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Beginning with Mark


I am a Christian. My faith in Jesus centers me and gives me a steady hand to guide me through all of the challenges of life. As important as my faith is to me, I wasn’t raised a Christian and it wasn’t until my late twenties that I found God. This journey is incredibly personal and perhaps I’ll share it in a future post. Suffice to say, I spent the better part of my youth feeling lost, alone, confused, and I certainly lacked the moral compass to make better choices.


It is important to me and my husband that our children are raised with knowledge and understanding of Jesus’s love. I want them to feel centered in their faith. I want them to want to learn and read The Holy Bible, to study God’s Word, and to apply its lessons in their own lives. They are also very young. Maggie is three and a half and nonverbal while Hazel is going to be two in November, a chatterbox of random words, but her comprehension limited to the concrete rather than abstract. For this reason, my children’s first deep dive into the Bible begins with the Book of Mark.



What I like about The Book of Mark, with respect to a Biblical introduction to Jesus for children, is how it is all action. At only sixteen chapters, it is short enough to read in a single sitting which allows for big picture comprehension. Passages are likewise rich enough to hone in on the message of a single verse. Both Matthew and Luke begin with a genealogical survey of Jesus’s ancestors, all of which alludes to important figures in the Old Testament. When they are older and ready to make connections, I intend on using this itemized family tree to guide future Bible studies. To a child who does not know Jesus, these are nothing more than a long list of arbitrary names that do little more than to confuse and distract from the events in Jesus’s life. The Book of John, on the other hand, is the most divine of the Gospels, which also makes it the most abstract. We will also read The Book of John when they are ready.


The Book of Mark begins with John the Baptist, an interesting character to say the least. His physical description and his words introduces Jesus, who immediately gets to work after John baptizes him in the river. Jesus proceeds to heal people, teach parables, interact with communities, and debate with Pharisees. In Mark 6, John the Baptist is sentenced to beheading for the crime of criticizing royal leaders for immoral behavior. Jesus continued to perform miracles, like multiplying food and walking on water. He healed so many people, demonstrating the might of God in his actions. He was also more brazen in confronting the religious Pharisees for hypocrisy, which led to their plotting the death of Jesus. Jesus revealed his transfiguration to his disciples, along with guest appearances by Moses, Elijah, and the voice of God. He heals the blind, the paralyzed, the epileptics, people afflicted with a multitude of ailments. He predicted his death on different occasions, and ultimately, he is crucified and returns in three days.


Although there are so many powerful words uttered by Jesus in these pages, the most important is Mark 12:30-31: “Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”


I know that there are many complex issues that will certainly be beyond the maturity and comprehension of children as young as preschool age. For instance, I can’t expect them to understand why a person would ask for the head of another person and why such a gruesome request would be honored. As an adult, I still struggle with the injustice Jesus faced and his crucifixion. I still want to expose them to the entirety of the Book of Mark because I want them to ask questions. I want them to grapple with the complexity of issues raised in The Book of Mark. I want them to raise questions about abstract issues like fairness and justice without necessarily recognizing these as abstract concepts. More than anything, I want them to take to heart the lesson Jesus himself identified as the most important of his lessons: “Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”


Their takeaway, I hope, is to love God, love Jesus, and love others as themselves. This is the big picture takeaway. Everything else can be a lesson, a conversation, for a new day when they are ready to grapple with the details.



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