Introduction to the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark – Part 1  

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – June 30th, 2019


  • This morning we are starting our new series on the Gospel of Mark.  We are going to go through the entire Gospel passage by passage, taking as much time as we need to complete our task.  Your life will be enriched, your faith will be strengthened, your mind will be sharpened, and your understanding of Jesus will be enhanced along with many other things the Holy Spirit will minister to you during our time in this Gospel. 
  • This morning in this introductory message, we will build a foundational understanding of this book by answering a number of questions.

Who is Mark? 

  • We are first introduced to Mark in Acts 12:12. The Apostle Peter had just been miraculously freed from prison by an angel. After Peter realized what just happened, “he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying” (Acts 12:12 ESV).  Mark came from a family that believed in Christ and supported the work from early on.  They were fairly wealthy, having a house large enough to host the growing church in the city of Jerusalem, and they also had servants.  John was his Hebrew name and Mark was his Greek name. This means that he, more than likely, had parents and family from both the Greeks and the Jewish people which makes him biracial.
  • Mark was the cousin of Barnabas (Col. 4:10).  Barnabas was a Levite (Priestly class), a native of Cyprus and a landowner who was generous with his money (Acts 4:36-37). Barnabas was one of Paul’s significant ministry partners and traveling companions (See Acts chapters 11-16).
  • John-Mark was asked to assist his cousin Barnabas and Paul on their early missionary journeys.  They ministered together for some time from Antioch to Pamphylia.  At Pamphylia, John-Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem while Barnabas and Paul continued on (Acts 12:25-13:14).   
  • Paul wanted to do a return visit to the places they had went on their first journey to see how the people where doing.  He asked Barnabas to go with him.  Barnabas wanted to take John-Mark along with them, but Paul refused because Mark had left and did not complete the trip with them the first time (Act 15:36-38).  Paul and Barnabas had a “sharp disagreement” over taking Mark on the second trip.  So much so that they parted ways over it.  “So that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and departed,” (Acts 15:39b-40a ESV).   There is no further mention of Barnabas or Mark in the book of Acts. 
  • At some point later on Mark again worked with Paul in the ministry.  Paul mentions Mark in his letter to the Colossians saying that Mark “greets them” and if Mark comes to them, they are to “welcome him” (Col. 4:10).  Mark is also named by Paul as one of his “fellow workers” in Philemon verse 24. During Paul’s last imprisonment in Rome, Paul asked Timothy to “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry” (2 Tim 4:14 ESV).  So, there was a reconciliation and rejoining again in ministry between Mark and Paul. 
  • Mark was mentioned one more time in scripture, and this time by the Apostle Peter.  Mark also worked with Peter while Peter was imprisoned in Rome.  Their relationship was so close that Peter called Mark his “son” (1 Peter 5:13). 

What is unique about this gospel?

  • The Gospel of Mark was the first Gospel and widely distributed to the churches.  It was written in the late 50s AD or early 60s AD while Peter was still alive, as the church was undergoing severe persecution. The Gospel of Mark is based upon the preaching and teaching of Peter. All of the early church Fathers confirm this.  Papias, the Bishop of Hierapolis, stated in 140AD:

“Mark became Peter’s interpreter and wrote accurately all that he remembered, not, indeed, in order, of the things said or done by the Lord.  For he had not heard the Lord, nor had he followed him, but later on, as I said, he followed Peter, who used to give teaching as necessity demanded but not making, as it were, an arrangement of the Lord’s oracles, so single points as he remembered them.  For to one thing he gave attention, to leave out nothing of what he had heard and to make no false statements in them.”

Preaching the Word Commentary by R. Kent Hughes
  • The Gospel of Mark is the shortest of the Gospels (16 chapters) and it has a long and shorter ending.  In most bibles, after Mark 16:8, it states something like, “the most reliable early manuscripts and other ancient witness do not have Mark 16:9-20” (From the NIV). We will look at this later in the series. 
  • It is not written in chronological order, nor does it include the genealogies, the “Christmas story,” his childhood, or Jesus’ longer teachings (full sermon on the mount). 

What are the key elements of this gospel? 

  • The Gospel of Mark is mainly an “action book.”  There are more miracles recorded in Mark than in the other Gospels, even though it is far shorter.  He uses the historical present tense 150 times – Jesus says, Jesus heals, Jesus sent. It is written like an “Eyewitness News Brief” being fast-paced.
  • Mark is what some call the “Go Gospel.”  He uses the word “immediately” 42 times (10 times in the first chapter alone!).
  • The book starts this way:

Mark 1:1 ESV
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

  • The phrase “The beginning” is similar to how the book of Genesis starts “In the beginning” which tells that reader that there is a new beginning of a new era that is connected to and built upon the past but now is a “renewed” beginning or a beginning again.  
  • The word “gospel” means “the good news.”  The gospel is the good news that is in Jesus.  It is the news about Jesus, who He is, what He taught, what He did and what He is going to do.  It is the news about Jesus – in which God reveled to us and requires a response from us. 
  • This Book is all about Jesus . . . and he states from the opening line the most important thing about His identity, that He is the Son of God.  Something that Peter first proclaimed, and the most important aspect of Jesus’ identity. 
  • The book continues on for the first 8 chapters mainly focused in the activities of Jesus along with some of His teachings. They include His baptism, His temptation, His calling of His first disciples, His miracles, His crowds, His family and His enemies. 
  •  The focus and tone of the book shifts after Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ in Chapter 8:27-30.   

Mark 8:27-30 ESV
And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”  28 And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” 29 And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30  And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him. 

  • This is the watershed revelation, who Jesus was –  “you are the Christ.”  After this the book focuses on teachings that Jesus primarily gave to His disciples and their interactions with Him. 
  • The last third of the book (chapters 11 – 16) focus on the triumphal entry to the resurrection and beyond.  
  • Perhaps the “Key Verse” to this Gospel is: 

Mark 10:45 ESV
For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” 

  • It gives why Jesus came – to give His life – no one forced Him or took His life from Him – He gave it.  He did so to be a “ransom for many.”  He paid the ransom that we owed.  That it is “for many” which means that it is not just for the Jews, not just for those at that time, but for all at every time.  It also means that is limited, that not all people will be redeemed.  It is not automatic that all people will receive His gift of redemption or be with Him in heaven for eternity. 
  • He came not to be served, but to serve.  God was not coming to be given to by us, but to give to us, and to serve us, even though He is the Creator and He is the Head.  And if we walk in Him, we will interact with the world as well to serve them by giving of ourselves. 
  • Jesus is “the son of Man” meaning that He indeed was fully human, even though He is fully God. This is the “incarnation,” God with us! 


  • Hopefully at this point you have a good understanding of who Mark was, where he received his information, the uniqueness of this Gospel and some of the key elements.  
  • I would encourage you to read this book through. Even slow readers can do so in less than two hours.  
  • Be praying that God will work in your heart during this series.  
  • Know that Jesus is who He says He is. His life and actions proved it.  You can trust in Him, because He is the truth.  
  • Renew your commitment to knowing Him and following in His footsteps.