Ken’s Pennings – Prepare Now for our Lenten Focus on the Gospel of Mark

During Lent, we’ll be exploring the Gospel of Mark in a number of ways, including a Lenten Devotional called “A Word A Day,” Home Groups, Sunday Sermons, and a Dramatic Performance by Broadway, film and TV actor James Krag on March 25th called “According to Mark.”

We’re urging the congregation to read through the entire Gospel individually and/or with families (33 pages in the Harper Study Bible, or any version you choose) during Lent.

As we read, we may want to look for the following themes:
• A new understanding of Messiah – prophet, teacher and miracle worker, not military leader
• Suffering, serving King
• Discipleship as self-sacrificing service to God
• The unfinished ending — What does Mark’s unusual ‘first’ ending offer us as people of faith?

Some, who hold that Matthew and Luke used Mark as a major source, have suggested that Mark may have been composed in the 50s or early 60s. Since Mark’s Gospel is traditionally associated with Rome, it may have been occasioned by the persecutions of the Roman church in the period A.D. 64-67, thus Mark’s many references, both explicit and veiled, to suffering and discipleship throughout the Gospel (see 1:12-13; 3:22,30; 8:34-38; 10:30,33-34,45; 13:8,11-13).

Most scholars reject the tradition which ascribes the Gospel to Mark the Evangelist, the companion of Peter, and regard it as the work of an unknown author working with various sources including collections of miracle stories, controversy stories, parables, and a passion narrative.

Mark’s Gospel is a simple, succinct, unadorned, yet vivid account of Jesus’ ministry, emphasizing more what Jesus did than what he said. Mark moves quickly from one episode in Jesus’ life and ministry to another, often using the adverb “immediately.” There is no genealogy or birth narrative, nor, in the original ending at chapter 16, any post-resurrection appearances. It portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, a healer. Jesus is also the Son of God, but he keeps his identity secret, concealing it in parables so that even the disciples fail to understand.

As we read, study, discuss, preach and perform the Gospel of Mark, remember that there is great value not only in what the text brings to us, but in what we bring to the text. Let’s discover together how our lives intersect with the Gospel of Mark!

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