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The Gospel of Mark

[Outline Form Only]

Scholars consider John Mark’s account of Jesus’ life to be that of the Apostle Peter.  It is the shortest gospel and also the most chronological. It covers only the time that Peter would have known about Jesus.

All I’ve done here is provide what I believe to be a unique outline of Mark’s gospel.  It is different from any commentary I’ve read.  The outline speaks for itself relating the truths Jesus taught by revealing, describing, and defining who He is, what He came to do, and how He wants us to live.  I have based this outline on descriptions, but these descriptions of happenings and teachings define and reveal.  So where I use the word described you may prefer to use the word defined or revealed.

I. Earthly Preparation Described Mark 1:1-20

  1. John the Baptist      [The Pronouncement]            Mark 1:1-8
  2. Jesus Baptized         [The Commission]                 Mark 1:9-13
  3. Disciples Chosen     [The Team]                            Mark1:14-20

If one were to start a new initiative in business, or any organization for that matter, you would start in the very same manner; announcing, commissioning and authorizing the leader, and choosing a team to train and help carry out the overall objective.

This represents the sixth of eight new beginnings after original creation namely; Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Nehemiah/Ezra/Zurubbabel, JESUS [first advent], the Holy Spirit at Pentecost/Church, and Jesus Christ [Second Advent].

II. Ministry Described Mark 1:21-3:34

  1. Teaching with Authority                                       Mark 1:21-22
  2. Casting out Demons [Spiritual]                             Mark 1:23-28; 3:7-12
  3. Healing [Physical]                                                 Mark 1:29-32, 40-49     Mark 2:1-12; 3:1-6
  4. Praying and Preaching                                          Mark 1:33-39
  5. Confronting Religious Leaders                             Mark 2:6-12, 23-28     Mark 3:20-30
  6. Answering Honest Questions                                Mark 2:18-22
  7. Rubbing Shoulders with Sinners                          Mark 2:13-17
  8. Redefining Family and Purpose                           Mark 3:31-34

All these examples show and tell how He did ministry and, therefore, how we are to do ministry on His behalf.  It involves correct teaching [sound doctrine], healing both spiritual and physical needs, prayer [required for both energy and effectiveness], confronting error, love, and understanding that God’s family is a higher priority than our own family.  Effective ministry requires “singleness of purpose” and that, more often than not, means ones personal family will suffer from lack of attention.  It helps if your family members understand that His family is more important than their family and actually participate in His ministry.  But there is bound to be tension from time to time and feelings of not being loved or being left out.  It is difficult for fallen humanity to be completely selfless. That is why the chosen minister must also be sensitive to the needs of his/her family and strive for a Godly balance of the Lord’s will for ministry and the Lord’s will concerning his/her family. That is why practicing the “presence of God” through prayer is so critical to surviving in full time Christian service.

III. Kingdom Described Mark 4:1-34

  1. Parable of the Sower/Soils                                    Mark 4:1-20
  2. Lamp on a Stand                                                   Mark 4:21-25
  3. Growing Seed                                                       Mark 4:26-29
  4. Mustard Seed                                                        Mark 4:30-34

The purpose of these parables is to give us information regarding the Kingdom of God.  Jesus’ message was “the Kingdom of God is near”.  The Parable of the Sower talks about the receptiveness of one’s heart.  It also tells us who is most likely to be a member of God’s Kingdom.  People interpret this in at least three ways; the seed that falls on good soil are the only ones to receive eternal life; the seed that is sown among the thorns along with the seed sown in the good soil are the ones to receive eternal life; and some say that the seed that falls on rocky soil along with that of the good soil and the thorns will all inherit eternal life.  I believe the best interpretation is that the seeds of the good soil represent those who truly belong to the Kingdom of God.  There is no question ever about the good soil/ the humble and soft heart.  The seed among the thorns still is alive at the harvest even though it doesn’t bear fruit.  Because it doesn’t bear fruit [“by their fruit you shall know them”], I believe these people are not members of the Kingdom.  These people practice Christianity but are more identified with the world/themselves than with Christ.  They think they belong but God says “I never knew you” [Matt.7:21-23]. The seed on the rocky soil takes root and dies at the first sign of trouble.  These are people who hear the Word but fail to respond in faith such as Judas Iscariot and the people of Hebrews 6 who have fallen away.  They like what they hear but they refuse to repent of their sin and follow Christ. They do not recognize the great love and sacrifice God made when He sent His Son to die for our sins.  However, some argue that because the seed died and did grow temporarily that they too are part of the Kingdom.  Most everybody I know agrees that the seed that fell on the path never enters the Kingdom because they fail to become “true grain”.  Which interpretation you take is not as important as striving to be the seed that takes root in the good soil [heart condition], whose faith is strong and can withstand the storms of life, bearing much fruit.  That is what God desires for each of us.

The other parables talk about the Kingdom being a witness to all, a light for all to see; a finite, growing, vibrant body providing shelter and comfort to all, and harvested unto eternal life at the appointed time.

IV. Jesus Described Mark 4:35-5:43

  1. Power over Nature                                                 Mark 4:35-41
  2. Power over Evil Spirits                                          Mark 5:1-20
  3. Power over Sickness                                              Mark 5:21-34
  4. Power over Death                                                  Mark 5:35-43

These incidents serve the purpose to reveal that Jesus is the Son of God, Omnipotent; having control over what He has created and over what has happened to His creation as a result of sin.  He is omnipotent over creation, good and evil, sickness and health, and life and death.  He is God.  He is a loving God, a compassionate God, a merciful God, a kind God, a good God, a patient God.  Later on we will learn He is also a just God and a suffering God.

The scripture concerning His power over nature [Mark 4:35-41] is interesting in that we ask “why is Jesus so hard on the disciples when they ask for His help?”  Jesus asks that we come to Him with all our concerns but here He rebukes the disciples for their lack of faith.  Without going into a long explanation, let me say that Jesus expects us to come to Him in a spirit of assurance and not a spirit of anxiety.  He hears, He answers, He is faithful, He protects, He supports, He comforts, and He will do even more than we think to ask.  That’s what happened here.  The disciples wanted Him to help bail but He calmed the storm.  When you pray, pray with an attitude of assurance for He is sure.  You will find that your prayers will change and that your prayer life will be more meaningful.  Mine did.

V. Challenges Described Mark 6:1-7:23

  1. Challenges at Home                                               Mark 6:1-12
  2. Challenges from Cities                                           Mark 6:7-13
  3. Challenges from Rulers/Authorities                       Mark 6:14-29
  4. Challenges from Crowds                                       Mark 6:30-44
  5. Challenges from Nature                                         Mark 6:45-56
  6. Challenges from Religious Tradition                      Mark 7:1-13
  7. Challenges from Sin within the heart                    Mark 7:14-23

This portion of Scripture tells us that authentic, credible, loving, genuine Godly ministry will face challenges.  It will be challenged by those who know us best. Sometimes it will be rejected.  Authorities will do us harm for their own good will.  Some will pressure us to do more when we need rest.  Some ministries will involve physical labor.  Man’s religious tradition will get in the way of Truth.  Therefore, we must be on guard because we are sinful by nature.

Our challenge is to make sure we don’t change the gospel message when we change the presentation.  Tradition is good but it must not stand in the way of presenting the gospel.  The message must remain pure, unblemished, steadfast, true to Scripture, and true to Christ’s life and teaching.  It will be hard work. There will be setbacks.  But there will also be times of great rejoicing.

VI. Faith Described Mark 7:24-8:30

  1. Faith of the Greek Woman                                                Mark 7:24-35
  2. Faith of the Deaf and Mute Man                           Mark 7:31-36
  3. Faith of the Multitude                                            Mark 8:1-10
  4. Faith of the Pharisees                                             Mark 8:11-21
  5. Faith of the Blind Man                                           Mark 8:22-26
  6. Faith of the Disciples [Peter]                                  Mark 8:27-30

Just how does one describe Faith?  In these examples we see faith and miracles together. In fact, faith is a miracle.  The common thread is action.  Like love, faith here is a verb and not a noun.  In three of the examples [A, B, and E] we see that “begging” on behalf of a person was involved.  So friends petitioning on behalf of another person, exercising their Faith, is important too.  There is an underlying attitude of expectancy, seeking, hopefulness, and assuredness.  Intercession and humility are important.  In the case of the Pharisees, they exhibited no faith except the faith they had in themselves and in their laws.  All the other examples express faith in a person; Jesus.  A true expression of faith means that self takes a back seat to Jesus.  Faith results in miracles; miracles of a physical nature and miracles of a spiritual nature as was expressed by Peter.  Faith also is patient and forbearing, waiting on the Lord as did the multitude.  Faith, true faith, is for the long run.  True faith isn’t here today and gone tomorrow because something didn’t happen on our timetable.  Faith is an active life long profession that Jesus is the Christ who meets all our physical and spiritual needs.

VII. Discipleship Described Mark 8:31-10:52

  1. Committed to following Christ                             Mark 8:31-38
  2. Sees God’s Glory and Listens                               Mark 9:1-12
  3. Believes in Jesus and Prays                                    Mark 9:13-32
  4. Humble Servant                                                     Mark 9:33-35
  5. Hospitable                                                              Mark 9:36-37
  6. Ministers in Jesus’ Name                                        Mark 9:38-41
  7. Blameless living                                                     Mark 9:42-50
  8. Unadulterated Lifestyle                                         Mark 10:1-12
  9. Faith like a Child                                                     Mark 10:13-16
  10. Free from Idols [possessions]                                  Mark 10:17-31
  11. A willing Sacrifice                                                 Mark 10:32-34
  12. Suffering Servant                                                   Mark 10:35-45
  13. Seeks God’s Mercy to see clearly                         Mark 10:46-52

These attributes are self-explanatory.  We just need to recognize what is required of a true disciple.  It does involve a change in attitude and lifestyle.  The real questions are a.] Which ones have you mastered? b.] Which ones do you need to master? and c.] Do you have the desire to master any at all?  If you lack any desire to practice these attributes, you have to question whether or not you are a true Christian.  The Christian life is not easy.  Jesus said “count the cost”. But following Christ is a real joy, a privilege, peaceful, full of hope, and being assured of fellowshipping with Him eternally in heaven.  You will experience true Love first hand and be able to love yourself and others just as He loved us. That is the ministry into which He has called His Disciples.

I trust you consider yourself one of His.  If not, He is walking by right now.  Cry out to Him for mercy [asking His forgiveness for your sins], begin to see clearly just who He is, and follow Him.

[Mark 10:46-52]

VIII. The King of Kings Described Mark 11:1-12:44

  1. The King Comes
    The King enters triumphantly                     Mark 11:1-11
  2. The King Cleanses
    The King purges the Temple                       Mark 11:12-19
  3. The King Clarifies
  • The King grants authority                           Mark 11:20-24
  • The King promotes forgiveness                  Mark 11:25-26
  • The King suppresses rebellion                     Mark 11:27-33
  • The King exercises judgment                      Mark 12:1-12
  • The Kings Kingdom is autonomous           Mark 12:13-17
  • The King exercises patience                        Mark 12:18-27
  • The King’s commandments                        Mark 12:28-34
  • The King warns against the proud              Mark 12:35-40
  • The King exalts the humble                        Mark 12:41-44

These incidents in the life of Jesus cover Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday before His death.  In many ways it is the basic message that the King came to deliver.  It also gives us an indication of what is going to happen during the millennial reign of Christ on earth.  Remember, God is the same yesterday, today and in the future.  He came to Israel in the past, He comes to us through our heart today, and He comes to reign over all nations in the future.  But in coming, He comes in triumph to rule; to rule in our heart and/or to rule over His creation.  Once He comes, His first order of business is to rid us of sin, to cleanse us from unrighteousness and to make us new creatures.  In the future, He will rid the earth of all evil while He reigns for 1000 years.  While He reigns [in our hearts or during the millennium], He will delegate authority to His children [disciples], He will promote forgiveness and peace, He will quell rebellion, exercise judgment, and teach us that His Kingdom is not of this world.  He will exercise patience in hope that all may come to glorify His name.  He will teach us the basics.  His rules are simple; straightforward.  Those who are humble will be exalted over the proud.  This passage shows just who the real King of Creation is and how He operates.  He first came as a humble servant, our Savior.  He will come again as a conquering king.  He is the King of Kings.  Bow down before Him and worship Him.

IX. End Times Described Mark 13:1-36

  1. Temple destroyed                                                  Mark 13:1-2
  2. False Messiah’s                                                      Mark 13:3-6
  3. Wars, earthquakes, and famine                              Mark 13:7-8
  4. Persecution                                                             Mark 13:9
  5. Gospel preached to all nations                               Mark 13:10-11
  6. Family destruction                                                  Mark 13:12-13
  7. Evil rules over good                                               Mark 13:14-20
  8. False witnesses                                                       Mark 13:21-23
  9. Creation disturbed                                                   Mark 13:24-25
  10. Son of Man comes   [Second Advent]                    Mark 13:26-27
  11. This is the “last act” [generation]                           Mark 13:28-31
  12. Actual date and time known only by God             Mark 13:32-36

This passage along with similar passages in Matthew and Luke give much detail regarding the “End Times”.  Some look at this passage in a chronological fashion but I prefer to look at it more generally.  Jesus is explaining what is coming after He ascends back to heaven.  This passage contains both specifics and generalities.  He specifically tells us what is going to happen but not exactly when it will happen.

In general, He is saying:

  1. Times will be tough.
  2. He is coming again to rescue us.
  3. Be steadfast, watch, be alert because the actual time is known only by God, the Father.

We should not be surprised with war, false prophets, earthquakes, famine persecution, family problems, deceit, lies, the rise of evil acts etc.  But He has also promised to be with us until the end.  He is faithful.  We are to be faithful regardless of our circumstances and let the Holy Spirit live through us.

More specifically He is saying:

  1. The temple as they know it will be destroyed. [happened]
  2. The Church will be established to preach the Gospel. [happening]
  3. The Anti-Christ will come and demand man to worship him instead of God. This is the “abomination that causes desolation” described in Daniel.
  4. There will be unusual happenings in the universe and our solar system.
  5. The Son of Man, The Christ, will return for ALL to see. There will be no doubt who He is.

[These next five paragraphs are not necessarily gleaned from Mark’s gospel but represent my view of the “end times” from the whole of scripture.]

Many scholars agree, and other scriptures support it, that the “last days” represent the period of time between Christ’s resurrection and His coming again.  Another past popular interpretation was that the “last days” also represented the 70th week of Daniels’ prophecy.  Most Christians today believe that we live in an “age of Grace” or the “age of the Gentiles” and that sometime in the future Daniel’s 70th week will begin, a seven year period of Tribulation.  This seven year period is spit into two 3 ½ year periods separated by a single event, the abomination that causes desolation.  The first period is often referred to The Tribulation and the second period is the Great Tribulation.  During the first 3 ½ years we have man doing much evil against man.  During the last 3 ½ years we have God’s wrath being poured out against man in judgment.

There are also two other terms used in scripture; the Day of the Lord and the Day of Wrath.  Be careful not to change the definition of these terms in interpreting what the scripture says about the “end times”.  I believe that one cannot use these terms to mean a period greater than the last 3 ½ years and that they are probably much shorter in duration and closer to the “end”.  The Day of the Lord takes place during the final battles as Christ returns to set up His millennial Kingdom on earth.

Scripture doesn’t say much about the rapture of the saints. The rapture is alluded to only in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.  The gospels, including Mark, do not refer to it. Christians tend to make more of it than it is.  I don’t think it is a big event because God is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow.  He has great patience, wanting all man to be born again and accept Him as Savior and Lord.  He did not destroy the world until only Noah and his family was found righteous.  He did not destroy Sodom and Gomorrah until only Lot and his family was considered righteous.  He started over again with Abraham which became Israel.  He started over and over again with Israel after they had completely backslidden from His statutes.  The Church began when Israel failed to respond to Jesus, the incarnate God.  So I don’t believe the rapture will take place until the Church’s witness becomes  ineffective/lukewarm.  [see Luke 18:8, II Thessalonians 2 and the Laodicean church of Rev.3]  With the Church gone, evil will begin to reign.  There will be no earthly force through the Spirit of God to hold it back. Only then can the Anti-Christ gain the upper hand and set out to be like God.

Many believe the rapture will take place before the tribulation period.  I believe it will take place during the last 3 ½ years, after the abomination that causes destruction and before God’s wrath begins.  There are many antichrists but Paul says we will know the Anti-Christ that is the abomination before we are caught up to meet Him in the sky.  We could know him sooner, when he sets up his contract with Israel [Dan.9:27; Dan. 8:25] but I believe the deceit and chaos will be so great that we will reach the midpoint of the tribulation.  Plus God says we would all fall if He did not cut short the days of wrath.  So I believe we Christians will go through some of the last seven year period.

As history passes, viewpoints change and mine may change too.  But this is how I see it today.  I do not claim to have all the answers.  Remember; be consistent in your definition of terms within the context of scripture.  God did not give us all the details.  Do not add to the Word of God and do not subtract from the Word of God.

X. Sacrifice Described [The Lamb of God] Mark 14:1-15:47

  1. Annointed with Oil                                                  Mark 14:1-9
  2. Betrayed by Judas                                                  Mark 14:10-21
  3. Symbolized in the Last Supper                              Mark 14:22-26
  4. Temporarily Forsaken                                            Mark 14:27-31     Mark 14:66-72
  5. Prepared through prayer                                         Mark 14:32-42
  6. Identified                                                                Mark 14:43-51
  7. Falsely accused                                                      Mark 14:52-65
  8. Falsely tried                                                           Mark 15:1-15
  9. Mocked                                                                   Mark 15:16-20
  10. Killed                                                                       Mark 15:21-41
  11. Buried                                                                     Mark 15:42-47

This is one of the most memorable times in the life of the disciples; even to us.  Of significance is where this account begins, in the house of Simon, the leper.  This is the same town that Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, lived.  They were in attendance that Wednesday and John’s gospel indicates that it was Mary who anointed her Lord, raising the ire of Judas Iscariot.  In this account we see the key elements of the sacrifice.

  1. The sacrifice was CHOSEN by God; His unblemished sinless Son, Jesus.
  2. The sacrifice was SET APART and HONORED through this dinner and anointing.
  3. The sacrifice was PREPARED through prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.
  4. The sacrifice was SELECTED and SUFFERED through persecution.
  5. The sacrifice was KILLED and His blood given for our sin.

But this is not the end of the story; it is the beginning. The next section tells of His resurrection, one of the founding principles of the Christian faith.  Paul wrote “without the resurrection, our faith is in vain”.

XI. Resurrection Described Mark 16:1-20

  1. His empty tomb                                                     Mark 16:1-8
  2. He appeared to many disciples                              Mark 16:9-14
  3. He commissioned His disciples                              Mark 16:15-18
  4. He ascended into heaven                                       Mark 16:19
  5. He empowered His disciples                                  Mark 16:20

Here are five specific proofs that Jesus rose from the dead.  He was seen by his inner circle of disciples and also by others.  Other scriptures give more detail but none contradict what happened.  Some refuse to believe regardless of the evidence.  Others approach the resurrection with an open mind, objective, and willing to accept the facts.  Others are given faith without even considering the facts.  Those that accept the facts, believe, and have faith are ushered into His Kingdom, declared righteous before Him, and have eternal life with God.  Those who refuse to consider the facts; refuse to believe, miss out on the greatest miracle of all time; fellowship with our Creator God, The Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.  Examine the facts and believe.

As I stated at the beginning, this is a different approach to Mark’s gospel.  It looks at the book from a birds-eye point of view.  It is somewhat thematic and general in nature. I tried to discover themes that were important to following Christ, providing continuity for the whole book. I kept asking the question “What did Jesus come to show us”?  There is a lot more depth in what is written by Mark when you begin to look into the detail.  So take this outline, understand its’ approach and then begin to study Mark’s gospel in greater depth, absorbing all that it teaches.

1. The Son of Man, The Christ, will return for ALL to see. There will be no doubt who He is.

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