Gospel of Mark
I. Introduction and Dating
Mark the Evangelist
Most casual readers merely gloss over the gospel of Mark. They conclude the author merely threaded a series of quick narratives and sayings together with the word "immediately." Yet, they miss the genius of the evangelist who wove together a rich work using many different literary devices to create a work that challenged a believer's quality of faith.
I dated Mark's Gospel the early 70's CE (see Dating the Synoptics).
Mark constructed his Gospel in a chiastic or stair-step fashion:
A. Step A1: Introduction (1:1-15)
B. Step B1: Galilean Ministry (1:16-8:21)
C. Step C: Journey to Jerusalem (8:22-10:52)
D. Step B2: Jerusalem Ministry (11:1-13:37)
E. Step A2a: Passion Narrative (14:1-15:47)
F. Step A2b: Conclusion (16:1-8)
He structured his gospel with the Passion Narrative (14:1-15:47) in mind, leading up to that section with:
1. A title and an introduction of the Christ through the Baptist (1:1-15).
2. A gathering of disciples in Galilee with his teaching and power (1:16-8:21)
3. The revelation of who he was as the Christ on his way to Jerusalem (8:22-10:52)
4. The assertion of his authority both in the Temple and in eschatological prophecy (11:1-13:37)
Along the way, Jesus encountered misunderstanding with his own followers and opposition from his opponents. Misunderstanding led the disciples to abandon him. Opposition led to his execution. He faced his demise alone. Mark presented the empty tomb (16:1-8) as a challenge to disciples. Would they believe in the Risen Christ and face the same opposition Jesus did? Or would they run and hide? Those questions hinged on the revelation of the Messiah as the Suffering Servant (Step C).
To frame his challenge to Christians, Mark employed several literary devices. After a brief introduction of Jesus sans the Baptist (1:1-15), he defined the ministry of the Nazarene in a series of "firsts" (1:16-45) Then, he laid out the narrative in several chiastic (or stair-step) structures that focused upon his teaching (fasting in 2:1-3:6, parables in 3:7-6:6a and halakhic matters in 6:6b-8:21).
Next, after Peter's declaration of faith ("You are the Christ" in 8:27-30), the author shifted to parallels of prophecy and teaching. The three times Jesus predicted his Passion and death (8:31, 9:31-32, 10:34), followed by instructions that applied his suffering to that of his followers (8:32-9:1, 9:33-50, 10:35-45). In between the three prophecies/teachings, Mark injected two transitions: one on the revelation of power (9:2-29) and the other on his teaching (10:1-31). He began and ended this section with the healing of the blind (blind man at Bethsaida in 8:22-26 and Bartimeaus in 10:46-52).
Mark built up the tension with Jesus' ministry in Jerusalem which he framed the Jesus' activity there as a condemnation of the religious leadership. Jesus entered the city in triumph and cleansed the Temple; this caused conflict with the Temple elite (11:1-33). He bookended further controversies (12:13-40) with a contrast between the rich leaders (Parable of the Tenants in 12:1-12) and the poor widow (12:41-44).
The evangelist ended the Jerusalem ministry with the eschatological discourse, capped by a double introduction (prophecy and reaction in 13:1-4) and double conclusion (warning and preparation in 13:32-37). He divided the discourse into two parts. First, he listed three warnings for the disciples ("keep watch"), interspersed with signs concerning the cosmos, civil wars, family opposition, and the pollution of the Temple itself (13:5-23). Second, he foresaw the Second Coming in power (13:24-31). The curse (11:12-14, 11:20-25) and lesson (13:28-29) of the fig tree symbolized Jesus' condemnation of the Temple leadership and, by extension, the city in which the cultic center dwelt.
Mark shifted to the familiar Passion narrative of the Last Supper (14:1-31), the garden scene (14:32-52), the two trials (before the high priest in 14:53-72 and Pilate in 15:1-15) and, finally the Crucifixion (15:16-32). Notice the tight, linear structure that stood apart from the chiastic structures, parallels, foreshadowing and abrupt changes between narrative and teaching the author employed in the rest of his gospel. Because of this discrepancy, many scholars contend the Passion originally stood apart and even predated the writing of the gospel.
Finally, the evangelist closed his work with a short scene of the empty tomb and kerygma about the resurrection, followed by the command to the women who fled in fear (16:1-8).
This overview reveals the intricate literary tapestry Mark created to proclaim "the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
III. Synopsis and Commentary
A. Step A1: Introduction to the Gospel of Jesus Christ (1:1-15)
1. 1:1-6 Title and John the Baptist
2. 1:7-11 Baptism of Jesus
3. 1:12-15 The Temptation and Preaching Ministry of Jesus
In fifteen verses, Mark introduced his gospel, ushered in John the Baptist, then recorded the Baptism, Temptation and first message of Jesus. The opening title paralleled the last verses of the gospel. As Mark wrote in Mk 1:1: "(The) beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, [Son of God]." In Mk 16:6-7, the young man at the tomb explained who the Messiah really was, the Risen Christ. Then, he ordered them to tell Peter and the others where they would see Jesus. Mark ended the gospel with an open question: would followers have the courage to spread the faith?
The evangelist referred to the Baptist whose presence loomed large on the Palestinian landscape in the early part of the first century CE. In his Antiquities 18.5.2 116-119, Josephus described John as a preacher who urged repentance, but in the context of his arrest and execution by Herod Antipas. Quoting Isa 40:3, Mark described the Baptist as a forerunner to the Christ.
In Mk 1:9-15, Mark laid out the baptism of Jesus when the Spirit entered him, then drove him into the desert for the Temptation. Through the guidance of Spirit, Jesus continued John's message of repentance.
B. Step B1: Galilean Ministry (1:16-8:21)
1. 1:16-45 Beginnings of Jesus' Ministry
a. 1:16-20 First Vocation: Jesus calls Simon and Andrew, James and John.
b. 1:21-28 First Exorcism: Jesus exorcises demon in the Capernaum synagogue.
c. 1:29-31 First Healing: Jesus heals Simon's mother-in-law.
1) 1:32-34 First Healing Summary: Jesus heals others in Capernaum.
d. 1:35 First Prayer: Jesus prays alone in wilderness.
e. 1:36-39 First Journey: Jesus travels beyond Capernaum.
f. 1:40-45 First Restoration: Jesus heals a leper and restores to him the community.
In Mk 1:16-45, the author fleshed out the ministry of Jesus in a series of firsts. The Lord called the first disciples to follow him. He first taught in the synagogues and revealed his power through exorcisms and heatings; his ministry was one of restoration. He prayed alone for the first time in the text, then moved beyond his home base of Capernaum for his first journey. These aspects of his ministry would arise again and again in the balance of Mark's gospel.
The first exorcism (Mk 1:21-28) presented the famous "Messianic secret" where Jesus silenced demonic forces from revealing Jesus as the "Holy One of God" (Mk 1:24; also see Mk 8:29-30). While most modern scholars have rejected the formal theory by William Wrede at the beginning of the twentieth century, they do agree that the constraint of the demons represented Jesus opposition to evil.
2. 2:1-3:6 Conflict Cycles
After his series of "firsts," Mark recorded a cycle of conflicts. In his typical fashion, he molded them into a chiastic form. But, within each, he presented a theme, someone who objected, a controversy and a reason for the conflict.
Healing the Paralytic
Argue among themselves
Jesus' Saying: "the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" (2:10).
Calling Levi, Tax Collector
Scribes of Pharisees Object
Against Jesus' disciples
Eating with tax collectors and sinners
Jesus' Sayings: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick" (2:17a); "I have come to call not the righteous but sinners" (2:17b).
Disciples not fasting
Jesus' Sayings: "The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them." (Mk 2:19-20); "No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak." (Mk 2:21-22).
Plucking Grain on the Sabbath
Breaking the Sabbath
Jesus' Sayings: "The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath" (Mk 2:27); "so the Son of Man is lord even of the sabbath" (Mk 2:28).
Restoring a Withered Hand
Against "them" (Herodians and Pharisees)
Healing on the Sabbath
Jesus' Question: "Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the sabbath, to save life or to kill?" (Mk 3:4).
The conflict cycle works on different levels, depending upon our focus. If we look at the content of the five narratives, we can see a quasi-chiastic (or stair-step) structure:
Step A1. Healing of the Paralytic.
Step B1. Calling a Sinner, Levi the Tax Collector.
Step C. Piety: Question about Fasting.
Step B2. Sin of the Disciples: Breaking the Sabbath.
Step A2. Healing the Withered Hand.
Notice steps one and five address healing power, steps two and four focus on sin. These parallels build up to the question of Christian piety which revolved around the presence of the Christ.
However, if we viewed the moral Jesus put on these conflicts, we see he asserted his authority to forgive sin (thus to accept the sinner and even define sin) and his power to interpret the Law (his authority over the Sabbath). In other words, he stated his presence trumped both the authority of the Pharisees and the limitations their interpretations place upon the Law. Thus, the religious leaders plotted his death (Mk 3:6).
3. 3:7-6:6a Jesus' Early Ministry.
a. Step A1: 3:7-35 Jesus interacted with outsiders (crowds, opponents) and insiders (disciples, family)
1) 3:7-12 Crowds come to Jesus for healing.
2) 3:13-19 Jesus chooses the Twelve.
3) 3:20-30 Scribes challenge Jesus in the "Beelzebul" controversy.
4) 3:31-35 Jesus described disciples as his "true" family.
b. Step B: 4:1-34 Jesus taught in parables.
1) 4:1-2 Mk introduced the notion of the parable.
2) 4:3-8 The Parable of the Sower and the Seed.
i. 4:10-12 Reason for using parables.
ii. 4:13-20 Explanation of Sower and Seed parable.
3) 4:21-25 Short parables and sayings.
4) 4:26-34 Two parables about the Kingdom of God.
i. 4:26-29 The Seed.
ii. 4:30-32 Mustard Seed.
iii. 4:33-34 Use of parables summarized.
c. Step A2: 4:35-6:6a Jesus' Power in Word and Mighty Deed
1) 4:35-41 Jesus calms the storm.
2) 5:1-20 Jesus heals Gerasene demonic.
3) 5:21-43 Jesus heals bleeding woman and raises Jarius' daughter.
4) 6:1-6a Jesus is rejected in Nazareth.
The activities of Jesus acted as bookends to his teaching in parables. As a chiastic structure, step A1 (growing ministry and controversy in 3:4-35) and step A2 (healings and rejection at Nazareth in 4:35-6:6a) highlighted Jesus' enigmatic stories (4:1-34).
The bulk of chapter three reached back and looked forward. As the reputation of Jesus grew, people sought him out for healing, echoing Mk 1:32-34. So, he called his Apostles together to expand his mobile ministry through them (Mk 6:6-13). The religious leaders tried to dishonor him, crediting his power to the devil (see Mk 3:6). He summarized his movement as his family, those "who do the will of God."
Sections on his Word and Power followed. Jesus explained his use of enigmatic parables with a reference to Isa 6:9-10 (Mk 4:10-12); some would understand, others would not. He continued with agricultural images to explain evangelization (Mk 4:3-8, Mk 4:13-20) and the slow appearance of the Kingdom (Mk 4:26-32). He also employed images of daily living (lighting lamps in Mk 4:21-23 and receiving grain ration in Mk 4:24-25) to stress openness to his message.
Through of his word, Jesus revealed God's power over nature (calming the storm in Mk 4:35-41), unclean evil (exorcism of the Gerasene demonic in Mk 5:1-20) and death (healing the bleeding woman and the raising of Jarius daughter in Mk 5:21-43). Yet, those who knew him most intimately in Nazareth rejected him when he tried to teach there (Mk 6:1-6).
4. 6:6b-8:21 Jesus' Ministry Expands (Chiamus).
a. Step A1: 6:6b-13 Jesus sends out the Twelve.
1) Step B1: 6:14-29 Death of the Baptist.
i. Step C1: 6:30-44 Jesus feeds 5000
a) Step D1: 6:45-52 Jesus walks on water, calms fears of disciples.
Step E1: 6:53-56 Jesus heals around Gennesaret.
Step F: 7:1-23 Controversy with Pharisees over purity laws.
Step E2: 7:24-30 Jesus exorcizes daughter of Syrophoenician woman.
b) Step D2: 7:31-37 Jesus heals deaf-mute in Decapolis.
ii. Step C2: 8:1-10 Jesus feeds 4000.
2) Step B2: 8:11-13 Pharisees ask for sign.
b. Step A2: 8:14-21 Disciples don't understand yeast and bread of Pharisees.
This next section began and ended with the disciples, highlighted by two mass feedings. In Mk 6:6-13, they were sent out by Jesus to expand his mobile ministry, evangelizing and healing. But, in Mk 8:14-21, they didn't understand the import of their work because they still fell sway to the influence of the Pharisees. Indeed, they didn't fathom the challenge of the religious leaders who asked for a sign from Jesus (Mk 8:11-13). Their lack of awareness would remain a motif of Mark's gospel.
Report of the Baptist's death (Mk 6:14-29) acted as a transition to the a cycle of healings. Herod's questions about Jesus (Mk 6:14-16) foreshadowed the question of identity ("Who do you say I am?") Jesus would ask in Mk 8:27-30.
The two multiplication miracles (Mk 6:30-44, Mk 8:1-10) bookended the healing cycle. Notice Jesus performed his mighty deeds in Gentile territory. He walked on water (Mk 6:45-52) as he made his way to the Gennesaret, on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. When he arrived, he cured all those who can to him (Mk 6:53-56). Next, he moved northwest of the Sea to southern Syria and exorcised the daughter of a pagan woman. Finally, he returned to the southeastern shore in an area known as the Decapolis to heal a deaf-mute. While he multiplied the loaves and fish for the 5000 in Galilee itself, he multiplied the food for the 4000 in Gentile territory.
At the peak of his Gentile ministry, the Pharisees from Jerusalem appeared to question Jesus over questions of ritual purity (Mk 7:1-6). This was really a struggle over the authority of interpretation. Who had the ultimate power to explain God's Law? The hinge point lie in the matter of "korban," setting aside property or money for the worship of God, thus exempting it from the support of parents. Jesus railed against his opponents who placed ritual worship over the obligations imposed by the Fourth Commandment (Mk 7:6-13). He followed with his principle of interpretation: intent over blind adherence (Mk 7:14-23).
Mark placed this section in the midst of the miracles to make a point about basis of authority. The expertise of the Pharisees lie in their learning. Jesus revealed his authority through his power, even before the Gentiles. To challenge that authority, the religious leaders demanded a sign of power (mentioned above). But, discipleship doesn't place demands; it accepts. So, he gave no sign.
C. Step C: Journey to Jerusalem (8:22-10:52)
1. 8:22-26 Jesus heals a blind man at Bethsaida.
2. 8:27-30 Peter's confession "You are the Christ: at Caesarea Philippi
3. 8:31-9:1 First Passion prediction.
a. 8:31 First Passion prediction.
b. 8:32-33 Peter rebukes Jesus who responds, "Get behind me Satan."
c. 8:34-9:1 Cost of being a disciple.
4. 9:2-29 Transition
a. 9:2-10 The Transfiguration.
b. 9:11-12 Coming of Elijah (the Baptist implied).
c. 9:14-29 Healing of demonic boy.
5. 9:31-50 Second Passion prediction.
a. 9:31-32 Second Passion prediction.
b. 9:33-34 Argument over who was the greatest.
c. 9:35-37 Jesus teaches the child model of discipleship.
d. 9:38-41 Jesus allows outsiders to exorcise in his name.
e. 9:42-50 Warning against scandal.
6. 10:1-31 Transition
a. 10:1-12 Jesus' teaching against divorce.
b. 10:13-16 Jesus welcomes the children.
c. 10:17-22 The rich man asks about salvation.
d. 10:23-31 Disciples dismay at difficulty to be saved.
7. 10:34-45 Third Passion prediction.
a. 10:34 Third Passion prediction.
b. 10:35-40 James and John ask for seats of glory in the Kingdom.
c. 10:41-45 Jesus teaches the servant model of leadership.
8. 10:46-52 Jesus heals Bartimeaus at Jericho.
Two healing stories bookended Jesus' journey to Jerusalem; in combination with his remarks about leaven of the Pharisees (Mk 8:14-21), the narrative addressed the lack of understanding ("blindness") on the part of the disciples. In other words, the thick heads of the disciples was the underlining theme of the journey.
After the sight healing at Bethsaida (Mk 8:22-26), Peter proclaimed Jesus as "the Christ" (Mk 8:27-30). But what did that title mean? More than what it meant to Jesus himself, what did it mean to the individual disciple, both in cost and in lifestyle? What did that mean to the community as a whole?
First, Jesus addressed the cost of discipleship. After his Passion prediction and rebuke of Peter's objection (Mk 8:31-33), he stated his suffering and death stood as examples to his followers (Mk 8:34-9:1). As he did, they were to do.
Second, Jesus spoke to the lifestyle of the disciple. After his second Passion prediction and the argument over greatness (Mk 9:31-34), he urged his followers to be childlike, allowing outsiders to speak in the name of the Lord and living righteous lives that did not give scandal nor seek to be scandalized (Mk 9:35-50). Such a lifestyle helped promote evangelization by example.
Third, Jesus addressed the community as a whole through its leadership. After the his third Passion prediction and the controversy over who was to lead (Mk 10:35-40), he addressed the subject of how to lead: through service (Mk 10:41-45). Like the childlike lifestyle of the disciple, the servant model of leadership affected the tone and direction of the community. Leadership style evangelized.
Notice each of the prediction narratives possessed the same structure: prediction of suffering, controversy and, finally teaching. In each case, Jesus applied the prophecy to the question of discipleship.
The transitions between the predictions addressed revelation. The narrative between the first and second contained the Transfiguration (Mk 9:2-10), teaching on the appearance of Elijah (Mk 9:11-12) and the healing of the demonic boy, a mighty deed that required prayer (Mk 9:14-29). First, Jesus revealed his glory in the midst of Hebrew Scripture, the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah) and before the divine presence. Next, the Elijah figure (the Baptist) who was prophesied to appear before the coming of the Messiah did arrive. Finally, the power of God flowed through him as it would through the disciples, only if they remained close in prayer.
The verses between the second and third narratives contained Jesus' teaching on family (marriage and children) as well as his observations on salvation. He discouraged divorce (Mk 10:1-12). He raised the place of children in society through his welcome (Mk 10:13-16). And he taught the disciple must depend upon God for salvation in the story of the rich man (Mk 10:17-31).
So, through both transitions, Jesus revealed himself through his presence, his relationship to Scripture, the one who prepared his way, his power over evil and his teaching. Yet, even after repeated demonstrations, the disciples still didn't "get it." They were blind.
D. Step B2: Jerusalem Ministry (11:1-13:37)
1. 11:1-26 Entry into Jerusalem and Cleansing of the Temple
a. 11:1-10 Entry into Jerusalem.
1) 11:11 Jesus briefly entered Temple, then went to Bethany.
b. 11:12-14 The next morning, Jesus cursed the fig tree.
1) 11:15-19 Cleansing of the Temple.
c. 11:20-25 The next morning, the disciples see withered fig tree.
2. 11-27-12:44 Further Controversies.
a. 11:27-33 In the Temple, religious leaders challenge Jesus' authority.
b. 12:1-12 Parable of the Wicked Tenant.
c. 12:13-17 Pharisees and Herodians question Jesus about paying taxes.
d. 12:18-27 Sadduccees question Jesus about the resurrection of the dead.
e.12:28-34 Scribe asks about the Great Commandment.
f. 12:35-40 About the "Son of David."
g. 12:41-44 The Poor Widow's offering.
3. 13:1-37 The Eschatological Discourse.
a. 13:1-4 Double introduction.
1) 13:1-2 Jesus predicts Temple destruction.
2) 13:3-4 Disciples ask about end times.
b. 13:5-23 Jesus' warnings about trials and tribulations.
1) 13:5-6 Keep watch not to be led astray.
2) 13:7-8 Natural and political events will occur.
3) 13:9-11 Keep watch, disciples will be put on trial.
4) 13:12-13 Disciples will be hated even by family, those who survive will be saved.
5) 13:14-18 Aside, believers must flee at sign of "desolating abomination."
6) 13:13:19-20 Greater tribulations, but days shortened for the elect.
7) 13:21-23 Keep watch for false Messiahs.
c. 13:24-31 Coming of the Son of Man.
1) 13:24-25 Signs in heaven.
2) 13:26-27 Son of Man coming in power to gather the elect.
3) 13:28-29 Lesson of the fig tree to know the immanence of the Son of Man.
4) 13:30-31 Generation will experience Second Coming.
d. 13:32-37 Double conclusion.
1) 13:32-33 Generation will not pass away, but no one knows "day nor hour."
2) 13:34-37 Keep watch, Parable of the Door Keeper.
In Mark's gospel, Jesus' time in Jerusalem revolved about the Temple, either in the holy site or on the Mount of Olives in sight of the Temple. When he entered the city, he processed as the humble king on donkey (Mk 11:1-10), echoing Zechariah 9:9,
Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you! He is righteous, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (World English Bible)
After the ceremony, Jesus headed to the Temple, the seat of power in Judaism. From end of the Babylonian Exile (539 BCE), the high priest wielded political, social and religious authority in Judea, even in the Diaspora. Even when the Hasmoneans gained freedom from the Greek-Syrians in 160 BCE, they ruled though the high priest; only one of their number dared to crown himself king (Judah Aristobulus I, ruled 104-103 BCE).
With the Cleansing of the Temple (Mk 11:15-19), Jesus asserted his authority. He invoked Isa 56:7 and Jer 7:11 to justify his actions, upsetting commerce just outside the Temple gates. However, he did not cause as much scandal as many modern readers assume. Many accused the priesthood of economic and political corruption. The leaders did not move against Jesus at that moment because they feared the power of the mob.
Note, the curse of the fig tree bookended the cleansing. In Hebrew Scripture, the fig tree represented fullness in the Promised Land (Deu 8:8-10) and prosperity (1 Kings 4:25). When Jesus cursed the fig tree (Mk 11:12-15) he symbolically stripped the Temple (his next stop) of its fullness. When his disciples remarked on the withered tree, he pointed to the power of faith (Mk 11:20-25), which implicitly trumped any piety associated with the Temple.
In the next sections, Jesus would challenge (and be challenged by) the leaders. In Mk 11:27-33, he deflected their objections to his actions by connecting his ministry to that of the Baptist. In Mk 12:1-12, he went on the attack with the parable of the Tenants, a highly symbolic story that tied the leadership (the tenants) to acts of murder against the prophets (the rich man's messengers) and, eventually, against the Son of God. The leaders struck back with the question of taxes (Mk 12:13-17) and the belief in the resurrection itself (Mk 12:18-27). In the midst of the controversies, one scribe saw the wisdom of Jesus in the question of the Great Commandment (Mk 12:28-34); some in the leadership were open to the Good News. Then, Jesus turned his attention to the faithful in the Temple, teaching them the true identity of the Messiah (Mk 12:35-37) and warning them about the duplicity of the leaders (Mk 13:38-40).
Jesus ended his time in the Temple with his comments on true piety, the mere offering of the Poor Widow (Mk 12:41-44). Through her offering, she placed all she had into the hands of God.
From this point, the scene shifted to the Eschatological Discourse on the Mount of Olives (across the Kidron Valley in sight of the Temple). Click here to read the translation and commentary on Mark chapter thirteen.
E. Step A2a: Passion Narrative (14:1-15:47)
1. 14:1-11 Preparing for Passover.
a. 14:1-2 Plot against Jesus.
b. 14:3-9 Anointing at Bethany
c. 14:10-11 Judas agrees to betray Jesus.
2. 14:12-25 Last Supper.
a. 14:12-16 Jesus sends two disciples to prepare Passover.
b. 14:17-21 Jesus predicts betrayal.
c. 14:22-25 Last Supper.
3. 14:26-52 Gethesmane.
a. 14:26-31 At Mount of Olives, Jesus predicted Peter's denial.
b. 14:32-42 Jesus' prayer.
c. 14:43-50 Jesus is arrested.
d. 14:51-52 Naked man runs away.
4. 14:53-72 High Priest's interrogation, Peter's denials.
a. 14:53 Jesus led to high priest's home.
b. 14:54 Peter enters courtyard.
c. 14:55-65 High priest interrogates and condemns Jesus.
d. 14:66-72 Peter's denials.
5. 15:1-15 Before Pilate
a. 15:1 Sanhedrin condemns Jesus
b. 15:2-5 Pilate questions Jesus.
c. 15:6-14 Pilate's dialogue mob.
d. 15:15 Barabbas is released.
6. 15:16-23 The Way to Calvary
a. 15:16-20a Soldiers mocked Jesus
b. 15:20b-22 On the way, Simon the Cyrene carries cross.
c. 15:23 Jesus refuses to drink drugged wine.
7. 15:24-32 Crucifixion
a. 15:24-25 Jesus is crucified, soldiers gamble for clothes.
b. 15:26 Inscription "king of the Jews."
c. 15:27 Two criminals crucified with Jesus.
d. 15:29-32 By-passers, religious leaders and criminals mock Jesus.
8. 15:33-37 Death of Jesus.
a. 15:33 Time frame of death.
b. 15:34 Jesus cried "My God, my God..."
c. 15:35-36 Call for Elijah, offering of vinegar.
d. 15:37 Jesus dies.
9. 15:38-41 Three types of witnesses.
a. 15:38 Temple curtain torn.
b. 15:39 Centurion's confession of faith.
c. 15:40-41 Women witnesses.
10. 15:42-47 Burial of Jesus.
a. 15:42-45 Joseph of Arimathea asks for Jesus' body.
b. 15:46-47 Jesus is buried.
I covered Mark's Passion Narrative in greater detail here. Overall, the Passion represented the Passover of the Messiah, a shift from remembrance of the liberation from slavery to a realization of the eschaton in the person of the Christ. In other words, the Passion ritualized (in the Last Supper) and actualized (in the Crucifixion) the Tribulation that early Christians believed they witnessed in real time.
F. Step A2b: Conclusion (16:1-8)
1. 16:1-4 Mary Magdalene and two others visit tomb.
2. 16:5-7 Women encounter young witness in white.
3. 16:8 Fear-filled women flee.
The segments above are addressed in Passion and Resurrection reconstruction. Note that alternate endings that scholars believe ancient scribes added to the gospel (Mk 16:9-20 and the Freer Logion in 16:14-15) were not found in such early manuscripts as Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus; in addition, the language and syntax of the additions did not cohere with the rest of the gospel. Hence, most scholars believe the evangelist ended his gospel with verse 16:8.
Mark actually created two narratives: 2) a tightly woven tapestry of stories and sayings about the early ministry of the Christ and 2) the linear Passion (which many scholars insist predated the gospel's publication). He integrated these two in order to challenge his audience to serious consider their commitment to the Nazarene. Did disciples really understand who Jesus was? And, if they did, would they give up everything, including their lives, to follow him? These questions, as well as the need for a new source for faith witness, drove the author to put pen to paper.
Bratcher, Robert G. A Translators Guide to the Gospel of Mark. United Bible Societies, 1981.
Felix, Just. "ENTER: Electronic New Testament Educational Resources." Catholic Resources - Felix Just, S.J. Web.
Mark the Evangelist. Meister des Evangeliars von Echternach [Public domain]