Mark has structured his book around the two titles ‘Messiah’ and ‘Son of God’. These titles were used in the Old Testament to speak about a King who would one day come. Mark tells us up front that Jesus is that King (1v1). And then he wants to prove that to us...
The opening five chapters of Mark can be divided into five sections:
Mark 1v1-15: Arrival
The arrival of the King is announced by the promised Old Testament ‘messenger’ and by the Father’s voice from heaven and by Jesus himself. ‘The time has come,’ Jesus said, ‘The kingdom of God has come near.’ Mark wants us to know that the King has arrived! But can Jesus prove that he is the King? That objection is answered in the next section.
Mark 1v16-2v17: Authority
At the beginning and end of this section Jesus calls people to follow him. If you're concerned about becoming a Christian have a look at the catalogue of evidence included here that Jesus is a King with absolute authority. In fact, he is God himself and in his kingdom there will be no Satan, no sickness and no sin. It is worth leaving everything to follow Jesus!
Mark 2v1-3v35: Anger
This overlaps with the previous section. The Pharisees become more and more angry with Jesus until in chapter 3v6 they begin to plot how they might kill him. But Mark warns us that if we reject Jesus, Jesus will reject us. If we will not have Jesus as our King he will not have us in his kingdom (3v7-35). Mark’s purpose here is to ask us: Are you in or are you out? Will you repent and believe or not?
Mark 4v1-34: Attention!
Again and again Jesus tells his disciples to pay attention here (4v3, 9, 23, 24). If they are concerned that people are rejecting him and his kingdom, Jesus tells them not to be. When the seed (the word) is sown it will be rejected – it will be snatched, scorched and strangled. But it will also be received – there is good soil. And the kingdom of God will slowly but surely grow. It is hidden now, but one day there will be a harvest. We can be encouraged to keep sowing the seed!
Mark 4v35-5v43: Awesome!
Jesus demonstrates his awesome power to save. Mark emphasises how desperate each one of the situations is in this section is e.g. the squall was furious (4v37), no one was strong enough to subdue the man with an impure spirit (5v4) and the daughter of Jairus was dead (5v35)! If we are concerned that Jesus might now have the power to save you, he says to us here, ‘Don’t be afraid, just believe.’
In these chapters Mark is primarily concerned about proving the identity of Jesus. And he wants all of us to hear and obey the command to ‘repent and believe the good news’ (1v15).