Category Archives: Survey of Mark’s Gospel

Survey of Mark’s Gospel

MARK’S GOSPEL- general survey and headings.

Matthew is the gospel of the Sovereign, Mark of the Servant, Luke of the Sympathetic Man, John of the Son of God.

Matthew writes so that we become loyal subjects; Mark that we may be energetic servants; Luke that we may become true samples of His character; John that we may become informed scholars, (John 17:3).

Isaiah has passages about Jehovah’s servant = Christ, and they are as follows:

Isaiah 42:1-4

Selected Servant, (c.f. Matthew 12:17-21).

Isaiah 42:19-21

Sinless Servant, (blind to the glories of the kingdoms of the world during temptation in wilderness, deaf to the Devil’s suggestions).

Isaiah 49:5-12

Sent Servant, replacing Israel as servant, verse 3.  Sent to earth to suffer, verses 5-7; sent to earth again to reign and restore, verses 8-12.

Isaiah 50:4-9

Steadfast Servant, compare verse 7 with Luke 9:51.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Suffering and Successful Servant.

Each of the four gospels is written by someone specially appropriate.  In Mark’s case, he was chosen to accompany Paul and Barnabas on a preaching tour, Acts 13:5, (John = John Mark), yet he departed from them and returned to Jerusalem, 13:13.  When Barnabas suggested that Mark be taken with them again, Paul disagreed because he had not continued with them before, 15:37,38.  Later on, however, Paul writes to Timothy, “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry”, 2 Timothy 4:11.  This is Paul’s last epistle, so it is good that this commendation of Mark should be recorded before Paul died.  So a servant who lapsed and faltered, is found profitable at last, and he writes of Jehovah’s Servant who “shall not fail”, Isaiah 42:4, and who was profitable all the time.

The gospel may be divided into three parts, suggested by the words of Christ in Mark 10:45, the key verse of the gospel- “For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many”.  During His life, He served His Father and served men.

The ox was the servant in Israel’s rural community, ploughing the field, bringing home the sheaves, treading out the corn.  What the ox was in the natural world, Christ is in the spiritual, and it is Mark who emphasises the service of Christ. He ploughed up the hard hearts of men by His doctrine so that the seed of the Word of God could be sown and grow.  Then He “harvested” those who believed and brought them into blessing.  By His teaching He provided food for their souls.  The apostle Paul likened teachers to  “the ox that treadeth out the corn”, 1 Corinthians 9:9.

The ox was also an animal suitable to be offered in sacrifice on the altar.  So, having lived a life of service, He died in sacrifice, the highest of all forms of service.  In resurrection, the Lord Jesus sent forth His own to serve Him, but Mark tells us that “they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them”, Mark 16:20.  So He continues His service, but now He is yoked to others as they work together for the kingdom of God.


Mark chapters 1-10
Ox as servant.
Mark chapters 11-15 Ox as sacrifice.
Mark chapter 16 Ox as yoke-fellow, (20).


1:1-8 Greatest servant up to that time, see Luke 7:28.
1:9-15 Greatest servant of all: His Baptism, Temptation, Preaching.


Example of Christ to:

Evangelists,1:16-20.                                                                             Teachers, 1:21-28.
Pastors, 1:29-2:12. 

“He restoreth my soul”, Psalm 23:3.

Restoring the soul to enable to minister.
1:35-39 Restoring the soul by example in prayer and energy.
1:40-45 Restoring the soul to fellowship, (leper banished from community).
2:1-12 Restoring the soul to activity, (four who bore the palsied man are example to Simon, Andrew, James and John).

One of the key words in Mark is “immediately”, telling of Christ’s ready service.  But note that the disciples learnt this, so, e.g., Mark 1:18, “straitway”, (same word).

2:13-3:12    CALL OF LEVI  ( = MATTHEW), TO SERVICE.  “Follow Me”.

Following Christ:  

In relation to former friends
2:18-22 In relation to former covenant of Law.
2:23-28 In relation to former commands.
3:1-6 In relation to hostile religion.
3:7-12 In relation to popularity with men.


Lessons, warnings, encouragements, for servants:

Opposition of the Evil One.
Attraction of natural relationships
4:1-34 Instruction in teaching.
4:35-41 Confidence in Christ’s power in relation to  the elements.
5:1-20 Confidence in Christ’s power in relation to  demons.
5:21-43 Confidence in Christ’s power in relation to death and disease.

6:1-6        “A prophet is not without honour, but in His own country, and among His own kin, and in his own house”.

6:7-56    SENDING FORTH OF THE TWELVE TO SERVE (40 features of true service).

Conditions of faithful service.
6:14-29 Consequence of faithful service- John killed.
6:30-45 Confidence of faithful service-feed 5000.
6:46-52 Confidence of faithful service- walks on water.
6:53-56 Legalism hinders faithful service.
7:1-23 Commandment governing faithful service.
7:24-30 Balance in faithful service between grace and truth.
7:31-37 Example of faithful service- “He hath done all things well”.
8:1-9 Compassion in faithful service, (2).
8:10-13 Disappointment in faithful service, (12).
8:14-21 Frustrations in service, (21).
8:22-26 Enlightenment through service, (25).
8:27-31 Bold confession prepares for service, (29).
8:32-33 Pitfalls in service, (33).
8:34-38 Cost of service, (34).
9:1-13 Compensation of service, (place in kingdom).
9:14-29 Demands of service, (prayer and fasting), (28,29).
9:30-32 Suffering in service, (31).
9:33-37 Humility in service, (34).
9:38-41 Large-heartedness in service, (39).
9:42-50  Consecration for service, (49,50).
10:1-12 Uncompromising service, (11,12).
10:13-16 Tender-heartedness in service, (16).
10:17-22 Self-denial in service, (21).
10:23-31 Compensation of service, (reward, 30).
10:32-34 Sufferings of service, (32,33, Colossians 1:24).
10:35-45 Self-humbling in service, (43).
10:46-52 Mercy in service, (47).
11:1-11 Obedience in service, (1).
11:12-14 Fruitlessness in service, (13).
11:15-19 Courage in service, (15).
11:20-26 Faith and forgiveness in service, (22,25).
11:27-33 Authority for service, (28).
12:1-12 Fearlessness in service, (12).
12:13-17 Discernment in service, (15).
12:18-34 Intelligence for service, (24).
12:35-40 Exposure of error and hypocrisy in service, (35,38).
12:41-44 Example of self-denial in service, (44).
13:1-37 Need for watchfulness and prayerfulness in service, (33).
14:1-11 Devotion in service, (6).
14:12-16 Direction for service, (13).


14:17-21 To be betrayed, (18).
14:22-25 To die, (24).
14:26-31 To be deserted, (27), and denied, (30).
14:32-42 To be desolate, (34).
14:43-52 To be delivered up, (46).
14:53-65 To be deprived of justice, (56).
14:66-72 To be denied three times, (72).
15:1-15 Before Pilate, condemned to death, (1,15, and see Isaiah 49:7, roles will be reversed one day, and He who stood whilst Pilate sat, will sit whilst Pilate arises to worship).
15:16-21 Before soldiers, mocked, (16,20).
15:22-41 “To give His life a ransom for many”. (The highest service, 10:45).
15:42-47 The burial of the Servant.
16:1-8  The resurrection and vindication of the Servant.
16:9-11 Resurrection appearance of the Servant to Mary Magdalene- loyalty rewarded.
16:12-13 To two on road to Emmaus- sadness removed.
16:14 To the eleven- unbelief rebuked. (These three things could be related to the believer’s experience in resurrection; reward, joy, and removal of unbelief).
16:15-18  Authority from Risen Servant, (15).
16:20  Ascension of Servant.           Association of the Servant with His own as they serve.

It is fitting that the Gospel of the Servant should close with the expression “the Lord working”, for He still serves, (He has taken the form of a servant for ever), but He now does it through His people.  It is fitting also that He should be called Lord at the end, for even though He is in the form of a servant, He has not lost the form of God, Philippians 2:5,7- “took upon Him”, not replacing the form of God with the form of a servant, but combining them in His person).