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Join us this autumn as we come face to face with Jesus and explore together what it means to be a follower of him.

Over 13 weeks we’ll be walking through Mark’s gospel. The weeks are deliberately not dated so you can pick up the studies when you can – this is not a regimented programme!


COMMENT: Welcome to week 1! Each week you'll find a link to the Bible passage below along with any useful accompanying resources. This week we're including a visually arresting overview of Mark's gospel from the Bible Project - well worth a look!


COMMENT: Jesus shook his audiences, not by rejecting the things they held dear (fasting, observing the sabbath, loving the family) but by reframing them. Significantly, he says that everything should be understood in relation to HIM. | GOING DEEPER: Over the course of these studies we'll be including some additional resources for those of you who would like to explore an aspect of Mark's gospel in greater depth. This is entirely optional! This week our passage includes Jesus' teaching on blaspheming against the Holy Spirit (3:28-29). If you're concerned about this, you may find the article helpful.


COMMENT: In this chapter we find four of Jesus' parables about the kingdom of God and one story about Jesus calming the storm which we'll skip for now (don't worry, we'll return to this when we get to Week 5!). | GOING DEEPER: Jesus' comment in verses 11 and 12 about why he speaks in parables is intriguing! You may find it helpful to watch the video from the Bible Project about how to read the parables of Jesus.


COMMENT: This week we read about the healing of three individuals: the demon-possessed man; the woman haemorrhaging blood, and - most astonishing of all - the raising up of a girl who has died.


COMMENT: We've already heard a great deal about Jesus' authority (and, of course, there's more about that here), but the truly astonishing thing is that in these verses Jesus authorises his disciples to share in his work in the world (verse 7). Wow! | GOING DEEPER: In this chapter we find a second story about Jesus calming the storm. Let's put that story beside the one we read previously in 4:35-41. The video on 'King of the Sea' by Andrew Wilson was one of the stand-out moments of the Advance Theology Course last year. It's an eye-opening example of how many layers of depth we find in the gospels. - Watch the video. How do you respond to this Jesus?


COMMENT: There's a surprise in these verses. In the first half of the chapter, Jesus criticises members of the religious establishment who are nevertheless far from God. In the second half, he ministers to outsiders who aren’t part of the family of God’s people at all, the Gentile "dogs". Jesus turns everything upside down!


COMMENT: We now come to the centrepiece of Mark's Gospel. For seven chapters, the central question has been "Who is this Jesus?" Now, at last, Peter apparently (but only briefly) "gets it". But no sooner has the penny dropped for Peter, than Jesus begins to define his Messiahship - and discipleship - in terms of the cross. This is shocking stuff, to put it mildly! Jesus' words in verses 34-37 set the scene for the chapters that follow. [Important note: The term "Christ" is the Greek word for "Messiah".] | GOING DEEPER: You may enjoy the video from the Bible Project that traces the theme of "Messiah" through the Bible.


COMMENT: We're now firmly in the section of Mark's gospel that explores the meaning of what it means to be a "disciple". Time and time again, Jesus is keen to impress on his followers that they're part of an upside-down kingdom. Now would be a good time to watch the video from the Bible Project on the Gospel of the Kingdom. Jesus' original disciples were slow to "get it". Are we?


COMMENT: As he concludes his middle section on discipleship, Mark includes another healing story that's parallel to (but not identical with) the story with which the section starts (in 8:22-26). In putting the healing of blind Bartimaeus at the climax of this section, Mark intends to present him to us as an exemplary disciple (in contrast to Jesus' other disciples in the earlier verses!).


COMMENT: Mark's gospel is divided into three broad sections: chapters 1 to 7; chapters 8 to 10, and chapters 11 to 16. We're now in final section of Mark's gospel as Jesus journeys to Jerusalem ... and the cross.


COMMENT: What makes these verses tricky is that there are two things going on simultaneously. Jesus is talking both about the destruction of Jerusalem (which actually happened in AD 70) and the end of history (which is obviously still future). But while these events are separated in time, Jesus deals with them as if they're closely related. | GOING DEEPER: This is a difficult chapter to understand. The more theologically minded may appreciate the video snippet from the Advance Theology Course in which Andrew Wilson provides some insights into what’s going on.


COMMENT: We're so familiar with the story of Jesus' sufferings and ultimate execution that the narrative can lose its impact. Yet, this is a shocking section: this is Israel's long-awaited, God-appointed, deliverer-king that we're talking about! Let's read this section in conjunction with the ancient prophecy in Isaiah 53. Where do you find echoes of Isaiah in Mark's words?


COMMENT: Mark leaves his account of Jesus’ life on a cliff-hanger. Watch the video from the Bible Project which looks back at Mark’s gospel as a whole and suggests an explanation for why it ends the way it does. How do you respond?

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