I love the Gospel of Mark. Not only is the Gospel action packed but it is the Gospel that does its best to keep you from fully understanding Jesus until the time is just right. We call this the Messianic secret, which are those odd moments were Jesus tells both people and demons to be silent about his identity…to not share with others the news about Jesus (Mark 1:43-44 for instance)
This makes Mark the perfect Gospel for studying with non-Christians as it keeps the question of who Jesus truly is up in the air as the pile of evidence begins to grow via his teaching and miracles. Slowly but surely, the identity of Jesus begins to emerge from the details. His authority is demonstrated and slowly points to his identity as the Son of God and Messiah.
On one hand, Mark reads like Jesus is on break-neck pace through Galilee and Judea…going here and there and doing things in rapid succession. On the other hand, Mark paces the narrative, to allow these details that point to Jesus’ identity, slow enough to let them sink in and not rush the process of discovery. It takes Mark 8 chapters before Jesus allows his true identity to be disclosed by Peter. Now, Mark tells us in 1:1 that Jesus is the Messiah but he allows there to be 8 chapters leading up to a clear confession and admission of Jesus’ true identity. Mark spends the last 8 chapters taking that conclusion and illustrating it more fully.
This is the inductive method at its best and it is a fantastic Gospel for teaching people who don’t know Jesus about Jesus’ identity as the Son of God. It took the disciples several years to really understand Jesus, his identity and his message. Yet, we expect non-Christians to get it within a week or three or else we feel we have failed somehow. These things take time. They take prayer. They take patience to allow people to wrap their minds around the identity of Jesus without the benefit of all the teaching most of us have experienced in our lifetimes and yet still struggle, at times, with our relationship with Jesus.
A few years ago, I took this idea and wrote a 4 week evangelistic and inductive study that allows Mark to let us in on the identity of Jesus. If you would like to download this for yourself or to use to study with others you can download it here – Jesus 101.