Will the real Jesus please stand up?
Searching for the true Jesus in the book of Mark
If you’re new to reading the Bible or investigating the life and teaching of Jesus, then Mark is a great place to start. It’s the shortest of the 'gospels' (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), and Mark wanted it to be an action-packed biography of Jesus that made sense to people who didn’t have a background in Jewish customs and culture.
Why should I trust Mark?
Lots of people have different ideas and opinions about Jesus, but it’s important to trust the account given to us by people who know what they’re talking about. This guy Mark tagged along on many of the early missionary journeys with the head honchos of early Christianity: the Apostles Paul and Peter. That means Mark was able to write down stories from Peter’s viewpoint, almost like his scribe. Since Peter was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, Mark is relying on eye witness details to write his book. There’s no one alive today, 2000 years later, that could possibly be in a better position to inform us about Jesus than one of his own disciples who was actually there to see it all happen!
How should I read it?
The most important thing is your attitude – keep in mind God has chosen the Bible to be the way he speaks to us. Humility, thankfulness, eagerness and excitement should all be in our hearts, because God himself is telling us about His Son, Jesus. Start by praying and asking God to help you understand what you read and know what to do about it afterwards.
There’s no special rule about how to read your Bible, but I’ll share what works for me.
The best thing to do first is read the whole book through for yourself. Go grab a copy of the Bible or New Testament and turn to Mark. If you don’t have your own Bible, you can read it online here.
As you go, you might find it helpful to ask questions like these:
- What stands out to me? What do I find confusing? What do I find interesting?
- What on earth does that word mean?
- I’ve seen that word or phrase a lot, what’s the big deal?
- How could I summarise that paragraph or chapter? What’s the big idea here?
- What’s new to me? What have I heard before that is similar?
- What am I learning about Jesus? How is it different to what I thought?
- What might God want me to know? What might God want me to do?
I like to write those sorts of things down as I read because it helps keep me focused. It also means I can come back to my question later without having to stop. You might find something else works for you – that’s great too. The main idea is simply to start reading it!