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Lesson 1: Introducing Jesus, the Son of God *

Introduction: Papias, an early Christian writer, provides a very interesting insight into the Gospel of Mark. Relying on a very early source, Papias tells us that Mark was a close associate of Peter. This is supported by 1 Peter 5:13 where we find Peter referring to Mark as "my son Mark." Church tradition refers to Mark as "Peter's interpreter." (The Bible Exposition Commentary) Thus it appears that Peter preached about his work with Jesus and Mark wrote it down and arranged it. (NIV Study Bible, Introduction to Mark) The book of Mark is filled with action - small wonder if he took his source material from Peter. Let's jump into the action by beginning our study of Mark!

  1. The Proof

    1. Read Mark 1:1. Have you ever said, "Keep it simple, stupid?" Do you prefer things straightforward and uncomplicated?

      1. How does Mark start his gospel? (Simple and to the point.)

      2. Can you see Peter preaching this way?

      3. The word "gospel" means "good news." Read Mark 1:1 and substitute "good news" for the word "gospel."

    2. Read Mark 1:2-4. Being simple is one thing. Being accurate is another. What is Mark's approach to proving to us that his statement in Mark 1:1 is the truth? (He quotes the prophets: Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1. Mark knows the prophets foretold that Jesus would have someone who prepared the way for His coming. Mark says, "This happened. These prophecies were fulfilled.")

      1. How, specifically, did John prepare the way for Jesus? (He preached a gospel of repentance.)

      2. How does this apply to your life? If you want Jesus to come into your heart, is repentance your first concern?

    3. Read Mark 1:5-7. What is the next proof that Mark presents about Jesus being "the Son of God." (First, John prepares the way for Jesus, just as was prophesied. Second, John testifies that he is preparing the way for Jesus. You have both the witness of Scripture and the witness of the prophesied messenger.)

      1. How popular was John? (He got the attention of everyone.)

        1. Why was John so popular? Was it his "dress for success" approach? Was it his great diet suggestions?

      2. Was there a reason why John was asking the people to repent and be baptized? (We must not miss the big picture here. The reason for the people to repent and be baptized was because the Messiah was coming. Mark 1:7 very clearly tells us "this was [John's] message" that the Messiah was about to come. It was not his diet or dress, it was his message that the Messiah, at long last, was about to appear. The reaction of the people in believing that the Messiah was coming soon is yet further proof that Jesus is the promised Messiah.)

        1. What lesson can we learn from this about the relative importance of our message versus our diet and dress?

        2. Or, is our diet and dress part of the message?

    4. Read Mark 1:8. How do the roles of John the Baptist and Jesus compare? (John facilitates the initial cleaning, Jesus purifies them through the power of the Holy Spirit.)

      1. Consider again the comparison to your spiritual life. After you repent and are washed by baptism, what happens next? (This is what we studied last quarter - the work of the Holy Spirit in sanctifying our life.)

      2. Read John 4:1-2. How do you explain this text, when John the Baptist predicts Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit? (This text is consistent in that Jesus is not baptizing with water. John the Baptist must mean that Jesus would cause people to come "under" the power of the Holy Spirit. I can see the symbolism between being buried in water and covered with the Holy Spirit. Compare Matthew 28:19. )

      3. Read Acts 1:4-5. What other insight do we get from this text about Jesus' baptizing others with the Holy Spirit?

    5. Read Mark 1:9. Why would Jesus be baptized by John? Was it to wash away His sins?

      1. Compare Matthew 3:13-15. What does Jesus mean to "fulfill all righteousness?" (Baptism is the ordinance that we go through to show that we died to our old life and now are righteous by faith. (Romans 6:4-5.) Jesus was being an example to us - He was showing us how to fulfill righteousness.)

    6. Read Mark 1:10-11. What other proof is Mark presenting that Jesus is the Son of God? (God the Father and the Holy Spirit are now also witnesses.)

    7. Read Mark 1:12-13. The Bible Exposition Commentary says that God and the Holy Spirit were the final witnesses to Jesus being the Messiah. I'm not sure. Who else is witnessing to the divinity of Jesus? (Why would Satan spend 40 days tempting Jesus if he did not think it important? The stature of your enemies says something about you. I think Satan and the good angels are the last witnesses Mark uses to prove that Jesus was the Son of God.)

  2. The Time Has Come

    1. Read Mark 1:14-15. Why did Jesus wait to begin His ministry until after John had been imprisoned? (I think He understood that this was God's signal that it was time for Him to begin. John prepared the way. Now was the time for John to diminish and Jesus increase. See John 3:30.)

    2. Read Mark 1:16-18. Today I spent most of my time listening to a private school consultant. He stressed the important of "profiling" school board members. Profiling means that you pick board members on the basis of whether they will be able to fulfill the strategic goals of the church school. Does Jesus seem to be "profiling?" Is He picking helpers based on their ability to accomplish His strategic goals?

    3. Read Mark 1:19-20. Again, we have Jesus picking men who seem to have no theological background. What attitude did James and John appear to have? (They were willing. Simon and Andrew "at once" ( Mark 1:18) decided to follow Jesus. James and John followed Him when He called them. All four of these men seem most willing to follow Jesus.)

      1. In the strategic goals of your church, how important is it to have people who are "willing?"

      2. We asked why Jesus would choose these men. Let's turn the question around, why would these men follow Jesus? (This was not their first meeting with Jesus. Read John 1:35-49. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah!)

    4. Friend, how about you - do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah? Are you willing to follow Jesus by building your life around His mission?

  3. Next week: Amazing Miracle Worker.
* Copr. 2005, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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