Introduction to The Gospel according to St Mark


From December 2020 to November 2021 our main Gospel, Sunday by Sunday, will be the Gospel of St Mark.  As it’s the shortest Gospel, St John will appear sometimes too.

As each of the 4 Gospels was written in a particular context and for a particular purpose it’s useful to know about the background to a Gospel to help us understand the themes and emphases the writer is highlighting about Jesus and his ministry.  This provides us with a greater appreciation of what we are reading, but doesn’t replace the need for us to listen to the emphasis of the Holy Spirit in 2021 as we read God’s word.  

The video above, is a short introduction to the context of Marks’ Gospel and some ways to prepare for the year ahead.

I encourage you to read the Gospel in one sitting, or to listen to it.  It was written to be read out loud, so listening to it, or reading it aloud yourself can be very powerful.

You can listen to various different translations via the youversion Bible app (available from app stores) or on youtube you can find David Suchet reading it here.

You can also watch it being performed, 1 chapter at a time by Max Mclean here.

The Bible Project produces short overview videos for every book of the Bible and you can find an overview of Mark here.

Mark writes his story with a particular shape, so that the important points are stacked together like a series of Russian dolls.  You can see that in this outline of the Gospel.

  • 1:1 Declaration of the gospel
  • 1:2-8 Pointing to the one who will come after 
  • 1:9-11 Heaven torn open, God says You are my Son 
  • 1:12-13 Trial by Satan 
  • [1:14-9:1 Miracles, Events and Sayings around Galilee] 
  • 9:2-13 Transfiguration, God says This is my Son 
  • [9:14-14:52 Predictions of passion and Sayings towards Jerusalem]
  • 14:53-15:32 Trial by Sanhedrin and Pilate 
  • 15:33-47 Temple Curtain torn open, This man was the Son of God 
  • 16:1-8 Pointing to the one who goes ahead 
  • Declaration of the gospel? - But there isn't one

One of the interesting things about Mark’s Gospel is how it ends, there is no final declaration as you’d expect from this structure – except the one we make as we carry on the story.

As you read or listen to the Gospel you might like to consider the following themes:

  • The signs of the Good news 
  • The highs and lows of the story – especially the messiness which sometimes accompanies Jesus’ miracles and the disciple’s reactions, 
  • The Messianic Secret – when Jesus tells people and demons not to reveal who he really is.  
  • The invitation for us to respond and carry on the story, just as Jesus at many points asks questions for us to respond to.    

I pray that in the coming year as we listen to Mark’s Gospel together we will all be drawn to follow Jesus more closely. 

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