It is easy to read the opening chapter of Mark's gospel and be struck by what's missing, namely a birth narrative. There are no angels. No Joseph. No Mary. No genealogy. Yet, pay attention to what is there. In his own way, like every other gospel, Mark starts by trying to tell us who Jesus is: The Christ, the Son of God. Sometimes Mark puts Jesus' identity into the mouths of others: Isaiah, the Holy Spirit at Baptism, the evil spirit, the reaction of the amazed congregation. Other times, Mark doesn't tell; he shows: through Jesus' ability to resist temptation, call disciples, teach, cast out evil, and heal.

Notice that by Chapter Two, Jesus is having conflict with religious authorities and his family. The conflict stories foreshadow events yet to come, but they, too, clarify who Jesus is and what he is about.

  • What portrait of Jesus emerges from what people say about Jesus?
  • What do we learn from his actions and the conflict?