We have all either had or heard the question: How do I grow in my faith?
All my Christian life, I have heard a fairly consistent answer to this questions. If you want to grow in your faith, read you bible, pray, and go to church. I believe these are correct, good, and should be encouraged, but I believe this answer to be incomplete.
Over the past few months, I have been wondering if Jesus himself followed this trifold solution (of course, not that Jesus had any problems…he was perfect). I would like to set out a survey of the Gospel of Mark that looks at the story and attempts to categorize everything with three actions:
Personal Bible Study, Prayer Time, Serving Others.
These terms need to be defined. Personal bible study would be Jesus alone with his bible reading away (my intention is not to discuss what bible Jesus read, that is a whole other discussion). Prayer time would be Jesus going alone to a place to pray. Serving others would be Jesus investing time, energy, and talents to the betterment of others lives. Serving may look like teaching others, healing others, feeding others, etc.
Here is my survey of 8 chapters of Mark in light of this discussion:
Passage Basic Description Category
|1:1-8||John the Baptist prepares the way||Serving|
|1:9-13||Jesus Baptized and Jesus Tempted||Praying|
|1:14-20||Calling of the first Disciple||Serving|
|1:21-28||Jesus drives out and evil spirit||Serving|
|1:29-34||Jesus Heals Many||Serving|
|1:35-39||Praying in a solitary place||Praying|
|1:40-45||Jesus heals a man with leprosy||Serving|
|2:1-12||Jesus heals a paralytic||Serving|
|2:13-17||Calling of Levi||Serving|
|2:18-22||Jesus answers questions about fasting||Serving|
|2:23-3:6||Teaching about the Sabbath||Serving|
|3:7-12||Crowds Follow Jesus/He heals many||Serving|
|3:13-19||Jesus Appoints the 12 Apostles||Historical Description|
|3:20-30||Jesus and Beelzebub||Serving|
|3:31-35||Jesus identifies his spiritual family||Serving|
|4:1-34||A string of parables: sower, lamp, growing seed, mustard seed||Serving|
|4:35-41||Jesus Calms the storm||Serving|
|5:1-20||Healing of a demon possessed man||Serving|
|5:21-43||Dead Girl and a sick woman||Serving|
|6:1-6||Teaches and miracles in hometown||Serving|
|6:6b-13||Jesus send out the 12 and the preach and heal||Serving|
|6:14-29||John the Baptist Beheaded||Historical Description|
|6:30-44||Jesus feeds 5,000||Serving|
|6:45-59||Jesus walks on water||Serving|
|7:1-23||Teaching on Clean and Unclean||Serving|
|7:24-30||The Faith of a Woman||Serving|
|7:31-37||The Healing of a deaf and mute man||Serving|
|8:1-13||Jesus feeds 4,000||Serving|
|8:14-21||Jesus teaches about the Pharisee||Serving|
|8:22-26||Jesus heals a blind man||Serving|
|8:27-30||Jesus teaches who he is through Peter’s confession||Serving|
|8:31-9:1||Jesus predicts his death||Serving|
Through 8 chapters, we have 2 historical descriptions, 2 occurrences of praying, 0 occurrences or personal bible time, and 28 occurrences of serving others. What can we learn from looking at Jesus’ life as recorded in the Gospel of Mark? We learn that by far Jesus spent a great amount of time serving and investing in the lives around us. Next time someone asks you, “What can I do to grow in my faith?” or you yourself are wondering what you can do to grow in your faith…by all means read your bible, pray, go to church, but please do no neglect the reality that we are most like Christ when we serve others.