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Mark 1

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So to kick off the online Bible studies, we’re going to go through one of the gospels.

Mark’s gospel is the shortest, and has some very interesting features. It is widely believed, and backed up, that it was the first gospel (of the ones we have in the Bible today) to be written – and many think it was used as ‘research’ by the other gospel writers.

<In the coming studies, we’re going to look at Bible passages, their applications, and also some different theology and Bible study techniques. I’m going to try and stretch you a bit at points – but only if I think it’s going to be worth it in the end!>

So who was Mark?

Firstly, we need to think about why we should bother to answer the question! As the Bible is a book, we can understand it better by treating it like a book. I remember in school being asked by my English teachers “what was the author’s intention in writing this?” and thinking “who cares?” But when I’m reading the Bible, I care – because I believe it’s powerful. If I know who the author was, I can understand a bit more about what information they are trying to convey to me. By finding this out, you can also learn about what was going on when they wrote, the people they wrote to and how their message was meant to be received by people. With all of this info, it helps you to understand the text a whole lot better – and that’s why we’re doing Bible study, no?!

Mark was a mate of Paul. You can read about how Mark got involved in mission work (with ups and downs) in Acts (start at ch13 if you don’t mind missing some of the cracking stuff that goes before). It is also thought that Mark was later kind of a scribe that wrote the apostle Peter’s memoirs about his time with Jesus – so Mark’s gospel is sort of like what Peter remembered about Jesus, with some extra research too! Mark wasn’t from the same place as Jesus and the apostles; in fact it is believed that he was North African. This is the reason why he decides to explain Jewish customs more than the other gospel writers. It also helps us to understand that he wrote the book to help and encourage Christians from outside of the Jewish religion all over the Roman empire. For a nice simple intro to Mark, clicky. For a more in depth and complicated one, go here.

Anyways; whether or not you think it’s important to get to know the religious and political settings of the book and its author, I hope you’ll agree it’s a good idea to get into it! I’m going to kick off with a bit of a truncated (shortened) study, as I’ll assume you’ve spent hours researching the links above, and also you have exams to study for and world cup matches to watch.

Mark ch1

 This opening chapter has always interested me. It doesn’t hang about scene setting, or mention anything about when Jesus was born or when he was growing up. It starts with Jesus as an adult, about to start his ministry. This has interesting implications for us, but I’m not going into that yet! I’m going to split the passage into a few sections, but it’s quite long, so it’ll probably spill over into next week too. I’ll pick apart the verses and tell you stuff that I think helps make meaning out of the passage, then I’ll give you some things to think and pray about to finish off the study.

 vv1-8

So the book starts with “The beginning…” Just like Genesis does – coincidence? No! It’s cleverly linking the start of the gospel of Jesus with the start of the story of the world. And also, in the same way that Genesis starts a story that’s still unravelling today, so the gospel of Jesus is too. Mark also refers to Jesus as “the Son of God.” This is a phrase used very rarely in Mark’s gospel, but is important. Mark is writing about who Jesus is. The study of the portrayal of Jesus is called Christology. Mark’s gospel generally focuses on the fact that Jesus was fully man, more than it focuses on Jesus being fully God. Posh people say “Mark has a low Christology” when they are trying to explain this! If you want to see the opposite, read John’s gospel, which has a “high Christology.” Mark does two things here that are worthy of note. Firstly he doesn’t mention any of the childhood and more ‘human’ aspects of Jesus’ life. Secondly, he acknowledges that Jesus is divine at the start of the book, before shifting the focus to Jesus’ humanity. Mark, you must remember, is writing to an audience who needed to read about Jesus’ humanity – which makes all that research we’ve just done worth it already! So don’t think that Mark didn’t think that Jesus was both man and God, it’s just he had to make some things more obvious for his readers.

Also note that the gospel (good news) of Jesus starts with John the Baptist. Not the most obvious place to start – with someone who isn’t Jesus. I’ve wondered about the significance of this, and can only conclude that our willingness to do what God asks of us puts us in the same position as John the Baptist. The good news of Jesus in the lives of many around us may begin with us preparing the way and calling out in the wilderness in Jesus’ name. But, like John, we must be willing to acknowledge who Jesus really is, no matter what the cost (and John paid a high price for preaching in Jesus’ name!)

 vv 9-13

If you need to picture it, click. Jesus gives John the privilege of baptising him. John, only through an acknowledgement of who Jesus was is able to do so, and to minister not just to him, but to ‘the whole Judean countryside.’ It is all about giving God His proper place, and that is something we need to do more and more of in our lives. What happens is one of the very few points of the Bible where all three members of the Holy Trinity can be seen together. God’s words give further evidence that Mark wants us to think of Jesus as divine, which we will need to remember as we delve further into Mark’s gospel. We can also see that there is a particular order in these events. The Spirit descends upon Jesus, and guides Him out into the desert. It is only with the guidance of the Spirit that Jesus goes, and he is attended to by angels when He does. When we go off, we must do so filled with, and led by, the Holy Spirit.

After this point, Jesus begins His ministry. So I’m going to leave the study here this week, with these thoughts:

Are you living life led by the Holy Spirit?

Does God have His proper place in your hearts, heads, and deeds?

In what way can we see that discovering Jesus is just the start of the good news?

laters,

two5two

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Written by two5two

June 11, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Posted in Bible Studies

Hello world! 252 is here!

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This is where you’ll be able to find updates on 252 bible studies, and what I think about life, youth culture, the Church (catholic and apostolic), theology and maybe some other links and fun things and that.

Whenever I can remember to update, that is!

Written by two5two

June 2, 2010 at 10:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized