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Third Sunday After Epiphany

January 24, 2021

Study Guide for Mark 1:14-20

First Thoughts

Here we go on an new adventure!  Starting today, through Lent (and hopefully beyond) we will be using this format for Bible Study. These study guides coincide with the text and message of the previous Sunday and are intended to promote a further and more in-depth study of the passage.  The Epiphany Season will feature Mark’s Gospel as this the B year of the RCL. But we will move in a slightly different direction during Lent. I will be preaching (and we will be studying) a sermon series called The Enduring Empire: A Contextual Study of the Gospel According to John. This is a series and I developed that focuses on the teachings of Jesus in light of the Roman occupation and persecution that John’s community was enduring. I will be sending all of you the study guides in advance and they will be posted on this blog.

General Background

What do you already know about the Gospel According to Mark as compared to the other three accounts? What’s the same? What’s different?

Mark 1:14-15


Jesus establishes his authority about who he is and what he’s up to.

Theological Perspective

The beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Mark’s Gospel follows his baptism and temptation. No birth narrative. No stories about his childhood. Mark gets right down to the nitty-gritty. The text tells us that Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the good news, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!” (CEB)  

This passage is a summary statement that introduces themes present throughout Mark’s Gospel. These themes form the core of what Jesus’ disciples and, later, the early Christian church preached and taught. (We will encounter many of these themes throughout the coming year as we move through the Gospel of Mark)

However, Mark 1:15 is not a fixed theological formula, as if Jesus had only one sermon and delivered it in a variety of places. Instead, the themes here open into the way Jesus explained and expounded upon them throughout his ministry, in different places and contexts. They open into what the church developed into it’s primary theological understandings. In other words, the kingdom or reign of God came in the person of Jesus with the primary goal of changing human “hearts and lives.”

Food for Thought

How might “changing hearts and lives” still be relevantin the world today? …in our nation or community? The Church?

Mark 1:16-20

Theme: Calling of the first disciples.

Contextual & Theological Perspective

The power and authority of Jesus’ words are experienced in the call of his first disciples. Two sets of brothers (Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John) are called from their task of fishing. They respond immediately and decisively. Their vocation as fisherman gives way to what John Calvin called their “higher calling” to “fish for people.” Leaving jobs and families shows us that they were utterly convinced by Jesus about who he was and the nature of his mission.


How might this immediate and decisive decisionby the first four still be relevant to us in our context?

Have you ever considered what your life’s calling might have been? What is still is? What it may yet be? How might “changing hearts and lives” fit into your sense of call?


The primary source of information for this study guide: Feasting on the Gospels: Mark. Cynthia A. Jarvis and E. Elisabeth Johnson eds. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press) 2014

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