Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark bible study introduction (August 1, 2023)
Updated: Oct 4
Good morning to you Dear Ones in Christ. May His Peace reign in your life every day!
Today we begin the bible study of the Gospel of Mark. (Please note that I will also be offering a Bible study on Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther in the middle of October on Thursdays.) For many years a debate has gone on and on about whether Matthew or Mark was the first written of the Gospels. Did Mark provide source material for Matthew or was it the other way around. It is not a debate for which we have an answer. These two Gospels along with Luke are usually called the Synoptic Gospels. The word synoptic comes from two Greek words that mean, "to see together". So, the conversation over who sourced whom continues, but it is obvious that they shared a common source perhaps provided by the disciples themselves, or maybe Mark was a believer who followed Jesus from outside of His inner circle of disciples. If we see Mark as the first written, then we must look at why that appears to be possible. Mark can be divided into 105 sections. (re: William Barclay), of which 93 occur in Matthew, and 81 occur in Luke. Mark is 661 verses of which Matthew's 1068 verses cover 606, Luke has which has 1149 verses which cover 332. The amazing thing is that what may not be covered in Matthew, is in all likelihood covered in Luke. The other two Gospels cover all but 4 sections of Mark's 105. This maybe a bit confusing, but it really does make a strong case for Mark being the first written.
What about Mark as the Gospel's author? Acts 12:12 indicates that Mark was the son of a well-to-do lady in Jerusalem whose name was Mary. Her home was a rallying-point and meeting place for the early church. So, Mark, from his earliest years, was brought up in a Christian home. In Acts 12:25 Mark, who we discover is the nephew of Barnabas, set out with Paul and Barnabas on the first of many missionary Journeys. At some point in that journey, Mark left Paul and Barnabas to head back to Jerusalem. When it was time to set out on a second missionary journey when Barnabas wanted to have Mark try again, Paul refused to bring the quitter with them, and that caused a rift between the two of them that appears to never have been bridged. (Acts 15:37-40) Later in Paul's imprisonment in Rome we find that Mark has become a faithful servant of the Gospel, and that Paul trusts him and want Mark to continue Paul's missionary work. Of course, Mark's Gospel must have also had a source that the content of the Gospel contained. A second century man, Papias, who felt compelled to learn about the early church, and he says that Mark's material came directly from the sermons of Peter in Jerusalem. Peter would have been present frequently in Mark's family home.
What might you and I find, (and probably more) in the Gospel as we undertake this study?
Mark's writing is precise and passionate about the life of Jesus.
Mark never forgot the divinity of Jesus. His beginning in the first passage, "The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God!" The people were amazed at Jesus. To Mark Jesus was not simply a man among men. He was God in the midst of His People! He moved the hearts of men through His Words and Deeds.
However, Mark also sees Jesus as the consummate human, the carpenter, the compassionate healer, frequently hungry when he worked long into every night.
Mark also provides vivid detail about Jesus. (9:30) when he not only sets a child in the midst of the people but picks him up to hold him. Mark paints Jesus's humanity with details that bring Him close to all of your hearts.
From Mark the story of Jesus comes to us as if it is being told by a child who is filled with excitement about every detail of who Jesus is and how he interacts with people.
His use of the word "And" at the beginning of passages with that story being pushed forward more quickly than we might expect. And then, and then… Mark likes the word immediately which is used 30 times.
As we begin, we need to remember that the earliest pieces, literally, of this Gospel are small fragments of text. We have no complete text until much later in the life of the Church. But the fragments and the later texts have been found to match.
Now that the basics have been set before us, we will continue next Monday and Tuesday morning with Mark 1:1-8.
Thank you for joining me once again. I know that there will be nothing but blessing for our faith through this study of Mark.
In Christ's Love, Pastor Kim