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Gospel of Mark

Jesus, the Suffering Servant

Mark: The Prequel

Mark tells the story of Jesus that began way back in Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth through Jesus (see Colossians 1:15).

The story started very good. But humanity, God’s special and beloved creation, quickly spoiled things by rejecting the identity and the responsibility God gave them. Translation: they rejected God himself.

It would have been fair for God to reject humanity in return. But he didn’t. Instead, he chose a specific family — Abraham, father of Isaac, father of Jacob, aka Israel — to live as his people and to share his truth with all the nations.

Except they didn’t. They failed miserably.

At one point they were enslaved in Egypt for hundreds of years. Eventually they were led to freedom by a man named Moses. But on their journey to a new home, they messed up again and again. When they finally arrived in the Promised Land 40 years later, God gave them leaders called “judges” back then (see the book of Judges for their stories). Some did a good job and some failed miserably.

One day God’s people said, “No more judges. We want a king, like all the other nations have,” forgetting that they already had a King, God himself. Once again, God had every right to reject the people who rejected him. But he didn’t. He gave them what they asked for. A few of the kings did a good job. Most of them failed miserably. (Notice a pattern?) The most important king was David. God promised that someday one of David’s descendants would rescue his people.

Next failure: God’s chosen nation split in half. Bigger and stronger nations began attacking them. God sent prophets — people who spoke on God's behalf — to warn them about disobedience and unfaithfulness. The kings and the people mostly ignored the prophets.

Then, disaster.

First the northern part of the nation was defeated. The people were exiled. Then the southern part of the nation was defeated. The temple was destroyed. The people were exiled. They cried out to God for justice.

Generations later, a small group of exiles were allowed to return home. They began to rebuild the city walls and the temple. But life was difficult. They continued to cry out to God. God promised that someday a Messiah would come to rescue his people, restore the temple, and establish a new Kingdom.

For 400 years, powers kept shifting. Judea was ruled by Persians, then Greeks, and finally Romans. The Jews still waited and hoped for the promised Messiah to come and rescue them from their enemies. They waited, and waited, and waited some more, always hoping for a strong and mighty leader who would defeat the Romans, sit on the throne as King, and welcome God back to a bigger and better Temple.

And then, Jesus arrived. He wasn’t at all what the people expected. He didn’t bring an army. He didn’t strike down the Roman occupiers. He didn’t set up a powerful government. He didn’t rally a group of revolutionaries. He didn’t look or act anything like a mighty Messiah.

Instead he was a Suffering Servant. The book of Mark tells his story.

Watch the BibleProject videos for helpful background info, big-picture overview, and detailed outline of Mark.

For each lesson, we recommend reading aloud or listening to the specific passage. Check out Streetlights Bible​ for a dynamic audio recording. Or read aloud yourselves, making the passage come alive and engage people's hearts and minds.

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007, 2103 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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