Study Guide

Gospel of Mark Sadness

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Mark may call his story "good news" (1:1), but Jesus's arrival isn't all it's cracked up to be in the happily-ever-after department. Turns out it will exact extreme suffering and—yes—grief and mourning. This is no story of triumph or health and wealth, but of loss, betrayal, and abandonment, which bring in their wake a sadness that is shared by both characters and ideal readers.

Things get majorly dark at the very end of the story, as the disciples witness their master's arrest and Jesus approaches his painful death. Several allusions to Psalms of lamentation just drive the point home. Break out the tissues.

Questions About Sadness

  1. How are readers supposed to respond to the emotional intensity and sadness of the passion narrative?
  2. Why does Mark close the story of the disciples with an image of Peter violently weeping? How does this shape our final judgment of the disciples as characters?
  3. What's the point of all of the allusions to Psalms of lamentation in the passion narrative? How far can we push their significance? Are they simply there to give the narrative tone and color? Do they imply that Jesus is fulfilling scriptural prophecy? 
  4. Why does Mark make Jesus's last statement one of total sadness? After all, Jesus's last words are different in Luke (23:46) and John (19:30).

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