Key word: Servant “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto [served], but to minister [serve], and to give his life a ransom for many.” - Mark 10:45
Why Written: Presenting Christ as Servant of All
While the Gospel of Mark is second in the order of the books of the New Testament, it is probable that this work was the first to be written (c. AD 56-65). The purpose of the writing was to reach the Roman world with the good news of redemption. To do this, Mark presents Christ as “Servant of all” (Mark 10:44). He is “meek and lowly,” and “came not to be served, but to serve.” The phrase “Son of man” positions Him as a servant. By using a short, jumpy writing style, Mark highlights the often busy schedule of Jesus, moving from one scene to the next with intense activity. A servant is not known by what he says, but by what he does.
Jesus continually gave Himself to the needs of the peoplein teaching, healing, and performing miracles. In the entire record, there is not one sentence of His seeking to be served, or even serving Himself. It is all a continuous serving of others, right through the washing of the disciples’ feet in the Upper Room. Yet He is always in perfect serenity and controlnever frustrated, angry, or reacting in a self-centered way.
The Gospel of Mark begins with a fast pace in the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. The Lord is about 30 years old. His initial ministry will be concentrated in Galilee and Capernaum where Peter lived. Nothing is said of the Lord's birth, infancy, or childhood, nor of those associated with Him during these early years. While these things are very important, Mark wants to emphasize the service of Jesus and His miracles.
Mark’s focus is primarily toward the Roman world. Mark wants to prove that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, with power manifested in the mighty miracles He performed. The Romans respected power. They would be impressed with divine authority that could subdue the elements, cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, the deaf to hear, and the dead to live. Mark was anxious to tell the world of Rome about the miracles of the Messiah.
A Young Man of Privilege and Destiny
Mark was uniquely gifted to present Christ to the Roman world, as his life's story reveals. Mark was the son of Mary, known as “Mary of Jerusalem,” (Acts 12:12) to distinguish her from four others with the same name. According to Luke, his full name was John Mark (Acts 15:27). Paul and Peter referred to him by his Latin (or Roman) name of Marcus (Col. 4:10; Phil. 1:24; 1 Pet. 5:13).
John Mark came from a wealthy family which enjoyed having its own house and employed servants. But the gifts of God's grace were not used for selfish things. As a follower of the Lord, Mary opened her home to the Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12-17). Some have suggested that the Last Supper was held in the Upper Room of her home.
If the “young man” referred to in this gospel (14:51) is Mark himself, then there was one dreadful night that he never forgot. It was the night Jesus was arrested. As the tragic event began to unfold, there was a great noise in the streets of Jerusalem. John Mark would have been awakened at midnight by the commotion in the courtyards. Draping a linen cloth about his body, he hastily ran outside to discover the terrible situation of the One he knew so well, Jesus. The situation proved overwhelming and terrifying; John Mark fled in fear into the night, along the side of more mature men (14:50).
Despite that tragic moment, John Mark went on to become a disciple of Jesus Christ and himself a supportive “servant” of Peter, Paul, and Barnabas. Perhaps Peter led John Mark to the Lord (cp. 1 Pet. 5:13). As time went on and the gospel began to be taken to other parts of the Roman world, John Mark was honored to join the group of apostles and evangelists who were sent out by the church in Jerusalem to the churches in Judea and Samaria, then to Antioch in Syria, then onward to Ephesus in the West in Asia Minor, and finally to Rome.
The year is AD 44. John Mark is found to be a traveling companion of Barnabas and Paul, who have been sent by the church at Antioch with contributions for the suffering saints of Jerusalem following a famine there. Barnabas and Paul arrived safely, delivered the money, and were ready to go back to Antioch when a question arose. Could John Mark travel with them? Of course! And so it was that Barnabas and Paul and John Mark returned to Antioch to preach the gospel with great power and results. Then the Holy Spirit prompted Barnabas and Paul to embark on their First Missionary Journey. In AD 45 the adventure began. Could John Mark come with them? Of course!
The missionaries got on board a boat whose sails were set for the islands of Cyprus. From there, the journey would be made to the mainland of Asia Minor in the districts of Pamphylia and Galatia. But then something happened. At the town of Perga, John Mark made a decision to go no further. We know nothing more of his motive, but John Mark withdrew from the pilgrimage and returned to Jerusalem.
A few years later, in AD 50, a Second Missionary Journey was proposed. Once more it was suggested that John Mark go along. However, unlike the first time, Paul would not agree. John Mark had deserted them. John Mark had proven unfaithful. John Mark was not to be trusted. Heated words were exchanged between Barnabas and Paul. Passion heated up. Finally, a decision was made. Paul would leave the area with Silas. Barnabas could travel with John Mark to Cyprus.
Twelve years later the story resumes. Nothing has been heard of John Mark during the interval. Suddenly, he appears in two Pauline letters. Whatever differences of opinion there had been, it is obvious that they have been forgiven and forgotten (cp. Col. 4:10 with Philemon 1:24). Writing from a prison cell in Rome c. AD 61, Paul refers to John Mark as his companion and fellow-laborer.
The remaining life of John Mark is shrouded with mystery. It is believed that he worked closely with Peter until the apostle met death in AD 67. Following the martyrdom of Peter, John Mark, according to legend, became the founder and first bishop of the church in Alexandria, Egypt, the second largest city of the Roman empire at the time. Whatever his ultimate destiny may have been, it is certain that John Mark has given to the world an authentic gospel of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Authenticity of Authorship
The authorship of Mark is attributed to him by Papias, bishop of Hierapolis and a disciple of the Apostle John. Writing c. AD 135, Papias quotes an earlier presbyter who stated that Mark was Peter's interpreter. “Mark, having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately, though not in order, as many as he remembered of the things said or done by the Lord. For he neither had heard the Lord nor followed Him, but at a later time, as I said, he attached himself to Peter, who delivered his instructions according to the needs of the occasion, but not with a view to giving a systematic account of the Lord's sayings” (As quoted by Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiae, III. 39). Justin Martyr (early Christian writer and martyr, c. 100 -165), Clement of Alexandria (c. 155-220), and Irenaeus (bishop of Lyons in southern France, c. 175-195) also support the position that Mark wrote on Peter's behalf, thereby giving to the world a dramatic narrative of the apostle's early days with Christ.
In addition to the external evidence for Mark writing on behalf of Peter, there is internal evidence (within the book itself). The influence of Peter is pervasive. Three important events illustrate this: the raising of the daughter of Jarius, the Transfiguration, and the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane. Only James, John, and Peter were present when these events took place. James was soon killed by Herod (Acts 12:2). John wrote an independent gospel. That left only Peter as a reliable source to relate these events, which he did, to John Mark.
Another evidence for Peter's influence upon Mark's gospel is revealed in the fact that the small details recorded by others which made Peter look good are omitted (cp. Mark 8:29 with Matt. 16:17-19), while those moments of the apostle's personal failures are included (note Mark 8:33 and 14:67-72). There are few people who would record for posterity the truth about their moral and spiritual deficiencies.
The greatness of redeeming grace is revealed in the position of humility that Peter takes. One distinguishing characteristic of Mark's gospel is the use of the terms “straightway” and “immediately.” These words are used more than 40 times to present a connected narrative of the ministry of Jesus. There is much more chronology in Mark's Gospel than in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
Overview of Mark
Following the pattern of all four Gospels, Mark may be grouped into three broad sections: 1) the period before Jesus’ public ministry, 2) the three years of public ministry, and 3) the last week of His physical life on earth. It divides as follows:
1. Sanctification 1:1 - 1:13 John the Baptist, temptation
2. Service 1:14 - 10 preaching, teaching, miracles
3. Sacrifice 11 - 16 the last week Sanctification Chapter 1:1 - 1:13
The beginning of the Lord's public ministry is the starting point for Mark's narrative. Jesus is immediately set forth as “the Christ” [Greek: the Anointed One, i.e. the Messiah], the Son of Godand thus the incarnate Deity. John the Baptist is declared to be the forerunner of the Messiah according to prophecy (Mal. 3:1, cp. Isa. 40:3). Though the mighty Son of God, the Messiah has come as the Servant of the Sovereign. As the obedient Servant, through the cleansing ritual of baptism, He shall identify Himself with those He has come to seek and to save (cp. Matt. 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22). The Messiah will be baptized and He will also be tempted by the devil to test His true humanity (cf. Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). He will emerge victorious over Satan (Heb. Adversary).
Service Chapters 1:14 - 10
Chapters 1:14 - 4:34 Jesus began His Galilean ministry. His main place of residency was in Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee. Twelve apostles were called to be with Him. Many miracles took place in the vicinity of Capernaum amidst rising opposition. The unpardonable sin is discussed (3:20-30). This sin refers to ascribing to Satan the works of God (note Matt. 12:24- 37).
Chapters 4:35 - 9 The Lord expands His Galilean ministry. During a two year period, evangelistic work will be conducted all around the Sea of Galilee. The Lord will preach in Tyre and Sidon. He will move on to the east side of Galilee, and go north to minister to Bethsaida and Caesarea Philippi. His glory will be manifested in the Transfiguration despite growing opposition from the Pharisees. When they challenged Christ by asking for a sign, the Lord spoke harsh words of judgment against them (8:10-21). Finally, the time came when the Lord departed from Galilee. The sovereignty of the Servant over Satan and his spirits was clearly demonstrated.
Demons are fallen angels who have become evil or unclean spirits by rebelling against God's rule and reign (Mk. 1:23 with Mk. 1:32-34; Rev. 16:13-16; Matt. 12:26-27; 25:41). While limited in power, demons can do much damage by inflicting men with diseases. Some angels have been incarcerated until the day of judgment (Jude 6; 2 Pet. 2:4). Many are free to roam the universe for a limited time.
Chapter 10 The Lord spent six months in Perea and Judea. Mark mentions this period only briefly. Perea refers to the area across Jordan from Samaria, extending from the Decapolis east of the Sea of Galilee, and south to the Dead Sea. Herod Antipas ruled this region. Jesus taught on divorce declaring that God designed marriage to be permanent.
Sacrifice Chapters 11 - 16
Most of Mark's gospel tells the story of the Last Week. Specific details receive special attention, such as the triumphal entry into Jerusalem (chapter 11); the driving of the greedy money changers from the Temple area (11); the open hostility toward the Lord from the Pharisees and Sadducees (12); the coming judgment on Jerusalem (13); the Passover and Last Supper (14); Gethsemane (14); the betrayal, arrest, and trial (14); and finally the Crucifixion (15).
Concerning the Last Supper, it is instructive to learn that the Passover meal followed a standard pattern in Jewish homes. Prior to the meal, everyone would wash their hands. It was at this point that Jesus probably washed the feet of the disciples (John 13:4-12). The meal proper began with an opening prayer, which consisted of the blessing of the cup. This was the first of four cups of wine passed round during the ceremony. After the first cup of wine was tasted, each person would take bitter herbs and dip them in salt water (Matt. 26:23). Next, the head of the family would take one of three flat cakes of unleavened bread, break it, and put some aside. In response to a question from the youngest member of the family, the story of the first Passover would be told, and Psalms 113 and 114 would be sung.
The second cup (Luke 22:17) would be filled and passed around. Grace would be offered; the bread would be broken. Bitter herb dipped in sauce is distributed (which is when Jesus gave the sop to Judas, John 13:26). The festive meal of roast lamb is eaten. After this, Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper by breaking the bread laid aside earlier. A third cup of wine, the cup of blessing, is passed (Matt. 26:26,28). The ritual continues with the singing of the remaining ‘Hallel’ (hallelujah) Psalms (115-118) and the ‘Great Hallel’ Psalm 136 (cp. Matt. 26:30). The final cup of wine is drunk, where Jesus said, “This is My blood of the new testament (covenant), which is shed for many” (Mark 14:24).
Chapter 16 The resurrection and the forty days prior to the ascension are dealt with in this final chapter. The general events associated with the resurrection of Christ may be summarized, keeping in mind that specific details and the exact chronology of events are not agreed upon by all Bible students (cp. Matt. 28:1-10; Mark 16:1-11; Luke 24:1-12; John 20:1-18).
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
1. Late Saturday afternoon, during the early part of the evening, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome purchased some spices in preparation for the anointing of the body of Jesus. They had followed Joseph of Arimathaea to the burial site and knew exactly where the Lord was buried. Mark 16:1 And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him (cp. Matt. 28:1).
2. Rising early on the first day of the week, Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome decided to visit the tomb. Mark 16:2And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun (cp. Luke 24:1).
3. Mary Magdalene must have arrived first at the sepulcher, for she saw that the stone had been taken away from the grave and that the body was gone. Extremely upset, Mary Magdalene fled the area to find Simon Peter and John who, upon hearing the news, moved as quickly as they could towards the burial site. John 20: 1-4 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulcher, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulcher. So they ran both together.
4. While Mary Magdalene went in search of Peter and John, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome arrived at the tomb along with some other women (cp. Luke 24:1,10). Later, the women would have different parts to contribute to the telling of the story. Their narrative began by remembering that on the way to the tomb, a general discussion took place as to how entrance would be gained into the sepulcher. Mark 16:3And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher?
5. When the women arrived at the tomb, to everyone’s amazement, the massive stone covering had been rolled away! Matthew 28:2And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it (cp. Mark 16:4; Luke 24:2; John 20:1).
6. The women who had been apprehensive about the Roman soldiers now saw that they posed no threat to anyone. Indeed, they had become living corpses. Matthew 28:4And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
7. Since there was nothing to fear from the soldiers, and since the tomb was wide open, the women were inclined to go in when suddenly, they saw an angel! He was sitting on the top of the stone which he had rolled from the door of the grave. Matthew 28:2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
8. The appearance of the angel was spectacular. Matthew 28:3. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:
9. The angel began to speak. Matthew 28:5-7And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.
10. Obedient to the heavenly injunction, some of the women departed only to be met by the resurrected Lord Himself who spoke to them! Matthew 28:8-10And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
11. While some of the women were meeting the Lord on the road leading back to Jerusalem, others stayed behind to enter into the tomb. Once inside the burial chamber, the women were amazed to discover more angelic beings. One had been sitting at the site where the Lord’s body had lain. Mark 16:5. And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted... The angel stood up, and another angel appeared to stand with him. Luke 24:4And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
12. The younger looking angel began to speak. Mark 16:6-7And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
13. Then the other angel spoke. He, too, wanted the women not to be afraid, and not to bow before them. There was good news. Luke 24:5-7And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
14. The women arose from their prostrate position before the angels and departed in haste to tell the eleven, and everyone else they could find, the good news about the Living Lord. Mark 16:8And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulcher; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. Luke 24:9And returned from the sepulcher, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest
15. Soon after the departure of the women from the tomb, Peter and John arrived, rather breathless. They had been running, with John taking the lead over Peter. Though John was the first of the disciples to arrive at the grave, he did not want to go inside. John 20:5And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in.
16. Peter had no such hesitation. He who could be vacillating and fearful could also be bold as a lion. Peter was determined to see just what had happened. John 20:6-10 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulcher, and seeth the linen clothes li.e. And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulcher, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.
17. Now Mary Magdalene, who had finally caught up with Peter and John, stayed behind after their departure. It did not matter if the men left because during this period, no one was really talking much. They were all too amazed at the situation. Besides, no one knew for certain what was happening. John and Peter did not perceive that Jesus had arisen from the dead, nor did Mary. She thought that someone had stolen the body, or at least moved it. All Mary could do for the moment was to stand and weep and wonder. John 20:11 But Mary stood without at the sepulcher weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher,
18. With the teardrops still streaming down her face, Mary looked inside the sepulcher. Though she did not know it, Mary was looking into the face of heavenly creatures, for the angels were now back. John did not see them. Peter did not see them, but Mary did. John 20:12And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.
19. One of the angels began to speak. John 20:13a. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? Mary responded. John 20:13b. She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.
20. That was all she could say. Standing up from her stooped position, Mary began to weep again. Though sobbing heavily, she heard another voice. Mary turned towards the voice. John 20:14aAnd when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing ....
21. But she did not know it was the Lord John 20:14band knew not that it was Jesus.
22. Oh, but in matchless and marvelous grace, the Lord began to speak to this lady who loved Him so much. John 20:15aJesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? Mary, thinking that she was speaking to a gardener said unto Him, John 20:15bSir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. How Mary thought she might move the body without the help of anyone else is not known. Love has a strength of its own. But no, Mary, you do not have to take the body anywhere. And Mary, you are not talking to a gardener. You are talking to your God!
23. John 20:16Jesus saith unto her, Mary. Just one word, that was all Jesus said, and it was enough. Her name, and her Lord. It was the Lord! Jesus once said, “My sheep hear my voice. They know it and they follow me.” Mary Magdalene knew the voice of her Shepherd. With sudden force Mary turned herself in the direction of the Voice, John 20:16b and saith unto him, “Rabboni; which is to say, Master!” Yes, Mary, it is the Master. Rushing to Him, Mary Magdalene embraced her Lord and her Savior with all the love that a surprised and joyous heart can express. So fierce was her grasp on the Lord that something had to be said. John 20:17aJesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.
24. Jesus had something He wanted Mary to do. She must go and share what she had seen. She must tell the men. So Jesus said to Mary, John 20:17b ...go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
25. In obedience to the will of the Lord, Mary went. John 20:18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her. Fourteen Glorious Appearances of the Risen Christ
1. To Mary Magdalene Mark 16:9-10
2. To the other women Matthew 28:9-10
3. To those on the Emmaus Road Mark 16:12-13
4. To Peter Luke 24:34
5. To the Eleven (except Thomas) Luke 24:36-45
6. To the Eleven (Thomas present) John 20:24-31
7. To the Seven at the Sea of Galilee John 21
8. To the Eleven and 500 in Galilee Matthew 28:16-20
1 Corinthians 15:6
9. To James 1 Corinthians 15:7
10. To the Eleven Acts 1:3
11. To Saul of Tarsus Acts 9:3-6
12. To Stephen Acts 7:55
13. To Paul in the Temple Acts 22:17-21; 23:11
14. To John on the Isle of Patmos Revelation 1:10-19
Chapter 6: The Perfect Man
The Gospel According to Luke
Written c. AD 60
Key word: Perfect Man “For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” - Luke 19:10
Why Written: Presenting Christ as Perfect Man
Whereas Mark presents the life of Jesus in snapshots which cascade one after another into our minds, Luke flows like a deep river. Luke is concerned with the humanity of Christ, as well as His deity. Only in Luke do we have the peasant parents at His birth, His growth as a boy, and the human pressure He felt at Gethsemane.
And Luke is presenting Christ to the Greek mind. Remember, although Rome had conquered the Greeks and the world, the Romans and the world were conquered culturally by the Greek mind-set. The Greek philosophies and way of thinking were pervasive throughout the Roman empire. The Greek mind had a craving for perfection and high achievement. They sought to create a perfect man: with knowledge about all things, with flawless physical body, with emotions under control and ruled by reason. The Greek mind-set wanted a rational explanation for all things.
So Luke explains the Jewish culture when necessary for the Greek understanding. And he presents Jesus: a peasant without a formal education, yet with super-human intellect and physical powers. Jesus was not a cross between the two extremes, but a perfect ‘fullness’ of humanity and deity.
The Life of Luke
The third gospel was written by Luke, the only known non-Jewish writer in the Bible. Because his name is mentioned three times in the New Testament, several things are known about him. First, Luke was a close friend of the Apostle Paul (Phil. 1:24; 2 Tim. 4:11). Second, he was a man of culture and education. In Colossians 4:14 he is referred to as “Luke the beloved physician.” Third, Luke was a conscientious historian and author. His faithfulness to known facts have amazed modern archeologists and given external validity to the inspiration of the Bible. Sir William Ramsay spent many years of his life in intensive archaeological research in Asia Minor. It was his testimony that, “Luke’s history is unsurpassed in respect to its trustworthiness” (The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament).
Tradition says that Luke first became a Christian at Antioch, in Syria, where the gospel arrived prior to the great missionary efforts of Peter or Paul, Barnabas or John Mark (note Acts 11:19-21). As a Christian, Luke found a faithful friend in Paul, and traveled with him through part of the apostle’s Second Missionary Journey (Acts 16:10-15). It is probable that Luke did not complete the Second Journey, but remained at Philippi to continue the work of the ministry.
Six years later, when Paul was on his Third Missionary Journey, Luke re-united with him on his way to Jerusalem. It was a dangerous period in Paul’s life, for he had made many Jewish enemies. A plan had been formulated by these enemies to murder Paul. Though an attempt was made on his life, in the providence of the Lord Roman guards came to Paul’s rescue. In the middle of the night he was taken to Caesaria, the Roman capital of Judea, where he was presented to Felix, the governor of the district of Judea. Luke was an eyewitness to all of these events.
Felix ordered that Paul be kept in Herod’s palace with freedom of movement. For two years Paul lived under “house arrest.” While the apostle was in custody, Luke was free to come and go as he pleased, for no charges had been brought against him. The evidence suggests that Luke used this time to collect data, visit with those who had known the Lord Jesus Christ, and fellowship with new believers. There were many devout Christians in Caesaria, including Philip and his four daughters. And there were many Christians elsewhere, such as Mary (the mother of Jesus), who lived with the Apostle John (possibly her nephew) in Jerusalem. From Mary, and also from Elizabeth, Luke would learn the details of their personal conversations, the visit by the angel Gabriel, and of the lovely songs they composed. The songs of these two great ladies of grace have inspired non-canonical musical masterpieces, such as Ave Maria, the Benedictus, the Magnificat, and the Gloria in Excelsis. Perhaps Luke also went to Bethlehem, only five miles south of Jerusalem, and spoke to the innkeeper, and maybe some shepherds. He was determined to speak to eye-witnesses.
Meanwhile, Paul’s enemies in Jerusalem continued to try to kill him, and Felix was replaced as governor by Porcius Festus. Finally, frustrated with his ordeal, the apostle decided to make a personal appeal to Caesar to hear his case. This was his legal right as a Roman citizen. Paul’s appeal to Caesar was granted and he was finally placed on board a boat to cross the Mediterranean. It was a violent voyage (Acts 27,28) but, in the spring of AD 61, Paul arrived in Rome together with Luke. It was decided that the apostle would be kept in the custody of a Roman soldier, but that he could rent his own house and receive his own friends.
The next part of the life of Paul is a little obscure, but it is possible that Paul was tried in Rome, acquitted of the charges against him, and released c. AD 63/64. He returned to his missionary work throughout Greece and Asia Minor only to be re-charged by his enemies in Jerusalem and re-arrested. During this second imprisonment, Luke was Paul’s only companion (2 Tim. 4:11). It is a tragic thought to think of the great apostle as virtually alone at the last (2 Tim. 1:15). He who was a source of blessing to so many others was left by himself to suffer the death of a martyr by beheading.
The end of the life of Luke is not known. There is an ancient legend which says that Luke spent his final years as an evangelist in Bithynia, a province to the north of Asia Minor, where he died at age 74.
Overview of Luke
The Gospel by Luke may be grouped into three sections:
1. Perfect Birth 1 - 4:13 birth, John the Baptist, temptation
2. Perfect Life 4:14 - 19:28 preaching, teaching, miracles
3. Perfect Death 19:29 - 24 the last week
Perfect Birth Chapters 1 - 4:13
Chapter 1:1-4 The preface of the book provided by Luke explains to his friend Theophilus the purpose for his writing. Though many accounts were beginning to circulate concerning the events associated with the life of Christ, Luke was determined to set forth in an orderly manner an accurate account based upon apostolic memories and eye-witness testimoniesand guided by the Holy Spirit.
Chapters 1:5 - 2:52 The birth of Christ is described in great detail, which includes the annunciation to Zacharias, Mary, and Elizabeth, the birth of John the Baptist, the conversations between Mary and Elizabeth, and their splendid songs of praise. Throughout the life of Christ, angels would have a pervasive presence. An angel announced the birth of His forerunner (Luke 1:11-17), and named him (1:13). An angel appeared to Mary to tell of the birth of the Messiah (1:26-37), and also to Joseph (Matt. 1:20-21). A group of angels manifested themselves to the shepherds that the Great Shepherd had been born (Luke 2:8-15), and sang songs to their Sovereign (Luke 2:13-14). An angel warned Joseph to flee to Egypt (Matt. 2:13,20). The years passed and the Lord reached maturity. Still, He would need heavenly under-girdingand so we find that angels ministered to Him at His baptism (John 1:51), following His temptation (Matt. 4:11), and while He prayed in Gethsemane (Luke 22:43). Twelve legions of angels were ready to deliver Him from death if He wanted to summon them (Matt. 26:53). Finally, the angels came to the Lord’s burial site to roll the stone away, and to let the world know that He was alive (Matt. 28:2, 5-7; John 20:11-14).
While the public ministry of Christ is filled with the miraculous, most of His childhood, from age 12 to 30, appears to be very normal. The Father has drawn a curtain of silence across these 18 years.
Chapters 3:1 - 4:13 John the Baptist. The narrative continues with preparation for public ministry via the work of John the Baptist, the baptism of Christ, the Lord’s legal right to the claim of Messiah, and His victory over temptation. Following His triumph over the devil, the Lord would have many things to say about Satan during His ministry. Satan is called “the enemy” (Matt. 13:39), the “evil one” (Matt. 13:38), the “prince of this world” (John 12:31; 4:30), a “liar” (John 8:44), and “a murderer” (John 8:44). Let no one doubt that we face a real and personal enemy in the devil.
Perfect Life Chapters 4:14 - 19:28
Chapters 4:14 - 9:50 The Greater Galilean Ministry. After teaching and healing many people in various parts of Galilee, Jesus returned to His boyhood home, Nazareth. Going into the local synagogue on the Sabbath day, the Lord selected a text from the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 61:1-2a) as part of a public proclamation of His message and ministry:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” - Luke 4:18-19
This is a significant moment in two ways. First, everyone understood this text as a prophecy of the Messiah. Jesus was declaring Himself to be their Messiah when in the next verses He said, “This day is this Scripture fulfilled in your ears!” (Luke 4:21). Second, Jesus here unfolds something that the Jews had failed to understand: the Messiah would come two times, not once. The first coming would be as a Servant (Isa. 61:1-2a). Notice this in Jesus’ careful ending of the reading in the middle of verse 2. Only the words to that point were “fulfilled in your ears” that day in Nazareth. The remainder of verse two says “and the day of vengeance of our God.” This is a reference to the Day of the Lord, the second coming of Christ in judgment upon the earth, still to be fulfilled at a later time.
The Nazarenes had a choice at that moment, as does every human being since then: we must either take Jesus at His word that He is the Messiah, and worship Him, or we must reject Him as a false teacher and blasphemer. (To accept Him as only a ‘good teacher’ is not an option which He offered.) Their disastrous and condemning choice is a matter of the public record in Luke 4:28ff.
When He was rejected by the people of Nazareth, the Lord departed for Capernaum on the Sea of Galilee where he would spend the next two years. His ministry would expand “into every place of the country round about” (Luke 4:37). On occasion the Lord even went to Tyre and Sidon, explaining, “I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also; for therefore am I sent” (Luke 4:43). Luke records the message of the Lord known as the Sermon on the Mount (Luke 6:20-49) with the Golden Rule (Luke 6:31).
As Luke records the preaching and teaching of the Lord, he is careful to provide the particular reason which prompted each message and miracle. Luke is also mindful to share three prayers of Christ on three specific occasions. There is prayer after the cleansing of a leper (5:16), before the calling of the Twelve Apostles (6:12), and at His Transfiguration (9:29).
Chapters 9:51 - 19:27 The Perean Ministry. From Galilee, Jesus ministered on the east side of the Jordan River, in the district of Perea, with special trips into Jerusalem. This period took place about six months before the Passion Week, from the fall of AD 29 to the spring of AD 30. During this time the Lord told many wonderful parables, including the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son, and the Rich Man and Lazarus.
In Luke 16 the Lord spoke about the sufferings of the unrighteous in their place of hell. Technically, “hell” (Gk. hades, Heb. sheol) is the place where all the physically dead went according to Old Testament biblical theology. The righteous dead went to one sphere of this place of the spirit world, referred to as Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:29). They were separated from the wicked dead by a great gulf (Luke 16:26). [Note: The believing thief went to Paradise (Luke 23:43), while Paul spoke of the Third Heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-4) being in the presence of the Lord (study 1 Cor. 15:53; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Cor. 5:2; Phil. 1:23).]
During the months of the Perean Ministry, Jesus sent forth The Seventy. He taught about the two greatest commandments, the definition of a neighbor, instruction in prayer, the prophecy of the coming judgment upon national Israel, teachings on the nature of the kingdom of God, and finally, the predictions of His impending death.
Perfect Death Chapters 19:29 - 24
Chapters 19:29 - 23 The Last Week. Luke faithfully records the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, the final teachings of Christ in the Temple, the Last Supper, the discourse to the disciples on the Mount of Olives, His betrayal, arrest, six trials, violent crucifixion, and burial.
Chapter 24 The Resurrection and the Ascension. Three appearances of Christ are made to His disciples. On the road to Emmaus, two disciples hear the Lord’s personal interpretation of the Scriptures beginning with Moses and the prophets. (The same personal instruction is available to us, as we read His Word illumined by the Holy Spirit - our hearts should burn within us!) His last instructions are given to those who will be witnesses for Him unto the ends of the earth.
A Traditional Diary of the Last Week Palm Sunday
Jesus rode into Jerusalem Mark 11:1-11
Spent the night at Bethany
Cleansing of the Temple Mark 11:15-19
Spent the night at Bethany
Teaching in the Temple Luke 20-21
The challenge to authority Luke 20:1-8
Parable of the Husbandman Luke 20:9-18
The question of paying tribute Luke 20:19-26
The question of resurrection Luke 20:27-41
The question of David’s son Luke 20:40-44
Warning against the scribes Luke 20:45-47
The widow’s mite Luke 21:1-4
The coming judgment on Israel Luke 21:5-28
The parables of: the Fig Tree, Luke 21:29-36
The Talents, The Foolish Virgins
Mary anoints Jesus at Bethany John 12:2-8
Spent the night at Bethany
The Great Conspiracy Matt 26:1-16
Spent the night at Bethany Luke 22:1-6
The Last Supper Matt 25:17-20
The protest of Peter Luke 22:7-30
The washing of the disciples’ feet Matt 26:36-56
The prayer in Gethsemane John 17
The Betrayal and Arrest Mark 14:43-50
Jesus before Annas John 18:12-24
Jesus before Caiaphas Mark 14:53-65
Peter’s Tragic Denial Matt 26:69-75
Jesus before Sanhedrin Luke 22:66-71
Judas commits suicide Matt 27: 3-10
Jesus before Pilate Mark 14:66-72
Jesus before Herod Antipas Luke 23:6-12
Sentenced by Pilate Luke 23:13-25
The Crucifixion Matt 27:1-61
1. Arrival at Golgotha Mark 15:22
2. Offered gall Matt 27:34
3. The impaling Matt 27:35
4. The first cry Luke 23:34
“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”
5. Gambling for garments Matt 27:35
6. Jesus ridiculed Mark 15:29
7. Salvation of a thief Matt 27:44
8. The second cry Luke 23:43
“Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise”
9. The third cry John 19:26-27
“Woman, behold thy Son! Behold thy mother!”
10. The fourth cry Mark 15:34-36, Matt. 27:46
“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”
11. The fifth cry John 19:28
12. The sixth cry John 19:30
“It is finished”
13. The seventh cry Luke 23:46
“Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit”
14. Jesus dismisses His spirit Mark 15:37
The burial of Jesus Luke 23:1-56
And on the Third Day, He rose again!
Study Questions: Lesson 3
5. Mark: Presenting the Servant of All
First please read chapter 5 in the text.
1. Briefly and in your own words, what was John Mark’s purpose in writing the Gospel According to Mark?
2. Realizing that the Romans respected power, what did Mark write about that would have impressed them?
A Young Man of Privilege and Destiny
3. Summarize in one paragraph the life of John Mark.
Unity, Division, and Reconciliation
4. a. Why did Paul become upset with John Mark?
b. What was the ultimate outcome of their relationship?
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
5. a. Is there evidence that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is factually true? Which of these 25 historical facts do you believe is the best proof? Why?
b. What is your overall personal response after reading this account of the resurrection?
6. 28 of the 35 miracles performed by Jesus are recorded in the Gospel According to Mark (see Appendix One, page 178). Which one of these impresses you the most? Why?
6. Luke: Presenting the Perfect Man
First please read chapter 6 in the text.
7. To whom was Luke writing, and why?
The Life of Luke
8. List three things that are known about Luke.
9. What was Paul’s legal right as a citizen of Rome?
Perfect Birth - Ch. 1 - 4:13
10. List five occasions when angels ministered to Christ.
11. On three major occasions Jesus prayed (Luke 5:16; 6:12; 9:29). What does His example teach us about the importance of prayer?
MAKING IT PERSONAL
12. Write out your prayer schedule. If you do not have one, would you consider initiating a definite time to be alone with God?