Introduction to Mark (Wednesday Night Bible Study) (6-8-22)

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

Introduction to the Gospel of Mark

  • The Synoptic Gospels
    • Matthew, Mark, and Luke known as the synoptic gospels. What does that term mean?
      • Two greek words meaning to see together
      • They can be set down in parallel columns and their common matter looked at together
    • Mark can be argued that it is not only the most important of the three, but maybe of any book in the world
      • It is agreed by nearly everyone to be the earliest recording of the life of Jesus that we have.
  • The Pedigree of the Gospels
    • Oral history and finally recorded in written form…would have had to have been hand copied, so there were not numerous copies of everything
    • How do we know that Mark was the earliest?
      • The synoptic gospels contain the same incidents often told in the same words; and they contain accounts of the teaching of Jesus which are often almost identical.
        • Feeding of the 5,000 (Mark 6:30-44; Matthew 14:12-21; Luke 9:10-17)
          • Story told in almost the exact same words in the same way and order
        • Healing of the Paralytic (Mark 2:1-12; Matthew 9:1-8; Luke 5:17-26)
          • The accounts are so similar that even a little parenthesis- ‘he said to the paralytic’- occurs in all three in exactly the same place
        • So closely related there are only two conclusions
          • All three are taking their material from some common source
          • Two of the three are based on the third
      • Mark can be divided in to 105 sections
        • 93 of theses occur in Matthew
        • 81 in Luke
        • Only four are not included in either Matthew or Luke
      • Mark has 661 verses
        • Matthew has 1,068; Matthew has 606 (51% of Mark’s actual wording) of Mark’s 661
        • Luke has 1,149; Luke reproduces 320 (53% of his actual wording)
        • Of the 55 verses that Matthew doesn’t have, 31 are found in Luke
        • Only 24 verses in Mark do not occur in Matthew and Luke
        • Looks very much as if Matthew and Luke were using Mark as the basis of their gospels
      • Matthew and Luke very largely follow Mark’s order of events
        • Matthew and Luke both alter the order of events, but never at the same time
        • One of them always follows Mark’s order of events
    • A close examination of the three makes it clear that Matthew and Luke had Mark before them as they wrote. They added material where they felt it would benefit, but they more than likely had Mark as a guide.
    • It is thrilling to remember that when we read Mark’s gospel we are reading the first recording of the life of Jesus.
  • Mark, the Writer of the Gospel
    • Who is Mark?
      • Son of Mary (wealthy woman in Jerusalem, whose house Peter went too after being freed from prison by an angel in Acts 12). This means Mark was brought up in the very center of the Christian Fellowship
      • Nephew of Barnabas (accompanied Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey before deserting and returning home) (Acts 13)
      • When Paul starts to set out on the second journey, Barnabas again wants to take Mark. Paul refuses and this causes Paul and Barnabas to part company
      • Tradition has it that Mark then went to Egypt and is responsible for the founding of the church at Alexandria (we do not know if this is true or not)
      • When he does reemerge in Scripture it is in the most unexpected way
        • When Paul writes to the Colossian church from prison, Mark is listed as being with Paul (Colossians 4:10)
        • Paul numbers Mark among his fellow workers in Philemon
        • II Timothy 4:11, “Only Luke is with me. Bring Mark with you, for he is useful to me in the ministry”.
    • Mark’s Source of Information
      • We saw earlier that his home in Jerusalem was a center for the church early on, so he had probably heard a lot of the stories there, but it is most likely that he had as a source, an eyewitness of the life of Jesus.
      • Papias, toward the end of the 2nd Century, liked to obtain and transmit such information as he could glean about the early days of the Church. He tells us that Mark’s gospel is nothing other than a record of the preaching material of Peter.
        • I Peter 5:13 references “My son Mark”.
        • Mark, who was Peter’s interpreter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, all that he recollected of what Christ had said or done. For he was not a hearer of the Lord or a follower of his. He followed Peter, as I have said, at a later date, and Peter adapted his instruction to practical needs, without any attempt to give the Lord’s words systematically. So that Mark was not wrong in writing down some things in this way from memory, for his one concern was neither to omit nor falsify anything that he had heard.
      • We have two great reasons why Mark should be considered a book of great importance. 
        • It’s the earliest of the gospels
          • If it is written shortly after the death of Peter, it would be dated around 65 A.D., less than 40 years after the resurrection.
        • It’s the direct preaching notes of Peter
  • The Characteristics of Mark’s Gospel
    • It’s the nearest thing we will ever get to a report of Jesus’ life.
      • Mark’s aim was to give a picture of Jesus as he was
      • B. F. Westcott called it a transcript from life
      • A. B. Bruce said that it was written from the viewpoint of loving, vivid recollection and that it’s great characteristic was realism
    • Mark never forgot the divine side of Jesus
      • Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God
      • They were astounded at his teaching (1:22); The were all amazed (1:27); these types of phrases occur over and over again.
      • To Mark, Jesus was not simply one of us; he was God among us, constantly moving people to a wondering amazement with his words and deeds
    • No gospel gives such a human picture of Jesus
      • Mark called him the carpenter (6:3). Matthew changes it to “Carpenter’s son”
      • Immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness (1:12). Matthew and Luke change “drove” to “led up by”
      • Mark tells us more about the emotions of Jesus than any of the others
        • Jesus sighed deeply in his spirit (7:34; 8:12)
        • He was moved with compassion (6:34)
        • He was amazed at their unbelief (6:6)
        • Moved with righteous anger (3:5, 8:33, 10:14)
        • He loved the rich young ruler (10:21)
        • Jesus felt the pangs of hunger (11:12)
        • He got tired and needed rest (6:31)
      • The sheer humanity of Jesus in Mark’s picture brings him very near to us
    • Over and over again, he inserts little vivid details into the narrative which are the hallmark of an eyewitness
      • Mark adds in the story of Jesus having the children come to him that not only does He call them, He takes the child in His arms
      • In the feeding of the 5,000, only Mark describes them sitting down in groups of hundreds and fifties
      • When Jesus and his disciples were on the last journey to Jerusalem, only Mark tells us that Jesus was walking alone, ahead of the group, relating to us Jesus’ loneliness.
      • In the story of Jesus calming the storm, only Mark relates that Jesus was asleep on a cushion
    • Mark’s realism and his simplicity come out in is Greek style
      • His style is not carefully developed and polished
        • He tells the story the way a child would relate it
          • He adds statement to statement connecting them simply with the word ‘and’
          • In chapter 3, in the Greek, there are 34 clauses or sentences on after another introduced by ‘and’ after one principal verb
          • It is the way in which an eager child would tell the story
      • He is very fond of the word “immediately”
        • Occurs almost 30 times
        • “Stories march” but Mark’s story does not so much march; he rushes on in a kind of breathless attempt to make the story as vivid to others as it is to himself
      • He is very fond of the historic present
        • In the Greek he talks of events in the present tense instead of in the past 
          • “And when Jesus heard it, he says to them, ‘Those who are strong do not need a doctor, but those who are ill’” (2:17)
          • ‘And when they come near to Jerusalem, to Bethpage and to Bethany, to the Mount of Olives, he sends two of his disciples, and says to them, “Go into the village opposite you…”’(11:1-2)
          • ‘And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, on of the Twelve, comes’ (14:43)
        • Generally speaking, we do not keep these historic presents in translation because in English they do not sound well; but they show how vivid and real the thing was to Mark’s mind, as if it was happening before his eyes
      • He quite often gives us the very Aramaic words which Jesus used
        • Jairus’ daughter, he said ‘Talitha cumi’ (5:41)
        • Deaf and Mute, he said, ‘Ephphatha’ (7:34)
        • Dedicated gift is ‘Corban” (7:11)
        • In the garden, ‘Abba, Father’ (14:36)
        • On the cross ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ (15:34)
        • There were times when Peter could hear again the very sound of Jesus’ voice and could not help passing it on to Mark in the very words that Jesus spoke.
  • Special note (14:50-52) 
    • Then they all deserted him and ran away. Now a certain young man, wearing nothing but a linen cloth, was following him. They caught hold of him, but he left the linen cloth behind and ran away naked. 
      • These are strange and fascinating verses. At first sight they seem completely irrelevant. they seem to add nothing to the narrative and yet there must be some reason for them being there.
      • In Acts, it appears the center of the Church in Jerusalem is Mary’s house, the mother of John Mark. It is at least probable that the upper room in which the Last Supper was eaten was in that same house. There could be no more natural place than that to be the center of the Church.
        • It may be that Mark was actually present at the Last Supper. He was young, just a boy, and maybe no one really noticed him. But he was fascinated with Jesus, and when the company went out into the dark, the slipped out after them when he ought to have been in bed, with only the linen sheet covering him. It may be that all the time Mark was there in the shadows listening and watching. That would explain where the Gethsemane narrative came from. If the disciples were all asleep, how did anyone know about the struggle of soul that Jesus had there? It may be that the one witness was Mark as he stood silent in the shadows, watching with a boy’s reverence the greatest hero had ever known. 
        • From John’s narrative, we know that Judas left the company before the meal was fully ended. It may be that it was to the upper room that Judas meant to lead the Temple police so that they might secretly arrest Jesus. But when Judas came back with the police, Jesus and his disciples were gone. Naturally there was an argument. The uproar wakened Mark. He heard Judas propose that they should try the garden of Gethsemane. Quickly Mark wrapped his bedsheet around him and sped through the night to the garden to warn Jesus. But he arrived too late, and in the scuffle that followed was very nearly arrested himself.
      • Whatever may be true, we may take it as fairly certain that mark put in this passage because they were about himself. He could never forget that night. He was too humble to put his own name in, but in this way he wrote his signature and said, to anyone who could read between the lines, “I was there as a boy.”

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