Background Lesson Sheet

Jesus The Miracle Working Servant


     Mark, the son of a certain Mary of Jerusalem (Acts 12:12)
has been accredited by early historians as the author of this

     1.   Acts 12:12   His mother was Mary and from the facts
that she had large living facilities and servants attending the
door, she appears to have been well off and probably an
influential member in the early Jerusalem church.  It has been
suggested that the upper room used by Jesus for the last supper
may have been at her home and it continued as a meeting place
for the apostles (cf. Acts 1:13).

     2.   John Mark was also a nephew of Barnabas, a Levite of
Cyprus (Acts 4:36,37; Colossians 4:10).  He started with
Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey but returned
to Jerusalem half way through the trip (Acts 13:13).

     3.   There was a strong controversy between Barnabas and
Paul over taking John Mark with them on the second journey
(Acts 15:36-39).  Mark went with Barnabas to Cyprus and Paul
took Silas as his traveling companion.

     4.   Later we see Mark working with Paul and in his good
favor (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 24).  Paul in writing his last
letter just before his death requested Mark to come and help him
(2 Timothy 4:11).  Thus it appears that any early friction was
removed when Mark proved himself a capable and trustworthy

     5.   Mark also worked with Peter and may have been one of
his converts.  He  was much the "son" to Peter that Timothy was
to Paul.  He was with Peter in Babylon (1 Peter 5:13).

     6.   Many believe the young man of Mark 14:51-53 was none
other than the young Mark himself.

     1.   Papias, a pupil of the apostle John, says that Mark wrote
down exactly, without mistake, the words and deeds of Christ
though not in order.  Papias says that Mark himself did not hear
the Lord but wrote down the substance of Peter's preaching.

     2.   An early tract (the "Anti-Marcionite Prologue" c.
160-180 AD) says that Mark wrote this gospel down shortly after
Peter's death so his preaching could be preserved.

     3.   Another source (the Muratorian Canon, c. 200 AD)
represents the gospel as having been written during Peter's
lifetime.  Through the writing was done without Peter's
hindrance or encouragement, he later encouraged it to be read
in the churches.

     4.   Irenaeus (180 AD) writes "And after their [i.e. Peter's
and Paul's] death Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter,
himself handed down to us in writing the things preached by

     5.   Thus we may date the book c. 55 AD - 70 AD.

                                    Four Accounts of the Gospel

     Mark is the briefest of the four gospels.  It presents Jesus
acting rather than speaking.

     1.   Matthew's gospel is heavily Jewish oriented [ many OT

     2.   Mark's gospel seems directed toward Latin speaking

     3.   Luke's gospel was for the Greek Gentiles.

     4.   John wrote to give the church the teachings of Christ
          (and that men might become believers, John 20:31).

     In critical circles many try to show Mark's gospel was the
first and that Matthew and Luke used his material and simply
elaborated more.  Others take the opposite view that Matthew
was first and Mark took his gospel and abbreviated it.

     Since there are several passages in each that are identical
word for word, some reason that one must have copied from the
other (cf. the feeding of the 5000, Matthew 14:12-21; Mark
6:30-44; Luke 9:10-17; or the healing of the paralytic, 
Matt. 9:1-8; Mark 2:1-12; Luke 5:17-26).

     But let us not forget that these "gospels" were probably the
same as the preaching substance of the apostles.  They preached
being led by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 10:19-20; John 14:26;
16:13) and the authors wrote by the power of the same Holy
Spirit (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:16).  It is only likely that the
Holy Spirit would guide them in similar words describing the
same thing.

     Sermons repeated have a way of becoming a formula.  These
gospel sermons were probably preached alike, much of it alike
word for word, by all the apostles.  They were much repeated
sermons.  When Mark wrote down by the Spirit's guidance the
sermons of Peter he wrote down also what Matthew was
preaching and writing, what Luke was hearing preached also,

     Because there are identical passages doesn't mean one
copied from the other, it can mean that they got their material
from the same source   the Holy Spirit, who is the true author
of these gospels.


     Mark is the briefest of the four gospels.  It is a narrative of
dynamic actions.  Jesus is presented as "doing" rather than

1.   "Straightway" and "immediately" are used more than 40

2.   Mark repeatedly speaks of the impact, the awe, and
     astonishment that Jesus made on the mind and heart of those
     who heart him. cf. Mark 1:22; 1:27; 4:41; 6:51; 10:24, 26,

3.   Mark tells us more about the emotions of Jesus than other

     a.   Jesus sighed deeply in His spirit   7:34; 8:12.

     b.   He was moved with compassion   6:31.

     c.   He marveled at their unbelief   6:6.

     d.   He was moved with righteous anger   3:5; 8:33; 10:14.

     e.   Only Mark tells us that when Jesus looked upon the rich
          young ruler He loved him   10:21.

     f.   Jesus could feel the pangs of hunger   11:12.

     g.   He could be tired and needing rest   6:31.

4.   Mark repeatedly inserts little vivid details which are the
       hall-marks of an eye-witness.

     a.   Cf.. the added detail to Matthew 18:2 found in Mark

     b.   Cf.. Matthew 19:13-15; Luke 18:15-17 and Mark 10:13-16.

     c.   Mark alone tells how the 5,000 were seated, and how
          they looked like plots of vegetable rows in a garden  

     d.   Cf.. Jesus and disciples on their last journey to Jerusalem
            Matthew 20:17; Luke 18:31 with Mark 10:32.

     e.   In the story of Jesus stilling the tempest Mark adds one
          little sentence that makes the picture vivid before our
          eyes   4:38a.

5.   Mark is very fond of the historic present.  He speaks of
     events in the present tense instead of the past.

6.   Mark often gives us the very Aramaic words Jesus spoke. 
     Again this is indicative of an eye-witness.  Mark always then
     gives the interpretation of those Aramaic words revealing to
     us he is writing for non-Hebrews.  (cf. Mark 5:41; 7:34;
     7:11; 14:36; 15:34).

     [These were probably the times when Peter could hear again
     the very sound of Jesus' voice, and could not help giving in
     his sermons the very words that Jesus uttered.]

7.   Mark made more use of Latin loanwords than the other
     gospel accounts and some occur in the New Testament only
     in Mark. [Note also the evidence of Mark 15:21 and Romans
     16:13 which ties his gospel to a Roman audience.]

8.   Mark presents Jesus being addressed as Rabbi or Teacher
     whereas Matthew and Luke represent Jesus as being
     addressed by the title "Lord."  Some say Matthew and Luke
     reflect the post-resurrection practice while Mark is faithful
     to the pre-resurrection way of addressing Jesus.


1.   Purpose   The very first verse of Mark provides a clear
     indication of the writer's purpose.  It was to set forth "the
     good news" to bear witness to Jesus as the Messiah and the
     Son of God.

2.   Outline  

          I.   The Servant's Coming                           1:1-13
          II.  The Servant's Work                             1:14 - 13:37
               A.   Beginning of the Galilean Ministry          1:14 - 3:6
               B.   Later stages of the Galilean Ministry       3:7 - 6:13
               C.   Jesus goes outside Galilee                  6:14 - 8:26
               D.   The way to Jerusalem                        8:27 - 10:42
               E.   Ministry in Jerusalem                       11:1 - 13:37
          III. The Servant's Death                            14:1 -15:47
          IV.  The Servant's Resurrection                     16:1 -20

3.   Miracles   Mark shows Jesus as the miracle-working
     Servant of God attending to man.  Mark's picture is a motion
     picture showing Jesus in action, moving men to God!

     The Gospel of Mark records 35 miracles that Jesus worked.

          17 miracles of physical healing
          9 miracles over forces of nature
          6 specific instances of expulsions of demons
          3 raised from the dead

     Most of our Lord's miracles, however, are unrecorded (cf.
     Matthew 14:23; Luke 4:40; Matthew 15:30-31; 19:1-2; Luke
     6:17=19; Mark 1:32-34; and John 21:15, etc.)

     The Purpose of the miracles was to authenticate the servant
     as the Son of God.  (John 15:24; 20:30, 31; Mark 16:20;
     Hebrews 2:3-4).                                                                 -- Windell Gann

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