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Mark 1 Reading Guide

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Chapter Summary

  • v1 - Buckle up, because the book of Mark moves fast. Notice just in the bullet points below how each section begins with words written in a way that pushes the narrative forward and you along with it. Mark's gospel starts with the same word Genesis starts with: Beginning. Chapter one isn't about the creation of the universe, it's about the beginning of the gospel (good news).

  • v2-8 - "And so John appeared..."

    • Before telling about John the Baptist, Mark appeals to the prophet Isaiah to show where John's authority came from. Notice how much of the New Testament depends upon and fulfills the Old Testament.

    • John came from the wilderness, and in a few verses we'll read about Jesus being led into the wilderness. Any guesses as to what the 'wilderness' is a metaphor for? (think of how the wilderness is the opposite of the Garden at the Bible's other beginning chapter in Genesis)

    • John came baptizing with water, which was not an unheard of thing to do in order to signify purification from sin. But what made John different was that he pointed forward to one who would baptize not with water, but the Holy Spirit.

  • v9-11 - "At that time..."

    • Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan, along with thousands of others.

    • What makes Jesus' baptism so different was what happened next:

      • Heaven was torn open (the curtain of the temple will be torn open after Jesus dies).

      • This is the only spot in the Bible where all three members of the Trinity are visibly active at the same time.

  • v12-13 - "At once the Spirit..."

    • Jesus' mission began immediately upon being anointed with the Spirit (The words Christos (Greek) and Messiah (Hebrew) both mean 'anointed one.' Christ is Jesus' title, not His last name).

    • The Spirit sends Jesus into the wilderness, to face the temptations that Adam failed to withstand.

  • v14-15 - "After John was put in prison..."

    • Mark doesn't bore us with the details of John's imprisonment, he just assumes his readers already know about it.

    • Jesus' ministry begins with key words that best describe why He came:

      • The Kingdom of God has come near,

      • so repent and believe the gospel.

  • v16-20 - "As Jesus walked..."

    • He called his first four disciples.

    • These weren't just sport fishermen, they were commercial fishermen who walked away from a massive investment of boats, nets & employees.

    • The followed him "without delay."

  • v21-33 - "They went..."

    • Performing miracles was not at the top of Jesus' to-do list, teaching was.

    • He was forced to perform his first miracle in Mark by a demon that recognized His divinity.

    • Twice the primary characteristic of Jesus is mentioned in this passage: He has authority.

      • Now the word is out, and news spread quickly.

      • The whole town shows up to either witness or receive a miracle.

  • v35-38 - "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark..."

    • Mark's in a hurry to tell this story, but Jesus, even though He only has three years to save the world, knows the importance of taking lots of time for silence & solitude, even if it means He needs to get up extra early to do so.

    • The disciples are eager to continue the miracle-fest.

      • But Jesus instead leaves town,

      • because He came to preach.

  • v39-45 - "So He traveled..."

    • Jesus heals a lepper,

    • but gives the first of many warnings to stay quiet about it, because Jesus knows the crowds will always value seeing miracles above being taught.


In introducing John the Baptist, Mark quotes a small portion of Isaiah 40, but the whole chapter is a synopsis of why Jesus came.


Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:

  1. EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: Bible: How does this chapter describe John the Baptist’s clothing and his food?

  2. In this chapter, which of these character qualities in Jesus comes through most strongly to you: His compassion, His power, or His wisdom? (Explain your answer.)

Questions taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament

Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: A Triune (three in one) God - Father, Son & Holy Spirit (v10-11)

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for the patience and discipline to be taught by your Lord & Savior



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