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Jesus - Our Authoritative Teacher presented in Mark's Gospel

The post below was originally submitted to Liberty University in fulfillment of coursework for a course in the M. Div Leadership Program.

I enjoyed writing this paper and feel that we can all benefit from viewing Jesus as our teacher (in addition to Savior and the many hats He wears for us).



When reading the gospel of Mark it is apparent of Jesus’ deity along with the emphasis on Jesus as a teacher. It is Jesus’ deity that gives Him the authority to teach with such boldness as He did. Mark’s audience cannot deny the authority of Jesus’ teaching ministry that is heavily displayed through the majority of this gospel. While Jesus can be interpreted in many ways throughout this gospel, Mark’s reader is a student of the teacher, Jesus. Mark was composed for the purpose of teaching. It is important to note Mark’s purpose is to illuminate why we see Jesus personified as a teacher for most of Mark.[1] To prove Jesus’ identity as a teacher in the gospel of Mark this paper will look at multiple passages from Mark using the gospel as the primary source with help from the course’s textbook and peer-reviewed journal articles. While Jesus was more than a mere teacher, Mark portrays Jesus as the Teacher of the Christians who taught with authority by using His words and actions. Jesus’ parables, deity, and authority are all discussed within Mark portraying Jesus as the authoritative teacher of Christians. Jesus Himself states teaching as His purpose in Mark 1:38-39 – “He said to them, “Let’s go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may also preach there; for this is why I came.” And He went into their synagogues preaching throughout Galilee, and casting out the demons.”[2] This paper will further explore the type of teacher Jesus was and the implications that holds for the Christians of the past, present, and future.

The first way Mark portrays Jesus is as a “preacher-teacher” and second as a worker of miracles.[3] While Mark records fewer teachings than in the other gospels Jesus is referred to as teacher or teacher equivalent 37 times.[4] In the very first chapter of Mark Jesus is portrayed as an authoritative teacher in verses 14-20.[5] This is further verified in verses 21-45. Jesus frequently taught in the synagogues, but He taught as one with authority unlike the other scribes.[6]Jesus’ ability to perform miracles made Him appeal as someone with great authority who could teach with the same authority coming from God the Father.

Jesus is evidenced as a teacher by the very fact that His followers called Him, “Teacher”, this was His title. In Mark 10:51 we see Jesus referred to as “Rabboni” which can be translated to “my teacher”.[7] This displays Jesus as a personable teacher who held great power to heal those who had faith in Him. Teaching was one of the ways Christ lived out being a servant leader. The following statements from Elwell and Yarbrough ensure interpretation of Jesus as Teacher is suitable: “He came embodying it in all the wonderful things He did and taught.” and “…he has come to teach what people need to know about God.”[8] The story of Mark is more linked together than divided into strait edged sections.[9] This makes sense why in Mark we can see Jesus simultaneously as a teacher and Son of man or rather how His abilities as Son of Man make Him the teacher the world needed. Only halfway through the gospel of Mark is Jesus declared as the Christ by Peter in 8:27-29.[10] For this reason this paper focuses on Christ as a teacher; Jesus has not been called anything else besides Teacher and has proved to be an authoritative one.

Within Jesus’ ministries in the gospel of Mark we see two constants – Jesus healing and Jesus teaching. The miracles Jesus performed confirmed His deity giving His teaching the backbone it needed for others to believe it. Portraying Christ as the Son of God gave value to His teachings so others would believe His words and take them to heart. In Mark we immediately see Jesus teach in chapter 1 verses 21-22 when He began to teach on the Sabbath. Shortly after this teaching in verse 27 Jesus casts out demons. Displayed within the first chapter of Mark are teaching and a miracle. Verse 27 says “They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.””[11] There is authority in Jesus’ teaching. The very first chapter in Mark introduces Jesus as a teacher with authority. Verse 38 further proves this argument with Jesus’ words: “He said to them: “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.””[12] Besides Mark mentioning Jesus as “Teacher” and reinforcing His authority with the evidence of His deity, Mark also displays the type of Teacher Jesus is. Jesus is portrayed as a compassionate teacher who pays great attention to detail. Jesus was a careful teacher – He taught with precision and purpose. He not only took the time to teach in parables to the crowds but took the time to explain the parables to His disciples so they understood the why behind what was being taught and the very content they will need to teach in the future.[13]As a hands-on teacher Jesus chose 12 people to teach closely so that they may go and be teachers themselves. This Jesus is the teacher of all believers who are to go and make disciples of men. [14] In Mark 6:34-38 Jesus’ compassion leads to teaching and then the miracle feeding. Jesus’ compassion lead to both His teaching and the miracles He performed. This is the teacher that we are to learn from and emulate. Jesus made sure to teach in a way so others could understand – He used their language and their culture – but if they could not understand, it was due to their hardened heart towards Him. This is why it was important for Jesus to display His deity through miracles and His authoritative compassion toward those who followed Him. In Mark 8:17 Jesus asks if they have a hardened heart because they are having trouble trusting Him. Jesus’ teachings are available to everyone once they soften their hearts toward Him. In Mark 12:28-31 Jesus is portrayed as a trustworthy teacher with the wisdom of the scriptures. Jesus can be recognized as a teacher who could recall knowledge for an easy rebuttal – a recollection of His knowledge of Moses to make His argument’s case. In verse 34 it says He was no longer then questioned because of the great knowledge He displayed.

Mark 1:21-34 is key in understanding the authority Christ had in His teaching. This whole passage takes place on the day of the Lord and how Jesus teaches on this day sets Him apart from the other scribes of His day. On this day Jesus teaches, casts out demons, and heals.[15] Jesus taught at the synagogue on this day without waiting for permission or invitation to do so. He had the authority to teach on the Lord’s Day there in the synagogue. Christ’s casting out demons cannot be a separate ministry apart from His teaching because it is through this that His very authority is displayed. Jesus does everything including teaching from a victory standpoint. Because He knows the beginning from the end, He knows that He is the victor thus this is woven through His teachings and where He gains His power. The reader is clued in on this by the way the demons recognize Jesus as “the Holy One of God”.[16] The unclean spirits know they are defeated once they know who is before them. It is also noted that Jesus does not pray but acts with divine authority instilled in Him as He performs these miracles.[17] Mark 5:35 showcases one of the more profound miracles Jesus has performed despite the doubt that was spat His way for this miracle in particular. When Jesus was asked to heal a girl who was on her death bed, her funeral, many mocked Him saying what can a mere teacher do to help you. Through this miracle of healing the girl at her own funeral Jesus displayed he was no ordinary teacher. In Mark 6:3 we see the doubt again – “is this not the carpenter..?” Through Jesus’ teachings He confirms His wisdom and deity. He is far more than the carpenter. There is healing within His hands. Each time someone doubted Jesus as Teacher or anything else for that matter, He was quick to prove them wrong thus proving His trustworthiness as a teacher.

While we know Jesus taught with authority because of His deity, it is vital to know His teaching style came from actually living His life as one to be emulated by His followers. In chapter 3 verse 14 Jesus had appointed the twelve disciples “so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach.”[18] This scripture points to Jesus as a Teacher because Jesus chose His disciples whom He would mentor and train to teach the same message He was teaching so that they can go out and preach or teach others that same gospel message. Jesus was “seminary” to the twelve disciples. Boring notes that these twelve are an extension of Jesus’ ministry they are to carry it into the world.[19] Jesus further encourages His followers to emulate Him through His parables.

To further expand on the teaching of Jesus in order to gain a cohesive insight on how Mark portrays Jesus as a Teacher we must look at the parables within Mark. In 3:23-29 is where the word, “parables” is first presented in Mark displaying how Jesus taught.[20] Boring explains parables as “a means of disclosing new truth that cannot be reduced to nonparabolic, discursive language.”[21] In 4:10-12, Mark presents the first “parable theory” of how Jesus taught in parables.[22] Jesus taught with the crowd’s comprehension as His goal. He was the kind of Teacher that had such a large crowd that He needed to use a boat as a platform to be able to not get lost in that crowd because He was sought out.[23] Through teaching in this manner Jesus allowed His crowd to think and process His words so that they may apply them and be obedient in their commitment to God. Not only did Christ teach publicly but He also taught privately. Previously noted is how Jesus taught the Twelve, privately.[24] Jesus would teach publicly to the crowd and then later explain it all more elaborately to the Twelve so that they may not only learn the lesson Jesus taught but how to teach the lesson. Jesus was teaching the upcoming teachers of the gospel message. Boring states that Jesus is the one who gives the parable and the interpretation.[25] From this it can be concluded that a person needs Jesus to be a teacher who walks with them who can reveal an interpretation to a softened heart.[26]

With a softened heart a follower of Jesus can then be an active participant in Jesus’ teachings. Jesus uses actions and words in His teachings. Jesus’ parables not only teach but they call the student to action – they are not only told information but they are taught how to act in accordance with the Christian life. Blount further says that Jesus confronts, engages, and challenges His listeners and readers. Not only does Jesus teach but He teaches in such a way that is to be emulated. [27] If there is ever any question of how the Christian should act according to the ways of God, they must only look to Jesus. Through His actions, He taught His followers of past and present how to live out the Christian faith and make disciples. Blount states that Jesus teaches a particular message in the way He lives His life: “the Reign of God is a reality that does not designate some people as more pure than the others, as more holy than others, and then separate them from one another.”[28] Jesus teaches unity within His kingdom and everyone is invited to enter under His reign.

While it is vital that Christ taught more with His actions than words, it is important that we acknowledge some of His words here and how they contributed to His identity as a Teacher. Chapters 4 and 13 display actual discourse teaching – a parable cluster and an apocalyptic teaching.[29] When hearing the apocalyptic teaching many may have been discouraged to listen to Jesus’ teaching further, but people still flocked to Him because of the type of teacher He was.

In Mark 4:10-13 Jesus discloses that there is a mystery within the parables. These mysteries are for the “insiders” or the Christians to comprehend.[30] Furthermore, the key to understanding the parables Jesus taught is through understanding how the Teacher lives His life, not in mere words. The parables are not themselves the lesson. Blount furthers this argument of the parables not being the source of the lesson by stating that the parables alone are insufficient; we need to look at Jesus and how we lived in order to understand His teachings. If we are to effectively teach the way Jesus did, pointing to the reign of God over His heavenly and earthly kingdom then we ought to emulate Christ by aligning our actions with our words. Jesus’ life not only taught a certain way to live but also taught of how He will reign over His kingdom.

The heart of Jesus and His teaching ministry can be discovered in Mark 7:14-23. From Jesus’ teaching on purity in Mark 7:14-23 we can learn what Jesus’ values and what He also wants His students to value as well. While Jesus knew the Torah and all its commandments, He placed more value on loving others and this obedience unto the commandments come from a place of love.[31] Jesus taught the Torah while also ensuring love as the basis for obedience.

He was a teacher the Jews could trust because of the value he placed on the Torah, yet He made sure God’ intention of the commandment was worth more than the commandment itself.[32] Jesus prioritized the transformation from unclean to clean because He overcame uncleanliness; Jesus’ purity was contagious.[33] Jesus was a teacher who cared about the heart. Jesus taught through His actions of obedience which cultivate or come from a pure heart. All we do flows from the heart which Jesus so often emphasizes as seen in Mark 7. The core of Jesus’ teaching dealt with the Christian heart’s ability to understand His teachings on the coming Kingdom of God.[34] Jesus had the ability to declare what was clean and unclean.[35] Jesus can be referred to as God’s personal representative who defines purity and the kingdom of God.[36] Jesus offers teachings on the complete understanding of the Torah and the knowledge of the new covenant that is to come after the work of the cross is completed.[37] Jesus is a teacher who is concerned with the student’s heart. Mark 12:28-31 reiterates Jesus was a trustworthy teacher with the wisdom of the scriptures. A teacher who could recall knowledge for an easy rebuttal – recollection of His knowledge of Moses to make His argument’s case. In verse 34 it says He was no longer then questioned because of the great knowledge He displayed.

The gospel of Mark portrays Jesus as a preacher teacher who used His deity proved by His miracles to give Him the accreditation deserved amongst His students and other teachers of His day. This is reiterated when Jesus is referred to as “teacher” 37 times alone within Mark’s gospel.[38] Not only was Jesus a teacher but he was a teacher who cultivated relationships with His students or congregation as He was called “Rabboni” translated to “my teacher”.[39] The crowds sought Jesus out to be their personal teacher seeking out only the wisdom Jesus, the authoritative teacher can provide. A constant within the gospel of Mark is that the reader has multiple examples of Jesus teaching. The very first chapter gives the Markan gospel proof of Jesus as teacher according to Mark 1:38-39 when Jesus declares the reason He had come was to preach, His purpose in “going” was to preach. Jesus’ time on earth was to be a servant leader who taught God’s people how they ought to live through His words and actions. Not only did Jesus come to be the source of our salvation but He also took the time to teach God’s people how to walk in salvation so that they could be saved and join God’s kingdom both here on earth and in heaven. Jesus was the ultimate teacher who crossed boundaries to teach His students of past and present how to live boldly in the Christian faith.




[1] Boring, M. Eugene. 2006. Mark : A Commentary. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Accessed March 4, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central. [2] Mark 1:38-39, NASB, emphasis added [3] ELWELL, WALTER A.; YARBROUGH, ROBERT W., Encountering the New Testament a Historical and Theological Survey (GRAND RAPIDS: BAKER BOOK HOUSE, 2022). [4] Kenneth L. Barker, NASB Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1999). [5] David S. Dockery, Concise Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2016). [6] David S. Dockery, Concise Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2016). [7] Kenneth L. Barker, NASB Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1999). [8] ELWELL, WALTER A.; YARBROUGH, ROBERT W., Encountering the New Testament a Historical and Theological Survey (GRAND RAPIDS: BAKER BOOK HOUSE, 2022). P.80 [9] Boring, M. Eugene. 2006. Mark : A Commentary. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Accessed March 4, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central. [10] Boring, M. Eugene. 2006. Mark : A Commentary. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Accessed March 4, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central. [11] Mark 1:27, NASB, Emphasis mine [12] Mark1:38, NASB [13] Mark 4:33-34, NASB [14] Mark 3:14, NASB [15] Boring, M. Eugene. 2006. Mark : A Commentary. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Accessed March 4, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central. [16] Mark 1:24, NASB [17] Boring, M. Eugene. 2006. Mark : A Commentary. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Accessed March 4, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central. [18] Mark 3:14, NASB [19] Boring, M. Eugene. 2006. Mark : A Commentary. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Accessed March 4, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central. [20] Boring, M. Eugene. 2006. Mark : A Commentary. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Accessed March 4, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central. P. [21] Boring, M. Eugene. 2006. Mark : A Commentary. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Accessed March 4, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central.121 [22] Boring, M. Eugene. 2006. Mark : A Commentary. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Accessed March 4, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central. [23][23] Mark 4:1-2, NASB [24] Boring, M. Eugene. 2006. Mark : A Commentary. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Accessed March 4, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central. [25] Boring, M. Eugene. 2006. Mark : A Commentary. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Accessed March 4, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central. [26] Mark 8:17, NASB [27] Blount, Brian K. “Jesus as Teacher: Boundary Breaking in Mark’s Gospel and Today’s Church.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible & Theology 70, no. 2 (April 2016): 184–93. doi:10.1177/0020964315622997. [28] Blount, Brian K. “Jesus as Teacher: Boundary Breaking in Mark’s Gospel and Today’s Church.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible & Theology 70, no. 2 (April 2016): 184–93. doi:10.1177/0020964315622997. P.187 [29] Blount, Brian K. “Jesus as Teacher: Boundary Breaking in Mark’s Gospel and Today’s Church.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible & Theology 70, no. 2 (April 2016): 184–93. doi:10.1177/0020964315622997. [30] Blount, Brian K. “Jesus as Teacher: Boundary Breaking in Mark’s Gospel and Today’s Church.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible & Theology 70, no. 2 (April 2016): 184–93. doi:10.1177/0020964315622997. [31] Stettler, C. “Purity of Heart in Jesus’ Teaching: Mark 7:14-23 Par. as an Expression of Jesus’ Basileia Ethics.” Journal of theological studies 55, no. 2 (2004): 467–502. [32]Stettler, C. “Purity of Heart in Jesus’ Teaching: Mark 7:14-23 Par. as an Expression of Jesus’ Basileia Ethics.” Journal of theological studies 55, no. 2 (2004): 467–502. [33] Stettler, C. “Purity of Heart in Jesus’ Teaching: Mark 7:14-23 Par. as an Expression of Jesus’ Basileia Ethics.” Journal of theological studies 55, no. 2 (2004): 467–502. [34] Stettler, C. “Purity of Heart in Jesus’ Teaching: Mark 7:14-23 Par. as an Expression of Jesus’ Basileia Ethics.” Journal of theological studies 55, no. 2 (2004): 467–502. [35] Stettler, C. “Purity of Heart in Jesus’ Teaching: Mark 7:14-23 Par. as an Expression of Jesus’ Basileia Ethics.” Journal of theological studies 55, no. 2 (2004): 467–502. [36] Stettler, C. “Purity of Heart in Jesus’ Teaching: Mark 7:14-23 Par. as an Expression of Jesus’ Basileia Ethics.” Journal of theological studies 55, no. 2 (2004): 467–502. [37] Stettler, C. “Purity of Heart in Jesus’ Teaching: Mark 7:14-23 Par. as an Expression of Jesus’ Basileia Ethics.” Journal of theological studies 55, no. 2 (2004): 467–502. [38] Barker, Kenneth L. NASB Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1999. [39] Barker, Kenneth L. NASB Study Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1999.

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