Series Introduction: Unexpected Kingdom

“But what about you?” Jesus asked his disciples. “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29)

Jesus came teaching the good news and proclaiming to be the Son of God… but people didn’t always get it. Sound familiar? Jesus and his message were often misunderstood in his day, and He’s often not fully understood in our own.

In the Gospel of Mark, we learn that Jesus was not quite the Messiah people thought he would be. Instead of coming in power and might, overthrowing earthly kingdoms, Jesus came as a suffering servant, setting up God’s Kingdom here on earth through his death and resurrection. An Unexpected Kingdom, established by Jesus – An Unexpected King. This is not just a message for his time, but a message for all time.

Who do we say that he is? What do we understand his message to be? These questions are as relevant today as they ever have been.

From September 8th through December 15th, we are exploring the first half of the Gospel of Mark – Jesus’ message of the good news of the unexpected Kingdom of God. In the spring, we will pick back up with the second half, focusing on Jesus, the unexpected King.  


September 8 – A New Hope (Mark 1:1-8)
September 15 – A Divine King (Mark 1:9-13)
September 22 – The Fellowship of the King (Mark 1:14-20)
September 29 – Behind Enemy Lines (Mark 1:21-45)
October 6 – Opposition Rising (Mark 2:1- 3:12)
October 13 – Who’s In, Who’s Out? (Mark 3:13 – 34)
October 20 – Kingdom Stories (Mark 4:1-34)
October 27 – Calming the Chaos (Mark 4:35- 5:20)
November 3 – The Power of Faith (Mark 5: 21- 6:6)
November 10 – A Tale of Two Kings (Mark 6:7-31) 
November 17 – Not Getting It (Mark 6:32–56)
November 24 – Inside Out (Mark 7:1-23)
December 1 – Freedom for All (Mark 7:24- 8:10)
December 8 – Unable to See (Mark 8:11–26)
December 15 – The Messiah Revealed (Mark 8:27-38)

Recommended Resources

For this series, we’ve created a journal to help each of us grow in our habit of reading and studying Scripture. Its layout -with margins- is to encourage engagement with the text:

  • As you’re reading, circle words and phrases that jump out at you. Write your questions and observations in the margins. We retain more as we engage with the text in this way.
  • Each week as you are listening to Sunday message, use this journal to take notes and record your questions and thoughts. 

You can get your copy at the info desk at your site. We have limited quantities, so we are asking that you take one per person. If you’d like to share this resource with friends and family, you can download an electronic copy here.

The Book of Mark // The Bible Project

To get an overview of the book of Mark, along with some of the main themes, watch this video from The Bible Project:

The Gospel is More than You Think (How to Read the Bible series) // The Bible Project

“Where does the word “gospel” come from, and are we using it right? Learn the history of this word and dive into how the biblical authors talked about the gospel. What is the gospel? The answer is far deeper and more exciting than we’ve been led to believe.” Listen here.

Mark for Everyone // N.T. Wright

For those who want to study further, Mark for Everyone is a great commentary for those who are newer to the Bible AND those who have been reading and studying for a while. It’s a perfect blend of scholarship and readability. 

Finally, be sure to subscribe to the Next Steps blog to get ideas for how you can make the most of the Mark journal, plus other engaging content that will help you grow in your relationship with God.