‘The Suffering Servant’ in the Gospel of Mark

In the Gospel of Mark the emphasis is on Jesus, the Suffering Servant.

We discussed aspects of Jesus in the blogs ‘Why are the four Gospels so different?’ and  ‘Jesus the King’ in the Gospel of Matthew. 1  In the Gospel of Mark the emphasis is on Jesus, the Suffering Servant.

#  The face of the Servant shows up in the following ways in the Gospel of Mark: 

  • Genealogy.  A servant’s genealogy is not important, so it is absent from Mark.
  • Jesus’ birth.  There are no details about His birth.  
  • Testing.  The testing by the devil is briefly mentioned. 1:12-13
  • Pilate’s wife.  In Matthew, Pilate’s wife sent him a warning about Jesus. 2  She understood Jesus as the King of His Kingdom.  Neither Mark (the Suffering Servant), Luke (the Perfect Man) or John (the Son of God) mentions her warning.  The latter aspects of Jesus would mean nothing to her.  She was used to the concept of a king of a kingdom.
  • No Lord’s Prayer or long discourses.  A Servant works.  He does not make lengthy speeches.  Because the servant is always ready to work, there are many words like, ‘At once,’ ‘Without delay,’ ‘Immediately.’ 3
  • A servant is not addressed as ‘Lord.’  Only the woman from Tyre calls Jesus ‘Lord’ in Mark.
    • In Matthew 8:2 the leper says to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you are willing….’  In Mark 1:40 the leper says, ‘If you are willing, you can heal me.’
    • In the storm, the disciples cry, ‘Save us, Lord, we are lost.’ Matthew 8:25.  In Mark 4:39 they shout, ‘Teacher, do you not care, we are lost.’
    • At the Last Supper, the disciples say, ‘Not me, Lord, surely,’ Matthew 26:22.  In Mark, ‘Not me, surely?’ Mark 14:19.
  • No judgements.  As can be expected from the Servant, He does not pass judgments.
    • In Matthew Jesus severely reprimands the scribes and the Pharisees, Matthew 23.  In Mark 12:38 He only cautions His disciples to ‘watch out for the teachers of the law….’
    • In Mark’s account there is no one sitting on His throne in heavenly glory separating the nations to his right and left hand. 5
  • His Arrest.  At His arrest, there is not a reference to Jesus’ right to summon twelve legions of angels to His defence, Matthew 26:53 versus Mark 14:43-50.
  • Paradise.  The Suffering Servant does not promise paradise to the dying thief, Mark 16:27, as He did in Luke 23:39-43.
  • His Death.  In Matthew 27:51-53 the death of the King caused upheaval: an earthquake that shook the earth, the rocks split and many dead people were raised to life.  Nothing like that is reported with the death of the Servant, Mark 15:33-37.
  • Final commands.  The Suffering Servant’s final commands differ from those of the King.  He just tells the disciples, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.’ Mark 16:15.  There is no mention of the power of the King, All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make…’ Matthew 28:18.


It is remarkable how easily one misses the small details that spell out aspects of our wonderful Jesus.  We never need to be ashamed of the Gospels.  They are Holy Spirit inspired.


  1. J Bickersteth, T Pain, The Four Faces of God, Kingsway Publications, 1992, reprinted 1993, 1994.
  2. Matthew 27:19
  3. Mark 1:12, 18, 20, 43: 2:13
  4. Mt 8:2 vs Mk 1:40; Mt 8:25 vs Mk 4:39; Mt 26:22 vs Mk 14:19
  5. Matthew 25:31-46

Author: Gerard and Alida

As you can see in the photo, there are two of us. We live and work together 24/7, studying and enjoying our grandchildren. Our passion is to know and understand what will happen after death. Is there a way to provide for and invest in that?

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