Nov 24, 2019 in Counseling

Jesus as a Motivational Interviewer Book of Mark

Motivational interviewing methods that Jesus used while interacting with people. This article explored each chapter in the Gospel of Mark with the intent of exploring Jesus’s motivational interviewing skills with the different stages of change Jesus encou

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What Did Jesus Do in the Book of Mark

With Motivational Interviewing & the Stages of Change

Authors: April C. Slocum, Cassandra Hankins, Tiffany Lewis, Luz Torrey, Maria Williams     Published: April 22, 2018



Motivational Interviewing is the fundamental process of communication styles that directs, guides, and follows a person to self-discovery through effective conversations involving stages of change (Miller & Rollnick, 2013).

Stages of change is the modern conceptual framework known as the Transtheoretical Model which includes pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance stages (Prochaska & DiClemente, 1982). Pre-contemplation is considered when a person has no intention of changing their thought patterns and/or their behaviors. Contemplation is the stage where a person is considering the possibility of change. Preparation is the stage where a person is making an effort and/or prepares for a change. Action is the stage that involves taking steps toward change and maintenance is the stage where a person can successfully avoid old ways of thinking and behaving.

In the Book of Mark (New International Version), Jesus is portrayed as a servant of God serving for a larger purpose and models how to live life by partnership, acceptance, compassion, and evocation (Miller &Rollnick, 2013). Mark reveals Jesus as a teacher and a mentor reaching into people’s lives impacting their physical and circumstantial situations as well as encouraging positive change. It was Jesus’ mission to teach those who understood in parables and to provide psycho-education to the people. Mark 4:11 Jesus told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables”.

In the Book of Mark, Jesus addressed the five stages of change of pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance stages using the four processes of motivational interviewing to encourage change by engaging, focusing, evoking, and planning positive change away from sin and gain eternal salvation.

Mark 1

In Mark 1, Jesus gets baptized by John. Jesus conveys a stage of action through His doing without questioning. Jesus gets baptized and goes into the wilderness for forty days where He is tempted by Satan, but Satan does not prevail. Jesus maintains his action stage and even conveys maintenance stage as He maintains His strength and faith. At Galilee, Jesus engaged with his first Disciples Simon, Andrew, James, and John to follow him. Mark 1: 17-18, “Come, follow me”, Jesus said, “And I will send you out to fish for people. At once they left their net and followed Him”. The Disciples immediate action after engagement suggests action stage as they abandoned their nets to follow Jesus after He engaged with them. Mark 1:19-21, “When he had gone a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat preparing their nets. Without delay He called them and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him”. Jesus used engaging and focusing as Jesus’ agenda is to prepare for direction. James and John immediate action without hesitation suggest action stage.

Jesus preaches and casts out demons conveying an action stage as His work suggests taking action by healing an individual from leprosy as well as others from illnesses and helping people become demon free. Jesus expresses the importance of self-care in Mark 1:35 “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed”. Jesus is preparing Himself to continue His good works, thus action stage.

Mark 2

In Mark 2, many gathered at the house and Jesus forgave people for their sins as he continued to heal people. Jesus continues His good work as He is preparing for a direction. Mark 2:6-7, now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves,  “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”. The teachers of the law are in pre-contemplation stage as they do not believe or have faith in Jesus or His works. The teachers of the law cannot fathom that Jesus can forgive sins. Jesus uses evoking as a motivational interviewing technique by using the motivation of the teachers of the law and using it to educate them (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). Mark 2:8-12, “immediately Jesus knew in His spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things?  Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’  He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all”. After Jesus healed the paralyzed man, the people were praising Him suggesting their contemplation or preparation stages, depending on where they were prior to the healing of the paralyzed man. Mark 2:12, this amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”.

Jesus continued His works and has dinner with tax collectors and sinners, but is questioned by the teachers of the law, also known as Pharisees. Mark 2:16, “When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”. The teachers of law are lacking trust in the works of Jesus which suggests they are in pre-contemplation stage as they question His action. Jesus uses focusing as a motivational interviewing technique as Jesus focuses on His agenda for change and salvation. Mark 2:17, “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”. Jesus expressed that His focus is to help those who need help as it is His direction toward overall change.

Mark 3

In Mark 3, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, but there were people in pre-contemplation stage waiting to accuse Jesus. Mark 3:2, “some of them were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, so they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath”. The people waiting to accuse Jesus are trying to find fault in His words and His works. However, Jesus using evoking as a motivational interviewing technique as He elicits their own motivation which allowed them to have their thoughts and beliefs, but directs them with a simple question; Mark 3:4, “Jesus asked them, ‘Which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ “But they remained silent”.

People from different geographical locations in Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon (Mark 3:8) went to Galilee to see Jesus. These people are in contemplation and/or preparation stage. Those in contemplation stage are the ones who have come to Jesus to see if what they have heard is true and those in preparation stage are the ones who are ready to start preparing for change in their lives.

In Mark 3:13, Jesus went to the mountainside and those who followed Him are in preparation stage as they are ready to follow His direction and prepare for action. Jesus appointed His twelve Disciples.

Jesus is accused by His family as they said, “He is out of his mind” (Mark 3:21), suggesting His family to be in pre-contemplation as they do not express their faith, they doubt His actions, and believe He has lost his mind. The teachers of the law also accused Jesus of being “possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons” (Mark 3:22) suggesting their pre-contemplation stage due to their disbelief and doubt. In Mark 3:23-29, Jesus used focusing and evoking as motivational interviewing techniques as “Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: ‘How can Satan drive out Satan?  If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.  If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter,  but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.’”. Jesus focused on the change that cannot happen when a house is divided against itself and used evoking to determine where they are wrong (Miller & Rollnick, 2013).

Mark 4

In Mark 4:1-33, Jesus acknowledged the resistance of the people and explained His logic using parables about a sower, the growing seed, and the mustard seed. Jesus used planning as a motivational interviewing method as He expressed solutions through actions that strengthen change (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). Jesus allowed the disciples to seek their own knowledge to gain their own understanding using the planning method. This allowed the listeners to move from pre-contemplation to contemplation and/or preparation stage, depending on their level of understanding of the parables. Jesus focused on sharing the message and the metaphors of the parables are symbolic for the level of faith and how you hear and apply the word of God.

In Mark 4:35, Jesus takes the Disciples into the water on a boat leaving the crowd behind, when “waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped” (Mark 4:37). Mark 4:38, “Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion” as Jesus did not express disbelief or fear, but instead maintaining His word and His works through the maintenance stage as He is stern laying on a cushion while waves swamp the boat in the middle of a body of open water. The Disciples terrified of drowning wake Jesus up and state, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” (Mark 4:38). The Disciples went from action stage to contemplation stage as their fear of drowning suggests their lack of faith and disbelief. Mark 4:39, “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’. Then the wind died down and it was completely calm”. Jesus expressed the action stage by physically showing the Disciples that His word is His work. Through Jesus’ action, He used evoking by stating to the Disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). With His motivation interviewing technique, the Disciples went from contemplation back to preparation as they tell each other, ““Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”. The Disciples acknowledged Jesus’ actions and were ready to prepare for their own action, thus preparation stage. (Mark 4:41).

Mark 5

In Mark 5: 1-20, Jesus continued in action stage as He delivered a man of many demons, named Legion and the demons entered into a herd of pigs. The demon-possessed man went to tell the ten cities to tell of Jesus’ works, suggesting this man to be in action stage as this man tells the cities what the “Lord has done for [him], and how He has had mercy on [him]”, (Mark 5:19) just as Jesus told him.

In Mark 5: 22-24, Jairus, a synagogue leader, came to Jesus and fell at His feet. The falling to the feet suggests Jairus believes in Jesus and faith in Him which further suggests Jairus is in action stage. Mark 5:23, Jairus asked Jesus, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” Jesus carries on His actions and went with Jairus (Mark 5:24).

In Mark 5:27-29, offers a view of the process of change through the lens of faith. The woman with the issue of blood “heard” Jesus was coming and prepared herself to get to where he was gathering. She went into preparation because she positioned herself behind Jesus in an attempt to make a thought-out attempt to change. She then immediately goes into action when she reached out and touched the hem of his garment. Mark 5:34, Jesus represented maintenance stage as He responded to her and said “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Jesus expressed maintenance because He maintained His actions of healing simply through the expressed faith and belief this woman had with Jesus. Jesus has expressed through action that faith heals and has shown his works to prove He is Lord and maintains his word.

In Mark 5:35, “while Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’”. The people having doubts that Jesus is Lord and having lack of faith express pre-contemplation on what the Lord is capable of. Jesus used evoking as a motivation interviewing method as He educates them and shows through action what they are doing wrong (Miller & Rollnick, 2013).

Jesus goes into the home of Jairus with Peter, James, and John and raised Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37-42). The people appeared to be in pre-contemplation stage as they laughed at him, not believing in Lord and His word (Mark 5:40).

Mark 6

In Mark 6, Jesus used an empathetic approach as He listened to the people in the synagogue. The people in the synagogue appeared to be in pre-contemplation stage because they were offended by Jesus and his teachings and were not considering change. Jesus listened and “was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mark 6:6), but He expressed empathy and begins to teach the people who gathered.

In Mark 6:8-11, Jesus sent out the Disciples two by two with strict instructions, suggesting that Jesus used the motivational interviewing technique of planning as Jesus “reaches a threshold of readiness” (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). The Disciples without question went out to preach about repentance, casting out demons, and healed many people (Mark 6: 12-13).

In Mark 6:34, Jesus used compassion and taught them many things. In Mark 6:35-36, the Disciples ask Jesus to send the people away to the country side so that they may rest and eat, but Jesus used evoking skills eliciting the Disciples own motivation and stated, “You give them something to eat”. The Disciples up to this point in the chapter were in action stage, but go back to contemplation stage when they look at each other and state, “That would take more than half a year’s wages! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?” (Mark 6:37). The Disciples appeared to have doubt by questioning Jesus’ word. Jesus replied with “how many loafs do you have”; “go and see” (Mark 6:38). Jesus focused on the agenda of change, by showing the Disciples direction by redirecting the Disciples’ way of thinking and behaving (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). The Disciples looked and found that they had five loafs of bread and two fish, but five thousand people to feed and they expressed a disbelief, suggesting pre-contemplation (Mark 6:38). In Mark 6:39-44, Jesus used focusing as He was focused on the broader goal for change looked up into the heavens reaching a resolution, breaking the five loafs and two fish feeding five thousand people (Miller & Rollnick, 2013).

In Mark 6:49-50, Jesus walks on water, but the Disciples appeared terrified as they thought it was a ghost, again suggesting contemplation stage because the Disciples had doubt.

Mark 7

The people are weighing healthy behavior in the prospective of His word and works and they are developing awareness, suggesting the people transforming their pre-contemplative state to contemplation. People identified that their behavior could be a challenge, but they are looking more at the benefits of change and of switching their behavior.

People start to make some changes in their attitudes and beliefs, and they are open to understand different perspectives of the facts. They are ready to take action towards changing their behavior. They are more confident that changing their behavior could lead to a healthier life. Mark 7:31-36 describes the budding faith of a deaf man and his friends; "There some people brought to him a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him.  After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue.  He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, ‘Ephphatha!’ (which means ‘Be opened!’).  At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly.” The man was deaf and mostly mute, and those who brought him were in the preparation and action stages, as both willingly came to Jesus believing in Him and knowing Jesus could heal him.

In Mark 7:37, “People were overwhelmed with amazement. ‘He has done everything well,’ they said. ‘He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak’”. Even though people could recognize that Jesus was the Messiah, they were still astonished witnessing all His miracles. They were still uncertain about changing their beliefs and behaviors, but were in belief of Jesus as Lord, suggesting preparation stage.

Mark 8

In Mark 8:1-3, Jesus commented that the large crowd that had gathered for three days to hear him would need food for their travels home.  The Disciples, who seemed either to have forgotten Jesus’ miraculous feeding of 5,000, described in Mark 6, or considered the possibility of another mass feeding to be more absurd suggesting their pre-contemplation stage, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them?” The disciples many times answered in a pre-contemplative form, confused by Jesus’ words. When Jesus debriefed the disciples after the feeding, he warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees, but the disciples were unaware of the switch in direction of Jesus’ imminent message, and self-consciously believed that their earlier behavior had triggered Jesus’ question.

In Mark 8:16, “They discussed this with one another and said, ‘It is because we have no bread.” The disciples were utterly unaware of the power of God; yet, Jesus was not only involving the Disciples, Jesus was focused on a behavioral change from the Disciples. In Mark 8:17-19, Jesus stated, “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”. The Disciples appeared to be having a difficult time with their faith as their doubt clouds their judgment. However, Jesus is focused and used multiple motivation interviewing methods of focusing and evoking as Jesus clarifies direction for the Disciples (Miller & Rollnick, 2013).

In Mark 8:29, Peter shows his action stage as he proclaims Jesus as the Messiah; Jesus asked, “‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah’”. Peter is not only seeing Jesus as His leader, but believes He is the Son of God, the Messiah. The other Disciples and people hear this change from Peter and they intend to continue moving forward with that behavior change. People started to believe in Jesus and showed their readiness for a faith change with an active decision to trust in Jesus. Jesus helped and supported the Disciples and others by giving them direction and challenges, with hope for a meaningful life and eternity in Heaven.

Mark 9

In Mark 9, 2:12, Jesus took Peter, James, and John and was transfigured. In Mark 9:14-29, Jesus heals a boy that is possessed by an impure spirit experiencing epileptic symptoms when the Disciples could not. Jesus tells the Disciples who are in contemplation and preparation stage due to their disbelief, ““You unbelieving generation,” “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me” (Mark 9:19). Jesus is engaging the Disciples and the father of the boy by collaborating on mutually negotiated task between Jesus and the Disciples to reach the overall goal of change (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). The father of the boy is in preparation stage as he goes to Jesus asking for His help in casting out the impure spirit and stated, “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). The father is in preparation stage because he wants to belief, but still appeared to have some doubt as the father of the boy stated “if you can”. Jesus responded to the father’s ‘if you can statement’ with by stating, “Everything is possible for one who believes” (Mark 9:23). Mark 9:24, the father immediately exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”. The father’s remarkable exclamation of both faith and vulnerability shown in this passage illustrates both preparation and action, a combination that most readers with introspection would relate to.

Mark 10

In Mark 10:13, people were “bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them”. The people who brought their children for blessings are in action stage as they believe that their children can be blessed by the hands of Jesus. However, the Disciples displayed an ambivalent act of pre-contemplation by rebuking the children. Jesus used a motivational interviewing method of evoking by identifying the problem and confidently expressing the change that they are aiming for and its important throughout all people, including children. In Mark 10:14-16, “when Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And He took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them”. Jesus affirmed the crowd and the little children with His word and Hands.

In Mark 10:35-37, James and John ask a request of Jesus by asking Him if one could sit on the right and the other on the left in His glory. Although Jesus did not grant them this position as it was not for Jesus to grant, their attempt of being on the right and on the left of Jesus expressed an action stage of change as they were willing to be and do whatever necessary in the name of Jesus. Jesus continued to prepare the ministry through the motivational interviewing method of focusing through principles of good practice (Miller & Rollnick, 2013).

In Mark 10:46-52, Jesus continued His actions and heals Bartimaeus from blindness. Bartimaeus’ persistence in shouting out Jesus’ name captured Jesus’ attention and was seen as faith standing out from the crowd of people who were rebuking this man to stay quiet. Due to Bartimaeus action of shouting, Jesus healed him giving him and stated, “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” (Mark 10:52).

Mark 11

In Mark 11, Jesus rode to Jerusalem where He is perceived to be the King that He is. When villagers saw or heard of Jesus coming, the spread their cloaks and branches on the road and shouting, “Hosanna!”, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”, “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”, “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” (Mark 11:9-10). The villagers are acknowledging Jesus as King and recognizing He is the Son of God, expressing an action stage.

In Mark 11:27-28, Jesus’ authority is questioned; “they arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. ‘By what authority are you doing these things?’ they asked. ‘And who gave you authority to do this?’”. The chief priest, the teachers of the law, and the elders express a pre-contemplative state of mind as they do not believe that Jesus has authority due to their disbelief, doubt, and questioning of His authority. Jesus used the motivational interviewing method of focusing by changing their focused direction and pointing out their practice of beheading John the Baptist. Mark 11:29-30, “Jesus replied, ‘I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.  John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!’”.

Mark 12

In Mark 12:28-34, Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment, of which Jesus replied, “ ‘The most important one is this: [Phrase I] Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [Phrase II] The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31). Jesus used the motivational interviewing method of focusing by skillfully mapping out and incorporating all of the Ten Commandments in two phrases (Miller & Rollnick, 2013).

10 Commandments – (NIV)

You shall have no other gods before me. [Phrase I]

You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything. [Phrase I]

You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God. [Phrase I]

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. [Phrase I and Phrase II]

Honor your father and your mother. [Phrase II]

You shall not murder. [Phrase II]

You shall not commit adultery. [Phrase II]

You shall not steal. [Phrase II]

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. [Phrase II]

You shall not covet. [Phrase II]

(Deuteronomy 5:1-21)

Jesus elicits the principles of good practice and prioritized the focus of what people needed and wanted most (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). Similarly, Jesus used autonomy-supportive language through his selected words and tone as he spoke with the one teacher of law, which worked in changing the teacher of law’s perspective and changing from contemplations stage to preparation stage.

In Mark 12:32-33, the teacher of the law acknowledged what Jesus said to be true and stated, “ ‘Well said, teacher,’ the man replied. ‘You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.’”. Jesus was not only engaging but focusing this individual by using direct dialogue. At the end of this dialogue Jesus stated, “You are not far from the kingdom of God”, acknowledging his preparation stage (Mark 12:28-34).

Mark 13

In Mark 13, Jesus foresees the end coming closer and conveys that to His Disciples. In Mark 13:3-4, “Peter, James, John and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”. Peter, James, John, and Andrew are in maintenance stage as not only do they believe the words of Jesus that the end is near and the great buildings will fall, but they ask with knowing when will be date of this prophecy.

In Mark 13:5-37, Jesus used the motivational interviewing methods of evoking and planning as He increased change talk, envisioned the outcomes to come, evoked intention and commitment for change, reflects, and confirms the goal of change (Miller & Rollnick, 2013).

Mark 14

In Mark 14:1, “the chief priests and the teachers of the law were scheming to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him”, indicating their consistent stage of pre-contemplation. Likewise, in Mark 14:10, “Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve Disciples, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them”. Judas was a Disciple, which means he at some point was in preparation and action stages due to his belief and faith in Jesus. However, Judas’ faith decreased significantly when fear took over his belief of Jesus, enough to betray Him. Jesus continued his motivational interviewing method of planning as He envisioned future events and tests the water (Miller & Rollnick, 2013). Jesus stated, “’ It is one of the Twelve,’ He replied, ‘one who dips bread into the bowl with me.  The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born’”(Mark 14:20-21). Jesus took Passover with His Disciples.

Jesus prayed in agony in Gethsemane. Judas betrayed him to the chief priest. In Mark 14:53, Jesus is before the Sanhedrin, which consisted of the “high priest and all the chief priests, the elders, and the teachers of the law. The whole Sanhedrin were in pre-contemplative stage as they did not believe or want to believe that Jesus is the Lord, the Messiah, and the Son of God. The entire Sanhedrin work towards finding evidence against Jesus so that they could put Him to death, some claiming false testimony against Jesus, and others questioning Jesus being the Son of God (Mark 14:55-65). Jesus acknowledges their resistance to change and does not push back. Jesus meets them where they are at by engaging with the whole Sanhedrin. Jesus does this by actively listening as He listens to the speakers giving false testimony and questioning His authority, all awhile using the essence of empathy.

In Mark 14:66-72, Peter denied Jesus and remembers when Jesus envisioned him disowning Jesus. Peter broke down and wept (Mark 14: 72). Jesus’ previous motivational interviewing helped Peter go from preparation stage to action stage and later maintenance stage.

Mark 15

In Mark 15:1-15, Jesus was handed over to Pontius Pilate while the crowed of people shouted “crucify Him”. Along with the priests, elders, and teachers of the law, the crowd of people shouting were in pre-contemplation stage as they mocked Jesus and called Him a false prophet and proclaimed His death. Jesus continued his motivational interviewing method of engaging by listening to the people as He acknowledges their resistance to change.

In Mark 15:33-34, darkness fell and Jesus in agony cried out “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”), suggesting contemplation stage due to His pain and suffering. Jesus took his last breath.

Mark 16

In Mark 16:1, “when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James,and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body”. The women went to the tomb to anoint His body as they knew Jesus’ authority and He was deserved of a proper anointing, suggesting their maintenance stage of change. When they arrived at the tomb, the stone to the entrance was rolled away and man in white yelled, “Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen!’”(Mark 16:6).

Jesus arose and appeared to the Disciples as He said He would, suggesting Jesus’ maintenance stage and using the motivational interviewing method of planning by stating, “Go and preach the gospel” using the Disciples own readiness and motivation and start change (Mark 16:6-8). Jesus sent out through the Disciples the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation suggesting that the Disciples who carried on Jesus’ work maintained their maintenance stage.


Throughout the Book of Mark, Jesus used a lot of change talk through the modern conceptual work of motivational interviewing while addressing different stages of change. Jesus recognized the difference in ambivalence and resistance as well as those individuals with faith and used MI skills to address them accordingly.












Deuteronomy. New International Version. Bible.

Mark. New International Version. Bible.

Miller, W. R., & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational interviewing: helping people change. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Prochaska, J. O., & DiClemente, C. C. (1982). Transtheoretical therapy: toward a more integrative model of change. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice, 19(3).






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