The book of Mark is filled with rapid actions, vivid details and descriptions. When the book was written, it was meant to be read by Gentiles and Roman laymen. It was said that the Roman mind was impressed more by action and power than by discourse and dialogue. Therefore, even as the book was written by Mark, he had this audience in mind. The fast pace of the book can keep you reading until the end of the 16 chapters!
Some Tips on How to Read the book of Mark
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many.” Mark 10:46
Scan through the book of Mark
- Read through the headings and titles, read the beginning and the ending of each paragraph. No need to read the whole thing first, just glance through.
- Write down first impressions and the atmosphere of the whole book.
- List any key words and phrases that stands out to you after the first reading.
As you do this, keep these notes close to you when you begin to read the book. You may add to the notes or even change some things that you have written as you read.
Remember you were told that the book is fast paced and full of drama? The danger of that is we will tend to read it through without pausing and may miss the essential parts of the gospel. Jesus plays a vital part in gospel. In the book of Mark, every action and deed by Jesus is an act of Him serving others. Therefore, in order for us not to miss this, we may do as the following:
At every encounter
- Feel the pulse of the encounter
- Sense what is happening/the atmosphere. Who are the different people in the encounter?
- Look at Jesus’ servant heart
- What did Jesus do? Why did He do it in that manner? What did Jesus feel during the encounter?
- Notice the changes (How has the encounter with Jesus affect others?).
By identifying the above, we can have a better picture of Jesus in action but backed with scenes from the Bible.
Reflections on the Gospel of Mark
To serve or to be served?
As I took time to read and reflect on the book of Mark, a theme came to mind. I was reminded of the name of God I gave at last year Camp Cameron, ‘God my walking stick.’ This personal name was that I have given to God was due the hard times that I have faced and the Lord has been there journeying me through uncertain times. Hence the verse that caught my heart as I read Mark was in chapter 10:45 where it says, “for even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as ransom for many.”
Even as you read Mark, you will see and experience that Jesus was the center of all the encounters. However, when you observe deeper, the core of Jesus’ heart was the people around him. Personally, I felt that everything He did and responded was born out of a heart that is genuinely concerned for people. While Jesus is the main character, we became His main reason that laid down His life to serve. Let’s serve today with a servant’s heart.
When James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus, they ask, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” In which Jesus replied, “What do you want for me to do for you?” They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.”
After explaining the seats to His left and right are not for Him to grant for those placed belongs to those whom they have been prepared, Jesus continued to say, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave for all.”
As I allow the Word of God to read me, I reflected how sometimes we are like James and John. How often do we see ourselves coming to God, throwing tantrums, seeking justifications or expecting our demands to be met? While Jesus is always there to listen, He may also responds to us in the most mind-boggling way: “You want to be first? Be a servant.”
Following the Jesus’ Way
For Jesus, being first does not begin by giving instructions, but on the contrary, one who receives instructions. The first does not sits and shake their legs, but the first to kneel and get their hands dirty. For Jesus has shown us first hand through his life, His way of being first is when the first thing you do is being a servant.
I have seen many of us longs to serve the Lord. But, somehow I noticed that many of us have failed to serve with a heart of a servant. Many of us long to be worship leaders, musicians, speakers, leaders but many of us do not want to sweep the floors, arrange the chairs and greet people with a smile. Has the mandate to serve changed into a tool to push for popularity? Is serving about us? Doing what we want or like only?
For me, serving the Jesus’ way sometimes mean that we do things that are unpopular. Serving the Jesus’ way also means we get our hands dirty by laboring and putting our heart to it even at smallest of tasks we are assigned to. Lastly, serving the Jesus’ ways also means that we are willing to give up on the things that we yearn or master in doing and willing to do and be where God wants us to be.