Studies in the Gospel of Mark- Chapter 1
I. The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
A. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'” John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. (Mark 1:1-13)
B. Some theologians have suggested that out of the Gospel writers there is one person that is blaringly missing…Simon Peter. Mark was evidently related to Barnabas (Colossians 4:10). He was the source of division for Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15:37-39) and had become a spiritual son of Peter (I Peter 5:13). Anyway it is believed that Mark received much of the information for the Gospel from Peter. In addition church tradition believes Mark was one of the 70 disciples and He became the leader of the church in Africa.
C. The Gospel of Mark like the other 3 deals with the origin of Jesus the Christ. Matthew starts with His genealogy from King David. Luke goes all the way back to Adam. John goes all the way back before time began. Mark simply declares He is the Son of God! Many times in life, all we need to do is to state the Truth not explain the Truth.
D. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God — By the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ here is evidently meant the blessed Story which our Evangelist is about to tell of His Life, Ministry, Death, Resurrection, and Glorification, and of the begun Gathering of Believers in His Name. The abruptness with which he announces his subject, and the energetic brevity with which, passing by all preceding events, he hastens over the ministry of John and records the Baptism and Temptation of Jesus – as if impatient to come to the Public Life of the Lord of glory – have often been noticed as characteristic of this Gospel – a Gospel whose direct, practical, and singularly vivid setting imparts to it a preciousness peculiar to itself. What strikes every one is, that though the briefest of all the Gospels, this is in some of the principal scenes of our Lord’s history the fullest. But what is not so obvious is, that wherever the finer and subtler feelings of humanity, or the deeper and more peculiar hues of our Lord’s character were brought out, these, though they should be lightly passed over by all the other Evangelists, are sure to be found here, and in touches of such quiet delicacy and power, that though scarce observed by the cursory reader, they leave indelible impressions upon all the thoughtful and furnish a key to much that is in the other Gospels. These few opening words of the Second Gospel are enough to show, that though it was the purpose of this Evangelist to record chiefly the outward and palpable facts of our Lord’s public life, he recognized in Him, in common with the Fourth Evangelist, the glory of the Only-begotten of the Father.
E. Mark identifies the fact that the Gospel has been declared from the beginning (Although the Gospel is realized in Jesus Christ), he references the prophet Isaiah. Prophetic history and proclamation become the framework for every move of God. “as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. (Romans 4:17) Mark quotes from Isaiah 40:3.
F. It says that John appeared. The proper sense of the passage is that He seemed to come from obscurity into the light of people’s consciousness on a mission preaching repentance from sin and being cleansed through baptism. The fact that John baptized in the Jordan river the same river that the children of Israel had to cross over to enter into the Promised Land, the same river in which the Ark of the Covenant went into and stood (Joshua chapter 3), and the same river in which the Lamb of God entered to baptized to begin the Gospel Age is significant. John was sent to prepare people for the Promise of God! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and baptizes not with water, but with the Holy Spirit.
G. At Jesus’ baptism the heavens were torn or ripped open and the Holy Spirit descended. A voice from heaven declared Jesus’ true identity. He was not the son of Joseph, though He was. He was not a carpenter, though He was. He was not from Nazareth, though He was. He was and is the Son of God.
II. The First Disciples
A. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” (Mark 1:14-27)
B. Here we see the first disciples called. Andrew, Simon Peter, James, and John. All of these guys were fisherman. We know from other Gospel accounts that probably these guys were regulars to John the Baptist’s meetings. Some had heard John declare that Jesus was the Lamb of God. How will we know unless we hear? God has chosen the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe (I Corinthians 1:21)
C. These two sets of brothers were doing things that are very common for all fisherman, but at the moment Jesus called them the thing they were doing was indicative of their ministry later on. Both Andrew and Peter were known for their evangelistic ministry (Casting the Net), and at least John (James was beheaded by Herod early in the history of the church) was known for his restorative ministry to the falling away church at the end of the 1st century (Mending the Net).
D. When Jesus called them the sense of Mark is that they immediately began the ministry of spreading the Gospel message. It started in synagogues and we find out at the end of the chapter it quickly spread to the great open expanses that could house the multitudes.
E. The distinctive characteristics of Jesus’ ministry is that He preached with authority (He knew what He was talking about), He cast out demons (forces of darkness recognized Him), and He healed all manner of sickness and disease (no human malady was too strong for Him).
III. Man of Fellowship, Man of Prayer, Man of Compassion
A. And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee. And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter. (Mark 1:28-45)
A. As Jesus’ fame spread, Jesus was committed to spending time with those closest to Him. He would stay in their homes and their relative’s homes. Even within that context many people were healed and the bound were delivered. We need to allow the Lord to move through us in the everyday movements of life.
B. In addition to the spending of time with the brethren, He would slip away from the crowds to spend alone time with His Father.
C. Jesus was moved by compassion and love for the people. He reveals to us the Father’s heart toward us in that in our need not only is he able, but willing to cleanse and heal us.