Jehovah’s Word Is Alive
Highlights From the Book of Mark
THE Gospel of Mark is the shortest of the four Gospels. Written by John Mark some 30 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it is a fast-moving, action-packed account of Jesus’ three-and-a-half-year ministry.
Evidently intended for non-Jews, particularly the Romans, the book of Mark presents Jesus as the miracle-working Son of God who carries on a vigorous preaching campaign. The emphasis is on what Jesus did rather than what he taught. Paying attention to the Gospel of Mark will strengthen our faith in the Messiah and motivate us to be zealous proclaimers of God’s message in the Christian ministry.—Heb. 4:12.
THE GREAT GALILEAN MINISTRY
After covering the activity of John the Baptizer and Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness in just 14 verses, Mark begins an exciting report of Jesus’ Galilean ministry. The repeated use of the expression “immediately” lends a sense of urgency to the account.—Mark 1:10, 12.
In less than three years, Jesus completes three preaching campaigns in Galilee. Mark presents the account mostly in chronological order. The Sermon on the Mount is omitted, as are many of Jesus’ longer discourses.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
1:15—“The appointed time” for what had been fulfilled? Jesus was stating that the appointed time had been fulfilled for him to commence his ministry. Because he was on hand as King-Designate, God’s Kingdom had drawn near. Righthearted people could then respond to his preaching work and take steps that would bring them God’s approval.
1:44; 3:12; 7:36—Why did Jesus not want his miracles advertised? Rather than have people reach conclusions based on sensational or possibly distorted reports, Jesus wanted them to see for themselves that he was the Christ and to make a personal decision based on that evidence. (Isa. 42:1-4; Matt. 8:4; 9:30; 12:15-21; 16:20; Luke 5:14) An exception was the case of the formerly demon-possessed man in the country of the Gerasenes. Jesus told him to go home and report the matter to his relatives. Jesus had been entreated to go away from that area, so he would have had very little or no contact with the people there. The presence and the testimony of a man to whom Jesus had done a good deed could serve to counteract any negative talk about the loss of the swine.—Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39.
2:28—Why is Jesus called “Lord even of the sabbath”? “The Law has a shadow of the good things to come,” wrote the apostle Paul. (Heb. 10:1) As the Law stipulated, the Sabbath came after six days of work, and Jesus performed many of his cures on that day. This foreshadowed the peaceful rest and other blessings that mankind will experience under the Thousand Year Reign of Christ after the end of Satan’s oppressive rulership. Therefore, the King of that Kingdom is also “Lord of the sabbath.”—Matt. 12:8; Luke 6:5.
3:5; 7:34; 8:12—How could Mark have known details about Jesus’ emotional state? Mark was neither one of the 12 apostles nor a close companion of Jesus. Ancient tradition has it that Mark’s close associate, the apostle Peter, was the source of much of Mark’s information.—1 Pet. 5:13.
6:51, 52—What was “the meaning of the loaves” that the disciples failed to grasp? Just a few hours earlier, Jesus had fed 5,000 men besides women and children with only five loaves and two fishes. “The meaning of the loaves” that the disciples should have understood from that event was that Jesus had been empowered by Jehovah God to perform miracles. (Mark 6:41-44) If they had grasped the greatness of power that Jesus had been given, they would not have been so amazed when he miraculously walked on water.
8:22-26—Why did Jesus restore the blind man’s sight in two steps? Jesus might have done this out of consideration for the man. The gradual restoration of sight to a man who had been accustomed to darkness for a long time may have allowed him to adjust to the brilliance of the sunlight.
Lessons for Us:
2:18; 7:11; 12:18; 13:3. Mark explains customs, terms, beliefs, and locations that might have been unfamiliar to non-Jewish readers. He makes it clear that the Pharisees “practiced fasting,” that corban is “a gift dedicated to God,” that the Sadducees “say there is no resurrection,” and that the temple was “in view” from “the Mount of Olives.” Since the genealogy of the Messiah would be of interest mainly to the Jews, he leaves it out altogether. Mark thus provides an example for us. We should take into consideration the background of our listeners when we engage in the Christian ministry or give talks at congregation meetings.
3:21. Jesus’ relatives were unbelievers. Hence, he is empathetic toward those who because of their faith are opposed or mocked by their unbelieving family members.
3:31-35. At his baptism, Jesus became God’s spiritual Son, and “the Jerusalem above” was his mother. (Gal. 4:26) From then on, Jesus’ disciples were nearer and dearer to him than his fleshly relatives were. This teaches us to put spiritual interests first in our lives.—Matt. 12:46-50; Luke 8:19-21.
8:32-34. We should be quick to recognize and reject any mistaken kindness displayed by others. A follower of Christ must be prepared to “disown himself,” that is, to deny himself and say no to selfish desires and ambitions. He should be willing to “pick up his torture stake”—to suffer, if need be, or be shamed or persecuted or even put to death for being a Christian. And he must “continually follow” Jesus, conforming to His pattern of life. The course of discipleship requires that we develop and maintain a self-sacrificing spirit like that of Christ Jesus.—Matt. 16:21-25; Luke 9:22, 23.
THE FINAL MONTH
Toward the end of 32 C.E., Jesus comes to “the frontiers of Judea and across the Jordan,” and again crowds come to him. (Mark 10:1) After preaching there, he is on his way to Jerusalem.
On Nisan 8, Jesus is at Bethany. He is reclining at a meal when a woman comes in and pours perfumed oil upon his head. The events from Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem to his resurrection are described in chronological order.
Scriptural Questions Answered:
10:17, 18—Why did Jesus correct a certain man for calling Him “Good Teacher”? By thus refusing to accept this flattering title, Jesus directed glory to Jehovah and indicated that the true God is the source of all good things. Moreover, Jesus drew attention to the fundamental truth that the Creator of all things, Jehovah God, alone has the right to set the standards of good and bad.—Matt. 19:16, 17; Luke 18:18, 19.
14:25—What did Jesus mean when he said to his faithful apostles: “I shall by no means drink anymore of the product of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God”? Jesus was not suggesting that there is literal wine in heaven. Since rejoicing is sometimes symbolized by wine, however, Jesus was referring to the joy of being together with his resurrected anointed followers in the Kingdom.—Ps. 104:15; Matt. 26:29.
14:51, 52—Who was the young man who “got away naked”? Mark alone refers to this incident, so we can reasonably conclude that he was speaking of himself.
15:34—Did Jesus’ words “my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” indicate a lack of faith on his part? No. While we cannot be sure of Jesus’ motives for saying this, his words may indicate that Jesus recognized that Jehovah had taken His protection away so that His Son’s integrity could be fully tested. It is also possible that Jesus said this because he wanted to fulfill what Psalm 22:1 foretold regarding him.—Matt. 27:46.
Lessons for Us:
10:6-9. God’s purpose is that marriage mates stick together. Therefore, rather than hastily seeking a divorce, husbands and wives should strive to apply Bible principles to overcome any difficulties that may arise in marriage.—Matt. 19:4-6.
12:41-44. The example of the poor widow teaches us that we should be unselfish in supporting true worship.
[Picture on page 29]
Why did Jesus tell this man to report to his relatives all that had happened to him?