Mark: The Unvarnished Jesus
Mark: The Unvarnished Jesus
Mark portrays Jesus as a real person, seeing no need to polish or tidy up the image of his Lord.
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100 Stand Alone Bible Studies

Bible Passages

Mark 3:20–21, 31–34

Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his
disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, “He is out of his mind”…

… Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent
someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting round him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

“Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

Then he looked at those seated in a circle round him and said, “Here are my
mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 4:35–38

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the
other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Mark 6:4–6

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few people who were ill and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.


Mark’s Gospel, the first of the four written and a foundational resource for Matthew and Luke, is structured with extraordinary literary elegance and written with shrewd intelligence, yet the Greek is rough and the sense conveyed is one of immediacy, urgency, and unvarnished reality. One of Mark’s favourite phrases is “at once” or “immediately” – you will notice how often this occurs if you read it straight through or listen to a recording of it.

Mark portrays Jesus as a real person, seeing no need to polish or tidy up
the image of his Lord. This honesty of presentation becomes very clear when we compare Mark’s version with the other Gospels. Luke also tells of Jesus’ mother and brothers asking for him outside the house where he is teaching (Luke 8:19–21), but no mention is made of them thinking he is out of his mind, and Jesus’ reception of them seems more polite.

Matthew (8:23–27) and Luke (8:22–25) also tell the story of the stilling of the
storm, but change Mark’s “they took him into the boat just as he was”. Matthew has the disciples follow Jesus into the boat, and Luke has him get into the boat with his disciples and instruct them where to go – Matthew and Luke make it clear that Jesus is the leader. Only Mark has the vivid, personal detail of the cushion on which Jesus slept. And when in fear they rouse Jesus, Matthew’s disciples say, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing”, Luke’s disciples say, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Only Mark’s say, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Matthew (13:53–58) also includes the story where Jesus comments that a
prophet is without honour in his own town, but amends Mark’s “He could not do any miracles there” to “… he did not do many miracles there”.



O God of truth, our companion in the everyday as well as our exalted Lord, help us to put our trust in you completely, so that your mighty power may be at work in our lives for everyone to see, bringing healing and wholeness, integrity, peace, and salvation: for we ask it in Jesus’ holy name; Amen.