Of all 4 gospels the book of Mark is the most translated. Part of this may be because it is the shortest but also the gospel of Mark was written with a gentile (non Jewish) audience in mind. In this gospel Mark not only presents Jesus as the Son of God but also as the suffering servant Messiah, which amazes Mark who in the 16 chapters uses the words amazed, astonished or astonishment 15 times. Given Marks's background he feels he should know how a ruler should act, but after seeing Jesus and hearing Peter's account of many of the events. Mark is truly amazed.
So first let us take a look at Mark's background.
First we know that he was a Jew and that he came from a wealthy family. His mother was one of the Mary’s that followed Jesus and in the 12th chapter of Acts we get a glimpse of their surroundings.
In this story Peter had been in prison and an angel came and opened the prison doors. At first Peter though he was in a vision but then realized that he was free.
When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter's voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, "Peter is at the door!"
This scripture shows us;
1. That Mark lived in a house large enough for many people to be gathered together praying.
2. It was behind a closed compound because Peter had to knock at the outer entrance. Only the homes of the wealth were in these compounds.
3. Marks family had servants.
Then Colisions 4:10 tells us that Mark was a cousin of Barnabas;
My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.)
Mark was taken by Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey, traveling with them to the island of Cyprus. But, for some reason -- we are never told quite why -- Mark refused to go with them when they went on into the mainland of what today is Turkey. Instead he went back home to his mother's house. Paul was upset about that, and evidently felt that Mark was a quitter.
This indicates that maybe he was used to a softer, gentler life and was unable at that time to take the pressures of Paul’s missionary journeys.
However I do want to point out in later years Paul changed his opinion of Mark.
2 Timothy 4:11
Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
We discover as Mark matures he becomes the faithful companion of the Apostle Peter. Peter, who speaks very affectionately of this young man -- calls him "Mark, my son" in his first letter (1 Peter 5:13).
Eusebius, a church father writing in the third century, says that the early Christians were so entranced with all the things Peter told them that they asked Mark to write them down. Perhaps that is how we got The Gospel According to Mark, for it reflects much of Peter's memories and experiences with Jesus.
We also see evidence of Mark writing this gospel with a Gentile audience in mind. Listen to the first verse from the Book of Mark.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
I think it is interesting to note where Mark feels “The Beginning of the Gospel” is. Mark with a gentile (Non Jewish) audience in mind skips the geology which was very important to the Jews; he skips the story of Jesus’ trip into Egypt and the story of Jesus as a boy. Mark starts the beginning of his gospel or ‘Good News” with the voice crying in the wilderness preparing the way of our Lord.
Now here is where speculation comes in but I think it is interesting and could be relevant to the way that Mark sees Jesus.
First is the story that is found ONLY in the book of Mark. Mark 14:50-52. It is the story of Jesus' betrayal and arrest. Mark tells us that as Jesus was being led away by the soldiers, a young man followed him, wearing nothing but a linen cloth about his body. The soldiers apparently thinking he was a disciple of Jesus’ who had been foolish enough to remain behind while all the others had run for their lives, the soldiers attempted to seize him. But all they got was the cloth as he ran naked into the night. Many scholars have suggested that this was Mark, for he would have been a "young man" at that time. It was a story of a young man watching from afar and was still in the garden when the others had fled plus the fact that Mark is the only one who mentions this incident is highly suggestive that this indeed was Mark himself.
Next we have a story that is recorded in all three synoptic gospels which is the story of the rich young ruler Many of you will remember the story of when a “rich young ruler” comes to Jesus and asks, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Then Jesus replied, "Have you kept the commandments?" The young man said he had kept them from his youth. Then Mark records something that neither of the other accounts tell us. He says, "And Jesus looking upon him loved him," Mark 10:21 none of the other gospels tell this snippet of personal information that only the rich young ruler would have seen. How did Mark know how Jesus looked at this man? How did He know the love and compassion that must have flowed from our Saviors eyes?
So MAYBE that little story of the young man who ran away without his robe is Mark's way of telling us that the rich young ruler who went from Jesus so sorrowfully -- as the account tells us, because he had great possessions -- did not remain sad, that later on, having thought things over, he made the commitment Jesus required of him.. He gave up his inheritance, and all he had left was a robe -- and he lost even that, and finally, he came and followed Jesus.
At any rate Mark seems to be totally fascinated by what he sees in Jesus; the Ruler who is a Servant, and the Servant who RULES.
Here is this young man that has his ideas about how a ruler should act. Why a rules doesn’t serve. Yet here is the man Christ Jesus that astounds the multitude with His doctrine.
Read Mark 1:27 And they were astonished at his doctrine (teaching): for He taught the as one that had authority and not as the scribes.
Luke 4:22 puts it this way And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son.”
Jesus did not tell them of traditions, rituals or customs, but spoke of love, forgiveness, mercy...matters of the heart.
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
And they were astonished at his doctrine (teaching): for He taught the as one that had authority and not as the scribes.
Here is a man that rules over the wind and the waves yet He says: Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
Mark 6:50-51 For they all saw Him, and were troubled. And immediately He talked with them, and said unto them, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased; and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.
Here is a man that ruled over sickness and disease.
In Mark 2:12 they were amazed when a man who was stricken with the palsy and let down by four friends was instantly healed.
And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
Here is a man that rules over death and yet He: “charged them strictly that no man should know it.” Mark 5:43
Mark 5:42 And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment. And He charged them strictly that no man should know it; and commanded that something should be given her to eat.
Here ruled over the wind and the sea, over sickness and disease and even over death itself. Yet he served the people even to the point of exhaustion. To the point that his friends came to take him away to rest but he would not go.
Mark 3:20-21 And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.
And a few verses down his mother and sisters also come but he will not leave the ministering of the people.
Because he came to seek and save that which is lost.
He taught his disciples
Matthew 20: 26-27
But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
It is no wonder Mark continues to express to us the astonishment the amazement of all who came to know this Jesus of Nazareth.
I hope that you too will be amazed at the man Christ Jesus as we begin to look at the life of not just a man, but the Son of God our Savior our Lord.
I hope during this Bible Study you will see His amazing love and experience His amazing grace