, but to trap Him. 24, Jesus tells these religious leaders what? What is the application for us? Many of our questions would be answered if we read and studied the Bible more. What do we learn in 25? We will be reunited with those we love on earth, but apparently not in the same way. People like to think about being reunited with their loved ones, as if this will be the most important thing about getting to heaven. But will our emotions and priorities be the same in eternity as here? God will be the most important one to us; that relationship will be completely filling.
Will we be angels, as some think? Are angels sexless, neither male nor female? Does the Bible portray them as men or women? Does the Bible portray them with wings? except for cherabim and seraphim. If someone today "sees" an female angel or with wings, it is not from God. When angels take on human forms, some (wicked angels) have engaged in sexual relations, which they are not supposed to, Jude 6-7, II Pet. 2:4-5, I Pet. 3:19-20, Gen. 6:1-4.
Jesus speaks to their real problem, 26-27, their lack of belief in the resurrection. Are these three alive? So, eternal life, yes. Resurrection, yes. Soul sleep, no.
28 Another trap? Or perhaps, seeing how Jesus answered him, it was an honest question.
29-34 We wonder if this was also a trick question or an honest question. Did Jesus give one of the ten commandments? If the fourth (Sabbath-keeping) were the most important as the Adventists say, Jesus would have said so. Nowhere in the Bible is the fourth commandment said to be the most important. What does the word "love" mean in these verses? A choice to put someone first, before Self. Was he was thinking, using his head, open to truth? We wonder what became of him.
35-37 Now Jesus questions them, with a riddle. What is another term for the Christ? In the quote, who is "the Lord" and who is "my Lord", the "my" and "your"? What is He making clear to the Pharisees? The Messiah existed before David, yet will be his son. They believed the Messiah would be a man in the line of David. He is giving them a last chance to recognize who He is. How does the crowd respond? They found Him interesting and curious, even entertaining and amazing. Perhaps they enjoyed seeing Jesus confront the hypocrisy of the religious leaders. But they were about truth, sin, righteousness and the need for repentance?
38-40 Mark gives a brief three verse synopsis of the condemnation of the Jewish leaders in Mat. 22. What does an adjective in 40 teach about the judgment to come? There are degrees of punishment; greater condemnation is not for Hitler types we think deserve greater punishment, but for religious hypocrites, who had more light but did not repent.
41-44 Mark's short gospel focuses on actions rather than long passages of teaching. This giving was not done privately and discreetly as an offering bag was passed down the pews; this was done publicly in the temple, often with much show, as others saw how much people put in. How does this story relate to what Jesus has been talking about? What does it tell about how God looks at things we do? What does it teach about giving? Tithing was required in the Old Testament, under the Law, but is not required in the church age, the age of grace. We are told to give, but not required to give a certain amount. This passage shows that God considers our circumstances, the proportion we keep for ourselves compared to what we give to Him. Does it teach that all believers are to give everything they have to live on? If that were true, we would find that teaching clearly repeated elsewhere. This story contrasts outward show, giving with plenty left for one's own needs, and someone who trusts God for their material needs. Did what she gave amount to a sum of any value? So why did God value her gift above the others? It's not about how much money, talent, or time we give God.
The Olivet Discourse. The church is not in the picture in this chapter, but we will see many indications in this chapter that it is about Israel. God has a different plan for the church and for Israel. Where do we find God's plan for the church? (the Epistles)
Endtimes Review: The tribulation is the beginning of the period referred to as "the day of the Lord," or "that day," or "the day." We saw in the Old Testament that this "day" includes both the tribulation and the millenial kingdom. When and how does the tribulation start? The rapture is the first event on the endtimes timetable, and there are no signs given to tell when it will take place. I Cor. 15:51-52, I Thes. 4:14-18. II Thes. 2:1-12 establishes the fact that the church must be removed before the world ruler appears, and he must appear in order to sign the seven-year treaty mentioned in Dan. 9:25-27 which will mark the beginning of the seven years (the final "week"). In II Thes. 2, we see Paul is writing to the church at Thessalonica, assuring them that they have not missed the rapture (2:1) as some had been saying. 3, he tells them the day of the Lord can't start until that world ruler appears, here called the man of lawlessness. 6-8, that man can't appear until "he," the restrainer of evil, is removed. This must be the indwelling Holy Spirit, because there is no other "he" that is capable of doing this. And when the church, the body of Christ, is removed, the indwelling Holy Spirit will no longer be present on earth. The Holy Spirit will continue to operate on earth as He did in the Old Testament, and because God is omnipresent, He IS still present on the earth. I Thes. 4:13-18 and 5:1-11 also teach this. This section appears to be in chronological order, with the rapture mentioned first, and Paul speaking of "we" and "you" (believers); then chapter 5 he begins talking of "they" and "them" (unbelievers, those who are left). 2, the "day of the Lord" will come upon the unsaved who are left like a thief--someone we don't want or like or look forward to; Christ does not come to the church like a thief, but as the Bridegroom we are eagerly watching for. (2, 4) 9, this is important, compare Rev. 6:16-17. God pours out His wrath on the unbelieving world, not on the church, not on the body of Christ. Heb. 9-10 makes it clear Christ paid for our sins once for all; if the church were on earth for the tribulation, God would be pouring out His wrath on the body of Christ again. The church does not need to be purified, as some teach from Dan. 11:35; Daniel is speaking to Israel, not the church.
Then, after the church age has ended, God again begins dealing with Israel, as we saw prophesied in the Old Testament. Where do we get the teaching that the tribulation will be seven years? Dan. 9:25-27. Revelation often mentions the three-and-a-half year division, though; the first three-and-a-half years will be different in character than the last three-and-a-half years. We find the church in Rev. 1-3, then chapter 4 begins "after these things" (church things), and the word is never mentioned again; in 19, the church is referred to again, as the bride, at Christ's return. Revelation does mention "saints" because following the removal of the church, many will believe, but they are not part of the church--the bride of Christ, the body of Christ. All the church are saints (believers), but not all saints (believers) are the church.
1-4 Where is Jesus? Where had He been at the end of the previous chapter? So the disciples make a comment about the temple. The disciples want to know what will happen to the kingdom. They are asking about Israel's future; Jesus tells them what is in store for Israel, not the church, which does not come into being until Acts 2.
5-6 What key word in both verses tells us what will characterize that time? Why? If this is describing the beginning of the tribulation, who is in power? Some think this is describing the time leading up to the tribulation, even the entire church age. If this section is in chronological order, as it appears to be, and this is the beginning of the tribulation, what is the first thing that will happen, 5? Both timeframes could be pictured here, as we have often seen Old Testament prophecies that seem to include both a short-term and a long-term fulfillment.
7-8 Where else do we find this picture? The beginning of the tribulation, Rev. 6.
9 Who is "you"? Who is He speaking to? Jews. He is speaking to the disciples, so they are not the church. This corresponds with the chronological picture we get in Revelation; wars, famines, plagues, disasters, in Rev. 6, then in the middle of the seven years, the world leader shows himself for who he really is, breaks the seven-year covenant, and the great persecution of Israel begins. Dan. 9:27, Rev. 12-13. "Flogged in the synagogues" implies Jesus is speaking to the Jews. The big change in the middle of the seven years isn't mentioned until 14, so this verse tells us that even though the really severe persecution begins then, persecution of the Jews is already taking place.
10 Some Christians think this means that Christ will not come for His church until the whole world has had the gospel presented, so this has been an incentive for missionaries and for those who are translating the gospel into all known languages. But if this chapter is speaking to Israel, this comment would be about the second coming, the end of the tribulation, not the rapture. There are no signs given for the rapture. If this were a sign for the rapture, believers might as well quit looking for Christ's return, because it could not happen yet. But we are to always be ready and watching for His return--it is imminent.
11-13 Arrest awaits them. Are they told that they could be sure they would get off? Mark inserts here something that Matthew records, not in the Olivet Discourse, but back in 10:19-22. 11, some churches take this verse to mean that pastors should not go to seminary or even prepare a sermon, but to just let the Spirit speak through them. Read 11 Tim. 2:15, and to love God with our minds, not just hearts and souls. So what DOES 11 mean? 12, there will be a "turn-them-in" mentality in those days. Apparently the government will offer some strong incentive. Application for us: what do we do when faith in Christ conflicts with family unity? Compare Mat. 24:9-13, John 1:18-19. Following Christ can cause division. Enduring to the end: because the church age has ended and the Holy Spirit is no longer indwelling believers, tribulation saints will need endurance to maintain their faith in spite of pressure to cave to the Antichrist.
14-20 These verses are obviously directed to Jews. The abomination of desolation, another reference to Dan. 9:27. We know this happens in the middle, after three-and-a-half years. Even though the time frame is not given here, these events seem to follow that time frame: 5-13, the first three-and-a-half years; 14-20, the last three-and-a-half years. Some who do not take the Bible literally, and do not believe in seven literal years of tribulation following the removal of the church, believe that we are in the "last days" now, that this is the tribulation, and they are worried about who the Antichrist might be and what the mark of the beast might be. But 19 makes it clear that the final tribulation will be so awful that there will be no doubt in anyone's mind that this is a time period unparalleled in history. 20, what important fact about God is mentioned twice here? Why is God so often identified or described in this way in the Bible? Believers need to use this terminology more when talking to unbelievers about God, Rom. 1:20. 20, Jesus speaks of this as if it already happened, in the past tense. This is often found in Bible prophecy passages, and is referred to as the prophetic past tense. Even though for us these events are still future, in God's eyes, past, present, and future are the same because He is eternal, outside time, so it is like it already has happened. It is settled. Much of mankind will die, as we read in Rev. 6:8, 9:15,18. Many will also become believers, as we read in Rev. 7:9,14.
21-23 Deceivers, deception. They will have power. The elect are those who become believers during that time. Strong's: "elect" means chosen, selected, and is another Bible term for believers. Mat. 20:16, John 15:16, Rom. 8:33, Col. 3:12, Tit. 1:1, I Pet. 1:1-2. Here is a paradox. We are to believe and receive Christ, John 1:12, 3:16, but we only do that because He chose us first. Yet all are free to choose Him, John 6:37.
24-27 More clues that we are seeing a chronological time frame. Now we have what takes place as the tribulation ends. Catastrophes in the heavens, as in Revelation and Old Testament prophecies. Isa. 13:10; 9 gives the context, the day of the Lord. Isa. 27:13. Isa. 34:4; note also the references to the vine and the fig tree in connection with Israel. Dan. 7:13-14. Joel 2:10 (11 gives the context, the day of the Lord), 2:31, 3:15. Amos 5:20, 8:9. Zeph. 1:15. Zech. 2:6, 9:14. Deut. 30:3-5; this chapter contains what is known as the Palestinian covenant. 5 has never yet been completely fulfilled, so it must be yet future. 1-3 tells when it will be fulfilled (note the time words "when," 1, and "then," 3); this has never yet happened, but will happen at the end of the tribulation. Rev. 6:12-13, 8:12. Christ's return will be visible to all. One of the roles of angels at the second coming; angels do not gather the church at the rapture. The elect might refer to Israel, since they are regathered to their land, as the Old Testament prophesies. If so, the elect in 20 and 22 might also refer to the elect of Israel. Or it could refer to all the believers alive at that time, or it could include the resurrection of Old Testament saints. But since Jesus is answering the disciples' question about Israel's future, it is probably the elect of Israel.
28-30 What does the fig tree represent? Israel, 21:18-19. As they could observe the fig tree growing, they would know when it is almost time for fruit to appear. Many believe this refers to the fact that in 1948 Israel once again became a nation, as prophesied. Compare Eze. 37. 29, that's why many think these events are right around the corner (plus, just watch the news). 30, what generation? 29, perhaps the one that sees all these things take place--us. Some think it refers to the Jewish race or the human race. Some think it refers to those Jesus was talking to, but we see that He talked to them of many things that would happen after their lifetimes. Some think all this was fulfilled at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. However, many details don't fit, especially 24-27 (30 says "all" these things, not just some of them). That may have been a partial short-range fulfillment, picturing the long-range complete fulfillment to come, as we have seen in many prophecies. Jesus often used "this generation" to speak of wicked unbelieving Israel; they will continue to reject Him until He returns.
31-32 31 gives two important facts. The passing away of heaven and earth is mentioned in II Pet. 3:10-12; this must be at the end of the millenial kingdom, compare Rev. 21:1 and compare the time frame, following chapter 20. 32, date setters throughout history are all wrong. But we can watch the fig tree. Actually, once the seven-year treaty is signed, the year will be known, but the day and hour will not be known. Believers today often quote this verse in respect to the rapture, but the context is the second coming at the end of the tribulation. However, we can apply the same general concept to the rapture, since we are given no signs to know when it is about to happen. Jesus said He did not know; Jesus as a man gave up some or did not use all of the attributes of deity.
33-37 What are they told to do three times in these verses, 33, 35, 37? There are many similar warnings in the Epistles for the church also. There is much deception in the church age, and it will get worse at that time. For those believers in the tribulation, won't they know when it has been seven years? But they still won't know the day or hour, as 32 said. Many believe Christ returns on Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, which is a two-day feast, so it could reference that. 35, Mark uses the Roman system of dividing the night into four watches; Jews divide it into three. 36, don't be asleep when He comes--Matthew's account then goes on to give a parable about this, Mat. 25:1-13. Even though this is not to the church, there is application for us. We don't know either when the rapture will take place, not even the year, but we can know the season as we see the stage being set for the tribulation. Be ready, don't let yourself get drowsy. The rapture could happen at any moment. However, I Thes. 5:10 makes it clear that even those believers who are asleep, lethargic, not watching, will be taken; the rapture is not just for those who are awake, alert, and watching. All the church will be taken at that time, even those who do not believe in the rapture. 34, what is each one to be doing until that time, while the Master is away?
Mark leaves out much teaching here about the kingdom that Matthew includes. But Mark's audience, the Romans, aren't as interested in the concept of the kingdom as Matthew's audience, the Jews, are. Mark now goes right on with the action.
1-9 Whose plan happened, 2, man's or God's? What were they to be reminded of each year by observing the Passover? Exo. 12:1-14. What was the significance of Jesus's death happening during the Passover? John the Baptist/John 1:29. What was the prophetic significance of what the woman did? We don't know if she understood this. Simon must have been a healed leper. We see Jesus prophesies His death and burial.
10-21 Judas makes plans to betray Jesus. Some Bible scholars believe the last supper took place on a Wednesday, others Thursday; the lamb was sacrificed on the first day of the Passover. Did the others suspect Judas? Why not? Are there make-believers? Can we be fooled? Did God make Judas do it in order to fulfill prophecy? How do we know he had free will? If not, could God hold him responsible for his actions?
22-25 This Passover supper becomes what the church celebrates as the Lord's supper. The observation of the Lord's Supper (communion, mass, the Eucharist) is one of the big differences in beliefs of many churches. Do we really eat His body and drink His blood--what does the Bible say about cannibalism? Does the bread and wine change into His body? Does a priest have the power to do this? Where is that in the Bible? Are there to be priests in the church? Why not?
Catholics, Reformed, and some others believe that this is how God's grace is physically imparted to you. The Catholic church teaches that the bread and the wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus. Martin Luther held that the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine, but by faith they are the same as Jesus's actual body. John Calvin taught that Jesus's presence in the bread and wine was real, but only spiritual, not physical. Does any physical ritual or thing provide spiritual benefit? No. If Jesus really was telling them to eat and drink His actual body and blood, was there any redeeming value in His body and blood before the crucifixion and resurrection? Mark 14:22, Luke 22:17, I Cor. 11:23-26.
Communion is the reminder of the new covenant, to proclaim what Jesus did on the cross. The Passover was about the body and blood of the what? Passover lamb, Exo. 12; now He is pointing out that it is about HIS body and blood. If this imparted grace, surely such an important doctrine would be stated. The Law said to abstain from blood, and even though they weren't under the Law anymore, this was still observed, Acts 15:28. Lev. 17:11, blood has importance to God, not to us. I Cor. 8:8. Jesus also said He is a door, and bread, and water; He often uses word pictures. This is a major doctrinal issue that separates Christians.
Many teach that a spiritual form of the kingdom was already present and still is, but the Bible only teaches a literal future kingdom. "That day" usually speaks of the day of the Lord. Jesus also clarifies this in Acts 1:6-7. The kingdom begins with a banquet.
26-31 They leave the upper room and city and head where? Jesus tells them of an Old Testament prophecy: what two things will happen? Fall away: stumble. 28, what does He again foretell? Do we truly know what we are capable of? What advantage do we have? The indwelling Holy Spirit, I Cor. 10:12. Matthew just says before the cock crows; Mark gives more detail of what Jesus said. Do you see how two people's versions can differ and both be true? Peter tells Jesus He is wrong!
32-42 Where did they end up? We are not told if more was said along the way that is not recorded, or if they walked in silence. How must it feel to be God in a human body? Even Jesus didn't want what God had in store for Him; yet what? What didn't He want to happen? We see His two natures struggling. Do ours? Spirit vs. flesh, new nature vs. old nature, Rom. 7. What else is important to us in this prayer, 36?
The disciples all let Him down, but He speaks to Peter. Why did He address 38 to Peter? What temptation is about to come? It will come to all, but Peter will fall the hardest. Again they sleep, picturing how they were asleep spiritually.
43-52 Why were they carrying weapons? Perhaps they expected the disciples to be armed and resist them. The betrayal, in the dark; can you imagine the moment, the way they looked at each other? Peter draws his sword and wounds someone; Jesus heals him. Again, can you imagine that moment, the reaction? Jesus continually points out that He is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Fulfilled prophecy is the best evidence for the truth of the Bible. 51-52 is mentioned only in Mark; some think Mark may have included it because it was him.
53-65 Is Peter all brave, or all cowardly? Are we all a mixture of contradictions? What about the testimony against Jesus? Who convenes an emergency nighttime meeting? Does the lying and contradictory testimony stop them? In all this, what important prophecy gets repeated? What did they think He was talking about? Compare Isa. 53:3, 7.
61, this is THE question. Jesus gives a clear answer: He is God in the flesh. Why did they think this was blasphemy? It WOULD be if He was not who He claimed to be. Was this question asked so they could finally know and believe? They are establishing what charge against Him? Jewish law requires the death penalty. 65, an ugly picture, how man is treating God. Apparently Peter witnesses all this; we can only imagine what he is thinking and feeling.
66-72 Peter's denial. Curse/swear doesn't imply foul language, but rather swearing something is true or not, with a curse like we might say "I'll be damned if..." What was Peter's response to his sin? Did he rationalize, blame someone else, make an excuse? He was humbled, broken, repentant. Might this failure haunt him the rest of his life, wondering if he could do it again? Did it stop him from doing great things for God? Might we get hung up on our sins and failures? Is it OK to have continued feelings of guilt for things we have confessed, to wallow in our guilt? Satan uses those feelings as a snare.
1-5 In the morning Jesus is taken to Pilate; Matthew identifies him as the governor, but Mark, writing to the Romans, skips that information. The Jews are not permitted, under Roman rule, to carry out a death penalty, so they must get the Romans to bring a death penalty. The question and answer, 2, are similar to 14:61-62. Jesus clearly states who He is. 5, again we think of Isaiah's prophecy. Why does Jesus not defend Himself?
6-15 Did the crowd really want Barabbas, 11? They are easily manipulated; be careful of getting caught up in a crowd mentality. 15, why is Pilate willing to punish an innocent man? Rome does not consider Him a criminal worthy of death but goes along with injustice; do we see this today, or the opposite?
16-20 Jesus is mocked and beaten--was such cruelty found only in Rome?
21-26 After all this, He needs help to carry the cross. Rom. 16:13, did Simon become a believer? Where have we read about myrrh before? It was an embalming agent and is used here to relieve pain. Psa. 22:18. The third hour was 9 A.M. The sign was not a declaration but to mock Him.
27-32 The crucifixion. 24, fulfilled prophecy. 29, were they talking about His body, as He had been? 31, did they inadvertently speak truth in their mockery? 32, was this true?
33-36 34, had God the Father forsaken Him? Why--what important event is happening? All the sins of the world have been placed on Him, on God in the flesh, at this moment--what a horror. But people misunderstand His words, and start carrying on about Elijah. Does anyone see or understand what is really taking place at this moment? even His mother or disciples?
37-39 Jesus dies, after how long? Death by crucifixion could take two or three days; what does Mat. 27:50 say to that--was His life taken from Him? The veil, very tall and about two feet thick, is torn without human hands, signifying what? The way into the Holy of Holies is now open to all men. The centurion's testimony. Read Psa. 69:1-21, Psa. 22:1-18, Isa. 53, Heb. 9.
40-47 Besides the twelve, He had many disciples/followers, including women. 42, the Sabbath began at nightfall on Friday; is this saying Friday before nightfall, or the previous day, Thursday? Many believe Jesus died Thursday, not Friday. What do we learn about Joseph? And what in John 19:38? Some say Jesus didn't really die on the cross; 44-45, here is the report from the man who would know. 47, why did they need to know where He was laid?
For this chapter, I have leaned heavily on and am grateful for commentaries, especially of Dr. Thomas Constable at studylight.org.
1-8 When is the Sabbath over? At nightfall Saturday. So they come the next morning. Who is the young man in white? He explains and reminds them of Jesus' words. "And Peter" is only found in Mark's account; we see Jesus reaching out to him, letting him know he is not finished. How do the women react?
How does the church memorialize this event? It has nothing to do with changing the Sabbath, as some claim; Sabbath means seventh, and Saturday is still the seventh day of the week. If indeed Sunday was now the Sabbath--the day of rest, no work permitted--and if we were still under the Law, we should be stoned to death if we do any yardwork or cooking after church.
9-20 Some translations show these verses in brackets. The earliest manuscripts do not contain these verses, yet early Christian writers do refer to them. Perhaps Mark was unable to finish his work, or perhaps the last leaf was lost. It does seem that if Mark had ended with 8, it would be abrupt and incomplete.
What had already happened? What had the disciples been doing? Why might they not believe her? Why might they not believe these two either? Jesus appears to them--"the eleven" would be a reference to the group, not the exact number, because Thomas was not present. He rebukes their unbelief; was "doubting Thomas" any worse than the rest? We may wonder why the first eyewitnesses were not the disciples. Constable speculates that perhaps God intended for them to understand how hard it is to believe someone could rise from the dead based on the testimony of others, so as they went out to preach, they could understand how hard it was for people to accept their testimony. Is this still the issue today? What is the eyewitness testimony we have today, that many reject? At the final judgment, unbelievers will be held accountable "for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen."
The Great Commission: the church, unlike Israel, has been sent out as missionaries. God is now dealing with the Gentiles, with all nations, not just the Jews. We see a change of dispensations; Israel was told to fear the true God and keep all the Law, but now what does God require?
At that time, baptism was the immediate public proclamation of faith, like today people go forward in church to tell that they just believed. For them, believing and being baptized were practically one and the same. Today most are baptized some time later, often after taking a class on fundamental doctrines or after being examined by church leadership.
The key word in 17 is "signs," which means "attesting miracles." Attesting miracles were part the ministry of Jesus and the disciples, who will now be sent out as apostles. They were for the establishing of the authority of Jesus the establishing of the church, of the new dispensation. They gave proof that the disciples/apostles had Jesus's authority. This is not a command for Christians to do these things. They had already cast out demons and would continue to do so, and as they preached to all nations, God would miraculously give them the ability to speak those languages. We have no record in the early church of people casting out demons other than apostles. Purposely picking up serpents or drinking poison would contradict what Jesus taught in Mat. 4:6-7. Paul had an encounter with a snake but did not do it on purpose for show, Acts 28:3-5. There is no record of anyone drinking poison. The message is that God would supernaturally provide for their ministry and protection. God's full written revelation has been given; today there is no more need for supernatural attesting signs. Now the focus is to be on truth, on correct doctrine.
In Acts 1, the disciples did see Jesus ascending. He is now seated at the right hand of God, sharing His authority, interceding for us. The apostles, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, did indeed obey the Great Commission. Again we are told that miraculous signs were given to attest that they were operating in God's power and by His authority as they laid the doctrinal foundation of the early church.
Copyright 2022 Jan Young
Return to Jan's Bible Notes