The Gospel of Mark is the second book in the New Testament. Many scholars once thought the book was a summary of the Gospel of Matthew, but now most think it may have been the earliest of the four Gospel accounts. Traditionally, the authorship of this gospel is attributed to John Mark, who traveled and ministered with Barnabas and Paul.
Imagine what it must have been like to be one of Jesus’ disciples. Many of us today would be filled with awe at getting to walk and talk with our Savior in person, but the disciples did not know at first who this remarkable person was. To them, Jesus seemed at first like an ordinary man with an extraordinary ability to speak the words of God, words the disciples often struggled to understand fully. Yet they chose to follow Him at great personal cost and sacrifice.
We know that the disciples did the ordinary activities of daily life as they followed Christ. They sailed boats, ate meals, and walked on hot, dusty roads. His disciples were ordinary people. They were not notable leaders in their community. They were regular working men—fishermen and tax collectors. They had calloused hands and human tempers. They were an unlikely group to be chosen as disciples.
Jesus gave these ordinary men a simple command: “Follow me” (Mark 1:14–18; 2:14). Jesus asked them to give up everything—their homes, routines, careers, and even their relationships. They were to set it all aside in order to focus on one goal: becoming His disciples.
The Greek word for disciple (mathetes) could be literally translated as “learner.” A disciple is someone who follows a teacher (Mark 8:34). In that broad sense, Jesus has many “disciples,” including you and me. Jesus identified several qualities of a true disciple.
First, true disciples of Jesus listened carefully to His teaching: “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples” (John 8:13). Second, His disciples observed and imitated His actions (see John 8:1; 15:8). Finally, His disciples were required to obey His commands: “Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, yet do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).
This month, throughout our study of the Gospel of Mark, we will look at what it means to be a disciple of the Messiah, Jesus: the glory, the cost, the suffering, and the victory. As we study the life of Christ this month and consider the role of His disciples, may we be encouraged by His great love, mercy, and forgiveness when we struggle and have doubts, and may we be inspired to follow Him more diligently— to listen, to observe, and to obey.