Lesson 1 of 6
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Summary of Mark


The Gospel of Mark focuses attention on the last week of Jesus’ life and his death in Jerusalem. Frequent appearances of the adverb immediately in this Gospel express the urgency of Jesus’ journey to the cross. This journey begins at the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry, commencing right away with his baptism and testing in the wilderness. As Jesus repeatedly announces his coming suffering, death, and resurrection, the Gospel of Mark draws its readers into the unfolding drama of Jesus’ death and resurrection.


The opening words of the Gospel according to Mark, “The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” are more than a title to the Gospel. They draw the hearer or reader into the entire account, connecting us with the good news itself. Whatever the parable, miracle, teaching, or story from the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, the good news (literally, the gospel) of Jesus Christ breaks into our lives.


The Gospel according to Mark is the second book in the New Testament. It sits between two books that speak about Jesus from a similar perspective, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.


The specific author whom we call “the evangelist Mark” remains purposefully unknown to us. The evangelist’s intention in composing the Gospel is not to draw attention to self, but to Jesus’ proclamation of the good news (gospel) in word and deed.


The Gospel of Mark is considered the earliest written of the four Gospels. It is impossible to determine whether it was put into written form before or after the siege of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., but this event is a landmark for situating the time of Mark’s composition. The preaching of Paul and the death of those who had known Jesus personally around this same time also brought an urgency for the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth to be kept alive in written form for succeeding generations.


The Gospel of Mark is about the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ, who is identified as one from Nazareth at his baptism, recognized as God’s Son by fearful demonic spirits, and proclaimed as the resurrected Lord by a young man in a white robe. In Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen, the reign and rule of God’s kingdom has come among us.


The Gospel expectantly invites its readers with its opening verse. That verse promises that the good news of the living presence of God’s reign and rule breaks into our lives through every parable, miracle, teaching, or event in the life of Jesus. The Gospel leads us to the foot of the cross, where we witness the ironic confession of a Roman centurion. The Gospel also leads us to the empty tomb, where we witness the proclamation of the young man. In Mark, Jesus is the crucified and resurrected Christ who promises to go before us into the world with the good news.