Mark 1-3

Mark 1:1 is "the beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God." It starts with the story of John the Baptist, who provided "the voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'" (Is 40:3) Many came to John and were baptized, but he claimed to be preparing the way for one greater, "the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie." Jesus came and was baptized, and he saw "the Spirit descending on him like a dove" and a voice said "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." Jesus was led by the spirit into the desert, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days.

Jesus began his ministry in Galilee, proclaiming the good news that "the kingdom of God is near." He called disciples Simon and Andrew, telling them that he would "make you fishers of men." Next, he called James and John, the sons of Zebedee. In Capernaum, he went in to the synagogue and began to teach "as one who had authority" on the Sabbath. He cast out an evil spirit, and news spread quickly about him. They went to the home of Simon and Andrew and Jesus healed their mother. People gathered around the house and he "healed many who had various diseases. And then he travled through Galilee, preaching and healing. He healed a leper and told him not to tell, but he did and because of that, "Jesus could no longer enter a town openly."

In chapter two, the story of Jesus' ministry continues with the healing of a paralytic. The "teachers of the law" were appalled that he told the paralytic that "your sins are forgiven," but Jesus said to him, "take your mat and go home." The next one he called was Levi, the son of Alphaeus. While eating dinner at Levi's house, he was asked about sitting with "tax collectors and 'sinners'" and he responded that "it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick." When asked about eating on the Sabbath, he gives the first foreshadowing of the crucifixion ("the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast"). When asked about his disciplies picking heads of grain on the Sabbath, he replies that "the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath," and refers to himself, for the first time, as the Son of Man.

Chapter three opens with another healing. Great crowds began to gather around him. He went on to a mountainside "and called to him those he wanted," and appointed twelve that he designated as apostles that he could send out to preach and drive out demons. As another crowd gathered at a meal, the teachers of the law accused him of being possessed by Beelzebub, but he asks, "how can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand." Later, discussing his mother and brothers, he says that "whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."

Thoughts, questions, issues

Mark 4-6

In chapter four, Mark begins with Jesus preaching at the shore, and he shares with his listeners the parable of the sower. Later, he expounds on the meaning of the parable for his disciples. He then relates the parable of the lamp on a stand instead of "under a bowl or a bed." Also the parable of the seed, and the parable of the mustard seed. After those parables, he tells of the crossing of the Galilee, with Jesus asleep in the stern as a storm rose up. His disciples woke him, and he rebuked the storm, and then the disciples - "do you still have no faith?"

Chapter five begin on the other side of the lake in the region of the Gerasenes/Gadarenes. There, the met a man possessed by demons. Jesus asks his name, and the demon replies "Legion, for we are many." Jesus sent the demons out of the man and into a herd of pigs nearby, and the pigs "rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned." The man wanted to go with them but Jesus instructed the man to go home to his family and "tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."

Jesus and his disciples crossed again to the other side of the lake and a large crowd gathered. Jairus, one of the synagogue rulers fell at his geet and pleaded with him to heal his dying daughter. As they were walking to Jairus' house, a woman "who had been subject to bleeding for 12 years" reached out and touched his cloak and was healed. Jesus "realized that power had gone out from him" and turned and asked who had touched him. When the woman told him, he told her that her faith had healed her.

When they reached Jairus' house, they were told that his daughter had died, but Jesus said that she was asleep. He "put them all out" and then took the girl's hand and told her to rise. And she did. He told them not to let anyone know, and to feed her.

In chapter six, Jesus returns to Nazareth, where he taught in the synagogue. But the people there knew him and "he could not do any miracles there," other than some healings. And then he sent out the 12 apostles to preach repentance. They drove out demons and performed healings in his name.

John the Baptist, meanwhile is imprisoned by Herod at the request of Herodias, Herod's brother Philip's wife whom he had married. John had told Herod that marrying his brothers wife was a sin. At a party, Herod offered anything she wanted to Herodias' daughter and she said that she wanted the head of John the Baptist on a platter. So Herod had had him executed.

Jesus preached on a mountainside to 5,000 and fed them from five loaves of bread and two fish. Then he sent the disciples on ahead while he prayed. He then walked across the water to where they were struggling against the wind, and after boarding the boat, calmed the wind.

Thoughts, questions, issues

Mark 7-9

Chapter seven starts with Jesus and his disciples eating a meal. The Pharisees observe them and criticize them for not performing the ritual hand-washing before starting their meal. Jesus tells the Pharisees, in essence, that they have ritualized the law and lost the true meaning. Later, Jesus drives out a demon from the daughter of a woman, "Greek, born in Syrian Phoenicia." He went down to the Sea of Galilee, into the region of Decapolis, and opened the ears of a deaf and mute man. He told the man not to tell anyone but the more he told people that, the more they talked.

In chapter eight, he is again preaching on a mountainside, and again multiplies loaves and fishes, feeding seven thousand. He got into a boat with his disciples and went in to the region of Dalmanutha. There, the Pharisees questioned him again. They demanded of him a sign from heaven. He laments that this generation wanted a sign, and said that no sign would be given. He then crossed again with his disciples. He spoke to them of the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod, but they did not understand. He reminded them of the loaves that fed the 5,000 and the 7,000, but they still did not understand.

At Bethsaida, he healed a blind man. He asked his disciples what people were saying about him. "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets." When he asked them what they thought, Peter said "the Christ." He told them not tell anyone. He then began to teach them that his death would come at the hands of the "elders, chief priests and teachers of the law," and that after three days he would rise again.

In chapter nine, he went up in to a high mountain with Peter, James and John. While there, he was transfigured, garbed in white, "whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them," and Moses and Elijah appeared and spoke with Jesus. A voice then came down and said, "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!"

When they came down to where the other disciples were, a crowd gathered around them. The others had been attempting to drive an evil spirit out of a boy who had suffered from birth, and were unable to. But Jesus did. Later, the disciples asked him why they had been unable to do it, and he answered that "This kind can come out only by prayer." He then taught his disciples that the "Son of Man" will be killed and "and after three days he will rise." They didn't understand, but were afraid to ask. After that, he taught them further, including that everyone who was not against Jesus was for him, and that it was better to lose an eye than to keep it and go to hell.

Mark 10-12

In chapter 10, Jesus is teaching when the Pharisees ask him about divorce. He asks them what Moses had said, to which they replied that a man could divorce his wife. Jesus quotes Genesis (1:27) that "in the beginning, God made them male and female" and that they "will become one flesh (Gen 2:24)." For this reason, "what God has joined together, let man not separate."

His disciples try to keep children away from him, but he rebuked them, saying that "anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it." A rich young man asked what he could do to enter the kingdom of heaven and Jesus told him to sell all his goods and give away his wealth, and follow Jesus. When the young man was saddened, Jesus lamented to his disciples how hard it was for the rich to enter the kingdom of God. When the disciples wondered "who then can be saved?" Jesus responded that "with man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."

James and John asked to set at Jesus' right and left hand "in your glory." Jesus told them that those places belonged "to those for whom they have been prepared." The other apostles were indignant with James and John, but Jesus told them that "whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant...for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." He healed a blind man, Bartimeus, and told him that his faith had healed him.

Chapter 11 tells of Palm Sunday and Jesus' "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem. He told his disciples that there was a house with a colt tied there, and tells them to bring it. They brought it to him and threw their cloaks over it and he sat on it. Some people spread their cloaks on the road while others spread branches. The crowd around him shouted "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" He entered the city and went to the temple, but it was empty, so he went to Bethany with the apostles. In the morning, on the way back to the city, he cursed a fig tree, then went to the temple, where he cleared out the money-lenders and merchants who were profiting from the rituals of God's house. Mark suggests that this was the last straw for the chief priests and they "began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching." On their way back to Bethany, they saw that the fig tree he had cursed had already withered on the spot. The next day, the chief priests challenged him on whose authority he was acting. He asked them, on whose authority did John act? Fearing either answer, they said that they did not know, and Jesus said "neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things."

In chapter 12 he tells his disciples the parable of the tenants. The landowner kept sending representatives to the tenants to collect the rent, but they abused and killed the messengers. Finally, he sent his son, but "they took him and killed him, and threw him out of the vineyard." The chief priests and elders "knew he had spoken the parable against them." Some of the Pharisees asked about paying taxes, and he pointed out Caesar's image on the coins and said "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." He explained to his disciples that in heaven, there is no marriage and that all "will be like the angels." And he told them that the most important commandment was "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength" and the second was to "Love your neighbor as yourself."

While teaching, Jesus asked why the "teachers of the law" say that the Christ is the son of David. Jesus said that "David himself calls him 'Lord.' How then can he be his son?" And he criticized the "teachers of the law" for their affection for the trappings of their office. He then talked about the generosity of a poor widow who "gave out of her poverty," while others "gave out of their wealth." Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others."

Thoughts, questions, issues

Mark 13-16

In chapter 13, Jesus preaches to his disciples that "not one stone here [of the temple] will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." He foresees the end times, that "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom," with earthquakes and famines. He tells them that these are the beginning - the KJV says of "sorrows," the NIV "of birth pains." He explains that they will be "handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues." But "the gospel must first be preached to all nations." He warns them to beware of false prophets, and to know that heaven and earth will pass away but never his words. And he tells them that these things will happen before this generation passes, but that no one but the father knows the time. So that they must constantly watch for the signs.

Chapter 14 starts with Jesus and his apostles in Bethany "in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper." A woman anointed him with "expensive perfume" and some of the disciples grumbled that they could have sold it and given it to the poor. Jesus tells him that the poor will always be with them, but he won't, and that she has done a good thing. Then Judas went to the priests to betray him. Jesus sent his disciples to a house where a room was prepared for the Passover, and they had the last supper. He poured out the cup and said, "this is my blood." He broke the bread, saying "this is my body which is broken for you." "When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."

Jesus told them that they would "all fall away," quoting Zechariah. When Peter protests, Jesus tells him that he will deny Jesus three times before the rooster crows twice. They then went to a place called Gethsemene, and Jesus asked them to sit for a while as he prayed. He prayed to God that he would "take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will." When he came back to the disciples, three times, they were sleeping. Then Judas appeared with a crowd sent from the chief priests and elders. He kissed Jesus, thus identifying him for the crowd as the one they wanted. There was a scene and one of those standing near cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest, but Jesus stopped them, asking why they hadn't just taken him from the temple courts where he had been preaching. "But the Scriptures must be fulfilled." A young man, "wearing nothing but a linen garment," was following Jesus. When he was seized, the young man fled, leaving the garment behind.

They brought him before the Sanhedrin, and when they asked if he was the Christ, he responded, "I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." They high priest asked whether they needed to hear any more blasphemy, and they condemned him as worth of death, and began to beat him. Meanwhile, Peter, in the courtyard, denied three times that he was a follower of Jesus, and wept when the rooster crowed for the second time.

In chapter 15, we are told that the "the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin" came to a decision to hand him over to Pilate. Pilate asked Jesus if he was the King of the Jews and Jesus answered, "yes." He then asked the crowd whether he should release Jesus or Barabbas, and the priests incited the crowd to say Barabbas. Pilate asked what he should do with Jesus, and they cried, "Crucify him!" And to satisfy them, Pilate released him to the crowd. The soldiers led him away, mocking him. They put him in a purple robe and twisted a crown of thorns on to his head. They made a man named Simon from Cyrene carry his cross and they took him to Golgotha. They crucified him, and divided his clothes casting lots. There were two robbers crucified, one on either side of him.

At the ninth hour, he cried out ""Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" The soaked a sponge in vinegar, put it on a stick and offered it to him. Then, with a loud cry, he breathed his last. At the same time, the veil of the temple was rent from top to bottom. And the centurion watching said, "Surely this man was the Son of God!"

It was the day before the sabbath. Joseph of Arimathea went to Pilate and asked for the body, which surprised Pilate, as he didn't expect him to have died yet. Learning that it was true, he gave the body to Joseph, who wrapped it in linen and laid it in a tomb cut out of rock. A large stone was rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb. Mary Magdelene, and Mary "the mother of Joses" saw where he was laid.

In chapter 16, when the Sabbath was over, the Marys went to anoint the body. When they arrived at the tomb, they found the stone rolled away. When they entered the tomb, "a young man dressed in a white robe" told them that "He has Risen!" He gave them a message to take to Peter, that he would see him in Galillee, and the women fled in fear.

Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, and she went and told the mourning disciples, who didn't believe her. Later, Jesus appeared to the eleven while they were eating, and rebuked them for their lack of faith. He told them to go out in to all the world and preach the Gospel, and that "all who believe and are baptized will be saved." After he spoke to them, "he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God." The disciples went out and preached everywhere, "and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it."

Thoughts, questions, issues