Jesus, Martyr Mom or Servant King? Studying Mark 1

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash


I hate it when I get an attack of it–the Martyr Mom Syndrome. I’m going along, doing this and that around the house, not looking for any thanks or even acknowledgement. I’m a mom. I don’t expect my life to be glamorous. And then suddenly it happens. The socks lying in the middle of the living room shout, “Pick me up! Slave!!” I suddenly feel taken for granted by everyone including the dog. That’s when I erupt, “Would somebody get in here and pick up these SOCKS!!!”

It’s not the socks. It’s the principle of the thing.

Make Way for the Martyr Mom?

I sometimes fantasize about receiving the awards I so richly deserve for my selfless service. In my Walter Mitty moments, I am walking down the grocery store aisle, cross-eyed from reading labels and calculating cost per serving, when the loud speaker suddenly announces my name and calls me up to the cash register to receive my grand prize as winner of this year’s coupon clipping contest!

Modestly I walk up to receive my prize, while inwardly exulting Yes! My sacrifice has finally received its due reward!!

One reason I’m excited about studying Mark’s Gospel is that Jesus didn’t suffer from the “martyr mom” complex, even though he deserved to. His coming was the stuff of media buildup. Prophets, promises, a long silence and then his dramatic appearance. “Prepare the way of the Lord!” The crowds should have parted, fallen silent, and dropped to their knees. He deserved it.

That’s because from the earliest days of his public ministry he surprised them. He didn’t act like they expected. Furthermore, the crowds didn’t respond like they should have. If I were he, I would have fallen on the ground and thrown a tantrum. It’s this contrast between his response and mine that makes me eager to learn from him.

I want to watch him enter his public ministry with a blast of authority and then I want to see him get busy…serving. I’m curious about the dynamics of his decisions to stop doing one thing and start doing another. I’m hoping to feel the demands that would have pushed my martyr mom buttons and then see him react differently.

I want to see my Savior, the Servant King, in action.

Mark’s Editorial Choices.

I won’t have long to wait. The first chapter of Mark blasts through nine different scenes, bringing us right into the middle of Jesus’s public ministry. This gospel is different from the other three. Kent Hughes comments:

 Mark is the oldest of the Gospels. Matthew and Luke made such great use of it in writing their own Gospel accounts that between them they reproduced all but a few verses of Mark’s! So in this Gospel we have for the very first time in history a systematic account of the life and words of Jesus.

from Mark: Jesus, Servant and Savior by Kent Hughes

A human author crafted each of the four gospel accounts, yet their words faithfully represented the thoughts of the Divine Author. From the raw material of Jesus’s life Mark chose one scene, while another he left out. He had some favorite expressions, using them several times, while other expressions, common to Matthew, Luke, or John, he didn’t use at all. The pace, the shape, the order of events, even the verb tenses reflect editorial choices. Keep this in mind as you read the familiar words. Try to read them with first time eyes. Remember the fact that each word was weighed and chosen–that will make you more alert.


Here’s how we’ll approach this study. One Monday I’ll send you a post with questions for the section we’ll be studying. Use them to stir your curiosity as you read through the chapter. Expect to find, not just answers to questions, but treasure.

The next Monday I’ll post about what we just studied, meditating on it and applying it. It will be your food for thought in the week ahead. How does that sound?

Here are the first week’s questions:

Day 1: Context–Read Mark Chapter 1

  1. How does Mark’s opening differ from Matthew, Luke, and John?
  2. Jesus’ first public words are “the time is fulfilled.” What two Old Testament prophecies does Mark choose to highlight? How are these two fulfilled by his coming?
  3. Based on these prophecies, what were they expecting?

Day 2: Observation–Read Mark Chapter 1 as 9 separate scenes

  1. Who are the main characters in each scene? How does Mark describe each one? How do they describe themselves?
  2. When and where do they take place?
  3. What would you say is the high point of this chapter?
  4. What would you say is the theme of this chapter?

Day 3: Meaning–Read Mark Chapter 1 and notice Jesus’s identity and calling

  1. What names does Mark give to Jesus in this chapter?
  2. How does Mark highlight Jesus’s authority?
  3. How does Mark draw attention to Jesus’s service?
  4. What is the message he proclaims?
  5. Who is Jesus and what did he come to do from this chapter?

Day 4: Application–Read Mark Chapter 1 and reflect personally on it.

  1. In what way is Jesus’s authority good news to you today?
  2. How do his priorities change your perspective on what is important?
  3. How does his baptism demonstrate the source of his power for service?
  4. What is your favorite verse from this chapter?

So glad you joined us!

Find more posts on the Gospel of Mark here.

2 replies
  1. Kay says:

    Hi Rondi,
    Ron and I were at an Y Open House Sat. and talk of Pilates came up. Lisa and Kristen were saying how much they miss you and what a wonderful instructor you are!
    I shared with them your award you received in Tucson . Thought you would enjoy knowing you were being praised Sat.

    • Rondi says:

      How kind of Lisa and Kristen. Thank you for passing this on. It spurs me to keep serving my Lord with the gifts he’s given me, instead of being a “martyr mom” (or Pilates instructor)!

Comments are closed.