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Jesus in the Wild Places



Ben Stuart guides us through the Gospel of Mark. We believe Jesus is the Centerpiece of the human story and the Hero of our story, and our lives will be transformed as we set our minds on Him.

Key Takeaway

You may have had a rough season of life where you were a failure and let everyone down, but Jesus is the hero of your story. He can redeem you and transform your life in a way that is for your good and His glory.

The story we, as a church, want to tell is Jesus. Why study the gospel of Mark?

  1. Christians: we are deeply associated with Jesus. We believe He is the answer to all of our questions. He is the source of hope, life, and healing. We believe He is the centerpiece of the human story and the hero of ours. Our lives are all about him.
    • If He's everything to us, then how much time do we give Him? How much do we think about Him? How long do we really focus on Him?
    • 2 Corinthians 3:18 says as we behold Him, we are transformed from glory to glory. To look at Him and really see Him is to love Him; to love Him is to become like Him.
  2. Non-Christians: everything stated to this point is not what you believe. The hope of the Christian is that you would come to know Jesus. We want you to know love and trust Jesus because the fullness of life is in Him.

Mark is the shortest gospel and is fast-paced. It's undiluted and quick to the point. His audience was unfamiliar with religion, so he explained Jewish words and customs. He uses Latin phrases that the Gentiles in the Roman Empire would have used. He traveled with Peter and was with him in Rome. Many believe that Mark wrote this gospel while in the capital city.

We are looking at 3 words that will answer 3 key questions as we begin this study of Mark.

-Who is Jesus?

-How do I meet Him?

-Why would I want to?

Gospel. See Mark 1:1.

  • To the Roman audience, the gospel meant "good message, heralding of good news." It was used in official announcements of a new Caesar. Romans would have thought a historical event had occurred that brought a new situation for the world to be impacted by. Mark is implying that when he introduces Jesus, He's not introducing just a rabbi; he's introducing the Son of God, a King.
  • To the Jewish audience, the word "gospel" meant even more. It was in Isaiah a lot. After God delivered His people out of Egypt and into the Promised Land, he told them how to live so He could bless them. The people continue to persist in disobedience. God, after years of warnings to repent, cast them out of the land. They were re-enslaved to Babylon by their own doing. In the depths of their despair, Isaiah speaks of "good news"; the gospel. Isaiah 40:9-10 says behold YOUR God. Isaiah 52:7: "How beautiful are the feet that bring good news"...YOUR God reigns. It's not just about a new ruler, it's about a redeemer. This is where their hope is placed.

Mark is not a normal biography. You can't read it like that. He says from the start that there is an official pronouncement that there's a new king in town, and it involves you. He challenges you at the beginning that this person changed history; you have to react to Him. The Maker came to us, it's not us working and striving to get to Him as so many stories go. The Author wrote himself into the story.

How do you prepare for the arrival of a King? Where do you meet Him?

Wilderness. See Mark 1:2-5.

  • You have to go to the wilderness. He'll meet you in the wild places. Exodus says, "I'll send my messenger before you", Malachi says, "I send my messenger to prepare a way, and Isaiah says, "I send my messenger in the wilderness that proclaims to prepare the way of the Lord." Mark put all of those together! There is a herald coming to prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness, and John the Baptist is that herald.
  • Going to the wilderness to meet Jesus means you have to come out. The repetition of the wilderness isn't geographical. He's saying you have to get out of the spot you're in to go where He is to meet Him. You have to walk away from the things that you thought would give you power but actually enslave you. Wilderness is quiet and puts you in touch with your needs. You really are dependent and weak, in need of a Savior. Acknowledge your vulnerability and weakness. Get honest with God about your brokenness.
  • Mark is just like us. We meet him in Act when Peter goes to Mark's mom's home after he gets out of prison because that's where the Church met. There's speculation that the last supper happened at her house because Mark is the only one who tells the story about being there as a kid, and the young man followed Jesus and the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane, but he got scared when he saw the guards and ran away naked. Not his best moment. He ran.

Later, Paul and Barnabas spread the gospel and we discover that John Mark (AKA Mark) is the cousin of Barnabas. He wants John Mark to go, but as soon as it gets dangerous, John Mark runs away. Again.

Because he keeps doing this, Paul refuses to take him on future journeys with him and it causes a riff between Paul and Barnabas. So much so that they split and don't work together again. The dream team, the original evangelists, split up because of John Mark. But Barnabas continues to work with Mark.

At the end of Colossians, Paul tells that Church to welcome John Mark. That means that his reputation has preceded him, and Paul has to vouch for him. In 1 Peter, when Peter is in Rome, he sends greetings to the church from himself and Mark, addressing Mark as his son.

Mark, who had made such a mess of his life, now sits at the feet of Peter and is considered his spiritual son. Peter probably led him to Christ. It's in your failure that Christ wants to meet you there.

In 2 Timothy, Paul tells Timothy to bring Mark to him because he is useful to him for service. He who was a betrayer is now useful! As he learned from Peter, he took extensive notes and gave us the first gospel written. He gave us the account of Peter after his death.

Mark is not the hero of the story, he's a mess. But Jesus came to him in his brokenness and took a mess of a kid and made him into a messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ through centuries. That's what the gospel does. Jesus doesn't come to get you when you're clean, it's when you're broken.

Why do I want Jesus? What makes Him great?

Spirit. He brings His Spirit with Him. See Mark 1:12-13.

  • The beauty of Genesis is that He gave us the Spirit of God in our lungs. The tragedy of Genesis 3 is when we broke faith in God, the Spirit of God left. Isaiah 51:3 says the Spirit will return and make wilderness like a garden. Jesus is bringing paradise back, not by just forgiving our sins, but by giving His Spirit that transforms us.
  • What gives Jesus the right to change us from the inside out? He took on our life; He steps into our wilderness and temptation. Where we fail, He is triumphant. He beat death and brought the Spirit of God back to us.

Hosea, as a picture of God, redeemed his prostitute wife. She could not get the going rate and he paid over asking to lavish her with love and get her off the slave block. God did that for us. He is our doorway of hope. He doesn't shame you, He wants to restore you.


"Mark is not the hero of the story; he's a mess. But Jesus came to him in his brokenness and took a mess of a kid and made him into a messenger of the gospel of Jesus Christ through centuries. That's what the gospel does. Jesus doesn't come to get you when you're clean; it's when you're broken."

Ben Stuart

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Scripture References

  • Mark 1:1-15
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • Isaiah 40:9-10
  • Isaiah 51:3
  • Isaiah 52:7
Ben Stuart Ben Stuart is the pastor of Passion City Church D.C. Prior to joining Passion City Church, Ben served as the executive director of Breakaway Ministries on the campus of Texas A&M. He also earned a master’s degree in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Donna, live to inspire and equip people to walk with God for a lifetime.