Mark 1:1 MKJV The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God:
When Bible translators go to a people who have never had the Scriptures in their own language, they usually begin by translating the Gospel of Mark. Mark is the most translated book in all the world. One reason is because it is the shortest Gospel; but the other reason is because this Gospel was written for people unfamiliar with first century Judaism. Mark wrote it for the Romans.
He does not begin with a genealogy of our Lord, like St Matthew, or with the history of the Infancy, as St Luke, or with the doctrine of the Word of God, as St John.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God: Every great story has a beginning, and Mark takes us to his beginning of the gospel. The ancient Greek word for gospel means “good news,” so this book is the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is the good news concerning Jesus.
Every word in Mark’s description of Jesus is important. First, this is the good news of Jesus, a genuine, historical person who walked this earth like other men. It is the good news of the Christ (which simply means “Messiah”), the promised, anointed Savior of men. And it is the good news of the Son of God.
Do you believe that Jesus is the “Son of God”?
What is the “good” in the news?
Mark 1:2 MKJV as it is written in the Prophets, “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who shall prepare Your way before You.
As it is written in the Old Testament: The first thing Mark will say about the ministry of John the Baptist is that it was prophesied in the Old Testament (Mal_3:1 and Isa_40:3). Those passages predict this forerunner who would prepare the way of the Lord, this forerunner whom God would call My messenger.
My messenger is important, because this is the first authentically prophetic voice to Israel (with the slight exceptions of Anna and Simeon in Luke 2) for 300 years. Some thought that God stopped sending prophets because He had nothing more to say, but John shows this wasn’t the case at all.
behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. John the Baptist is here called a messenger, and the message he was sent and came with, was of the greatest moment and importance, and required the closest attention to it; wherefore this passage is introduced with a “behold!” signifying that something momentous, and what should be strictly regarded, was about to be delivered.
Just as John was given the task to prepare the way for Jesus’ first Advent, we are likewise given the task to prepare the way for his Second Advent (Mal. 4:5,6)—Do you believe it? Are you doing it?
Mark 1:3 MKJV The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”
Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight: The passage Mark quotes from (Isa_40:3) has in mind building up a great road for the arrival of a majestic king. The idea is to fill in the holes, and knock down the hills that are in the way.
The idea of preparing the way of the LORD is a word picture, because the real preparation must take place in our hearts. Building a road is very much like the preparation God must do in our hearts. They are both expensive, they both must deal with many different problems and environments, and they both take an expert engineer.
Jesus was the coming Messiah and King, and John the Baptist’s was the one crying in the wilderness, and through his message of repentance, he worked to prepare the way of the LORD. We often fail to appreciate how important the preparing work of the LORD is. Any great work of God begins with great preparation. John wonderfully fulfilled this important ministry. “John was God’s bulldozer to build that highway.” (Steadman)
For a triumphal entry to his kingdom upon the earth. “An highway shall be there.” (Isa_35:8)
The Church in the flesh, the greater Elijah, will be equally unsuccessful with that of the lesser antitype of Elijah, John the Baptizer.
What are you doing to “prepare” the way of the Lord in your own hearts?
Are you knocking down hills and filling holes in the road to the Lord, so that others don’t stumble?
Mark 1:4 MKJV John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
Mark 1:5 MKJV And all the land of Judea, and those of Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
John was six months older than Jesus, so he began his ministry of preaching six months before Jesus’ baptism. John’s mission was pre-eminently that of a reprover and a reformer. His work at Jesus’ first advent foreshadowed the closing work of the Church at Jesus’ second advent.
John’s baptism was for Jews only, who were already in a covenant relationship with God and typically cleansed by their Atonement day sin-offerings. The preaching and baptism of John were a special call to God’s covenanted people to repent of their sins and their failure as a nation, and as individuals to live up to their covenant. The greater John, the Church in the flesh, is to exhort as many as have ears to hear to repent of sin and reform their lives and return to a condition of righteousness of heart as in the day when they were first baptized.
Do you confess or own up to your sins, or try to justify wrong behavior?
Are you living up to your covenant with God?
If you answered no to any of the above questions—what are you going to do about it?
Mark 1:6 MKJV And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a leather girdle about his loin. And he ate locusts and wild honey.
Not of camel’s hair softened and dressed, which the Talmudists call “camel’s wool”; of which wool of camels and of hares which being spun to a thread, and wove, and made a garment of, they call, and we “camlet”; for this would have been too fine and soft for John to wear, which is denied of him, Mat_11:8 but either of a camel’s skin with the hair on it, such was the “rough garment”, or “garment of hair”, the prophets used to wear, Zec_13:4 or of camels hair not softened but undressed; and so was very coarse and rough, and which was suitable to the austerity of his life, and the roughness of his ministry. And it is to be observed he appeared in the same dress as Elijah or Elias did, 2Ki_1:8 in whose spirit and power he came, and whose name he bore, Luk_1:17.
leather girdle about his loin; and such an one also Elijah was girt with, 2Ki_1:8 and which added to the roughness of his garment, though it shows he was prepared and in a readiness to do the work he was sent about.
locusts and wild honey; by the “locusts” some have thought are meant a sort of fish called “crabs”, which John found upon the banks of Jordan, and lived upon; others, that a sort of wild fruit, or the tops of trees and plants he found in the wilderness and fed on, are designed; but the truth is, these were a sort of creatures “called locusts”, and which by the ceremonial law were lawful to be eaten, see Lev_11:22.
“all that have four feet and four wings, and whose thighs and wings cover the greatest part of their body, and whose name is “a locust.””
And wild honey: this was honey of bees, which were not kept at home, but such as were in the woods and fields; of this sort was that which Jonathan found, and eat of, 1Sa_14:25.
Again as in the previous verse, John was not well dressed and didn’t have polished manners—he was who you saw and made no pretenses. There is none greater among men (Matt 11:11, Luke 7:28) than John the Baptist, and the least in the Kingdom is greater than John—How do you compare to John’s character?
What things in John’s character do you see, that you do not see in your own?
What are you doing to fix these character issues?
Mark 1:7 MKJV And he proclaimed, saying, There is One coming after me who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down to loosen.
John was six months older than Jesus and thus started his ministry also when he turned thirty. This was John’s message for six months. He prepared the way for the Messiah.
The office of bearing and unfastening the sandals of great personages fell to the meanest (the lowest) slaves. To stoop down] This expression is peculiar to St Mark. It is the first of those minute details which we shall find in such abundance in his Gospel.
the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose; expressing the great veneration he had for him, and the great sense he had of his own unworthiness, to be concerned in the lowest and meanest service of life for him; and that he was far from being worthy of the high honour done him, to be his messenger and forerunner;
Do we have the humility of John (who was the greatest among men)?
Are we preaching Jesus?
Do we truly feel that we are unworthy to bend down and loosen Jesus’ sandals?
Does our lives show that?
Mark 1:8 MKJV I indeed have baptized you in water, but He shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
This was spoken to the baptized persons, partly to take off their dependence upon him and his baptism; and partly to direct their views to Christ, from whom the gifts and graces of the Spirit are alone to be had.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit: John recognized his baptism was only a prelude to what Jesus would bring. The Messiah would bring an immersion in the Holy Spirit that was greater than the immersion in water as a demonstration of repentance.
John’s baptism could demonstrate repentance, but it could not truly cleanse one from sin, nor could it impart the Holy Spirit in the way Jesus could after His work on the cross was completed for us.
Have you been baptized with John’s baptism or Christ’s?
Was your baptism from devotion in your heart or were you merely getting wet?
Mark 1:9 MKJV And it happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
Why was Jesus baptized? It was not because He needed cleansing from sin, because Jesus was sinless, as John himself understood (Mat_3:14). Instead, Jesus was baptized in keeping with His entire mission on earth: to fulfill all righteousness, this typified his entire consecration or devotion to do the will of God even unto death.
in those days] i. e. towards the close of the year a. u. c. 781, or a. d. 28, when our Lord was thirty years of age (Luk_3:23), the time appointed for the Levite’s entrance on “the service of the ministry” (Num_4:3).
came from Nazareth] where He had grown up in peaceful seclusion, “increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man” (Luk_2:52), in a town unknown and unnamed in the Old Testament, situated among the hills which constitute the southern ridges of Lebanon, just before they sink down into the Plain of Esdraelon.
baptized by John in Jordan] Either (i) at the ancient ford near Succoth, which some have identified with the Bethabara or rather Bethany of St John (Joh_1:28); or (ii) at a more southern ford not far from Jericho, whither the multitudes that flocked from Judæa and Jerusalem (Mar_1:5) would have found a speedier and more convenient access. From St Matthew we learn that the purport of the Savior’s journey from Galilee was that He might be thus baptized (Mat_3:13); that His Forerunner instantly recognized His superior and stainless nature; that he tried earnestly to prevent Him; that his objections were overruled by the reply that thus it became Him to “fulfil all righteousness,” i. e. every requirement of the Law. St Luke tells us that the Baptism of our Lord did not take place till “all the people had been baptized” (Luk_3:21).
Do you understand baptism as a covenant unto death?
Mark 1:10 MKJV And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him.
Mark 1:11 MKJV And there came a voice from Heaven, saying, You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: When this voice of God the Father spoke from heaven, John knew that Jesus was not just another man being baptized. He knew Jesus was the perfect (in whom I am well pleased) Son of God, identifying with sinful man.
i. What a strange scene! You have the humble beginnings:
• Jesus: A common, unremarkable name.
• From Nazareth: An unremarkable, despised village.
• Of Galilee: The “unspiritual” region, not the “Bible belt” of the area at that time.
• Was baptized: Identifying with sinful man.
• In the Jordan: An unremarkable – often even unpleasant – river. “Early rabbinic tradition explicitly disqualifies the River Jordan for purification, [according to] The Mishnah, Parah VIII. 10.” (Lane)
ii. Then you have the great glory:
• The heavens parting: Heaven opened wide for this. The ancient Greek for this phrase is strong. It has the idea that sky was torn in two, “being rent asunder, a sudden event.” (Bruce)
• The Spirit descending: The Spirit of God was present, and in some way His presence was discernable.
• Like a dove: Luk_3:22 puts it like this: And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him. In some way the Spirit was present, and “flew down” on Jesus like a dove. The emblem of peace and purity, representing the fullness of Jehovah’s Spirit of love in Jesus. Not violently like lightning, but gently like a dove.
• A voice came from heaven: It’s rare in the Bible when we read that God speaks audibly from heaven, but this is one of those glorious occasions.
• You are My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased: What could be more glorious than to have God the Father praise and affirm you publicly?
iii. God loves to display His glory in the midst of humble surroundings.
So far in the Gospel of Mark we see four witnesses, each testifying to the identity of Jesus. What more evidence do we need?
• Mark said Jesus is the Son of God (Mar_1:1).
• The prophets said Jesus is LORD (Mar_1:2-3).
• John the Baptist said Jesus was the One after me who is mightier than I (Mar_1:7-8).
• God the Father said Jesus is the Beloved Son of God (Mar_1:10-11).
Do we fully grasp who Jesus is?
Do we fully grasp the gift that is offered to us?
Mark 1:12 MKJV And immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.
And immediately,…. As soon as he was baptized, and this testimony had been given of his divine sonship, the very selfsame day,
the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness: into a more remote and desolate part of it; for it was in the wilderness John was baptizing and preaching, when Christ came to him, and was by him; and it was the same holy Spirit that descended on Jesus at his baptism, which remained with him; by whose impulse he was moved, though not against his will, to go into, this desert and forlorn place. For this was not the evil spirit Satan, by whom he was tempted; for Matthew expressly says, that he was “led up of the Spirit–to be tempted by the devil”, Mat_4:1, where the devil that tempted him, is manifestly distinguished from the holy Spirit by whom he was led, and the same Spirit is meant here, as there. This Spirit was now in Jesus, because of his consecration (dedication) to God expressed by water immersion.
Into the wilderness — Away from every friend and acquaintance and distracting thing. That he might study the divine Word, treasured in a perfect memory, and now fully intelligible by the power of the Spirit. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.” (1Co_2:14)
Retirement from the world is an opportunity of more free converse with God, and therefore must sometimes be chosen, for a while, even by those that are called to the greatest business.
Do you spend alone time with God?
Mark 1:13 MKJV And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan. And He was with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered to Him.
And was with the wild beasts – This is added to show the desolation and danger of his dwelling there. In this place, surrounded by such dangers, the temptations offered by Satan were the stronger. Amid want and perils, Satan might suppose that he would be more easily seduced from God. But he trusted in his Father, and was alike delivered from dangers, from the wild beasts, and from the power of temptation, thus teaching us what to do in the day of danger and trial.
Mark observes this circumstance of his being in the wilderness – that he was with the wild beasts. It was an instance of his Father’s care of him, that he was preserved from being torn in pieces by the wild beasts, which encouraged him the more that his Father would provide for him when he was hungry. From Luk_4:2 we learn that in those days he did eat nothing. When Mark says, therefore, that the angels ministered to him, it means after the days of temptation had expired, as is said by Mat_4:11.
Special protections are earnests of seasonable supplies. It was likewise an intimation to him of the inhumanity of the men of that generation, whom he was to live among – no better than wild beasts in the wilderness, nay abundantly worse. In that wilderness, The evil spirits were busy with him; he was tempted of Satan; not by any inward injections (the prince of this world had nothing in him to fasten upon), but by outward solicitations. Thoughtfulness often gives advantages to the tempter, therefore two are better than one. Christ himself was tempted, not only to teach us, that it is no sin to be tempted, but to direct us whither to go for help when we are tempted, even to him, our advocate, that suffered, being tempted; that he might sympathize with us when we are tempted.
From the moment of our positive resistance of temptation and positive standing up for the Lord, we acquire great helps and assistances by unseen powers.
There is a saying, “We can’t stop the birds from flying overhead, but we don’t have to let them nest.”
When temptations come, do you shoo them away with a “Thus saith the Lord”? or do you let them nest?
What are some of the temptations you have allowed to nest?
How hard afterward is it to shoo those temptations away once you have allowed them to nest?
Mark 1:14 MKJV And after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom of God,
Now — Estimated at six months to a year after his baptism, John was imprisoned by Herod, Mat_14:3. In the castle of Macherus, by Herod, for reproving him for taking his brother Philip’s wife:
This commences the first subject of the Lord’s ministry, which occupies in Mark only six verses.
Galilee was the most northern and the most populous of the three provinces, into which the Romans had divided Palestine (The name Rome gave to Israel in the 2nd century. Judea was renamed Palaestina in an attempt to minimize Jewish identification with the land of Israel).
Jesus spent most of His time in the region of Galilee, usually only going up to Jerusalem for the appointed feasts. Galilee was a large, populated area north of Judea and Jerusalem, where Jews and Gentiles lived together, though usually in their own distinct cities.
Galilee was not a small, backwater region. According to the ancient Jewish historian Josephus, Galilee was an area of about 60 by 30 miles and had 204 villages, with none less than 15,000 people. This means there were more than 3 million people in the extended region.
Jesus came into Galilee. See Mat_4:12. Not from fear of Herod, but on account of the opposition of the Pharisees, and also to reach the Galilean masses who had been impressed by the preaching of John.
Preaching the Gospel of the kingdom of God: the good news and glad tidings of the kingdom of the Messiah, or Gospel dispensation; which lies not in worldly pomp and splendour, in outward observances, in legal rites and ceremonies, but in righteousness, peace, and joy; in peace and pardon by the blood of Christ, in justification by his righteousness, and in free and full salvation by him.
In regards to John being imprisoned: The silencing of Christ’s ministers shall not be the suppressing of Christ’s gospel; if some be laid aside, others shall be raised up, perhaps mightier than they, to carry on the same work.
Have you suffered for standing up for what is right?
Do you know of others who have suffered as well? How does that affect you?
Are you carrying on the Lord’s work?
Mark 1:15 MKJV and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God draws near. Repent, and believe the gospel.
Jesus was a preacher, and He brought the message of God’s kingdom on earth, though not in the manner that was popularly expected or desired. Most people wanted a kingdom, but a political kingdom that would replace the oppressive occupation of the Romans.
Contrary to the expectations of most people in His day, Jesus brought a kingdom of love, not subjugation; of grace, not law; of humility, not pride; for all men, not only the Jews; to be received voluntarily by man, not imposed by force.
The Gospel of Mark – and the rest of this chapter – will stress the work of Jesus, and His wonderful miracles. But with this opening statement, Mark reminds us that the focus of Jesus’ ministry was preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. Jesus was a preacher who did wonderful miracles, not a miracle worker who sometimes preached.
Saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand”: When Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of God, He wanted people to know that it was near – as close as your hand. It wasn’t as distant or as dreamy as they had imagined. Now was the time for them to encounter the kingdom of God.
The time is fulfilled: There are two ancient Greek words that can be translated time. One is chronos, meaning simple chronological time. The other is kairos, which means “the strategic opportunity, the decisive time.” Jesus used this second word when He said, “the time is fulfilled.” His idea was, “The strategic time for the kingdom of God is now. Now is your time of opportunity. Don’t let it pass you by.”
Saying . . . “Repent”: When Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of God, He wanted people to know what entering that kingdom was like. They could not enter the kingdom going the same way they had been going. They had to change their direction to experience the kingdom of God.
Some people think that repentance is mostly about feelings, especially feeling sorry for your sin. It is wonderful to feel sorry about your sin, but repent isn’t a “feelings” word. It is an action word. Jesus told us to make a change of the mind, not merely to feel sorry for what we have done. Repentance speaks of a change of direction, not a sorrow in the heart.
Is repentance something we must do before we can come to God? Yes and no; repentance does not describe something we must do before we come to God, it describes what coming to God is like. If you are in New York, and I tell you to come to Los Angeles, I don’t really need to say “Leave New York and come to Los Angeles.” To come to Los Angeles is to leave New York, and if I haven’t left New York, I certainly haven’t come to Los Angeles. We can’t come to the kingdom of God unless we leave our sin and the self-life.
Saying . . . “Believe”: When Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom of God, He wanted people to know what it was like to live in the kingdom. The kingdom Jesus preached was not just about a moral renewal. It was about trusting God, taking Him at His word, and living a relationship of dependence on Him.
The ancient Greek word Jesus used for believe (pisteuo) means much more than knowledge or agreement in the mind. It speaks of a relationship of trust and dependence.
“There are many people who believe the Gospel, but they do not believe in it. It was an appeal not only to accept it as an intellectually accurate statement; but to rest in it, to repose in it. It was a call to let the heart find ease in it.” (Morgan)
We must not think either that reforming our lives will save us without trusting in the righteousness and grace of Christ, or that trusting in Christ will save us without the reformation of our hearts and lives. Christ hath joined these two together, and let no man think to put them asunder. They will mutually assist and befriend each other.
Note, God keeps time; when the time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand, for the vision is for an appointed time, which will be punctually observed, though it tarry past our time.
Thus the preaching of the gospel began, and thus it continues; still the call is, Repent, and believe, and live a life of repentance and a life of faith.
Have you repented? Is it an active repentance or passive?
Have you been called to be part of the body of Christ? Have you responded to that call?
Do you preach the Kingdom of God like Jesus did?
Do you know what the Kingdom of God is?
Mark 1:16 MKJV And walking along beside the sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.
Simon and Andrew — Though natives of Bethsaida, they evidently settled in Capernaum, perhaps because larger and more favorable to their business.
Casting a net — Our Lord called men who were not idlers. The Lord’s invitations have been chiefly to those in the humbler walks of life. However able they were as men, they lacked the polish or education which people were accustomed to expect in religious teachers. They were common men, without theological credentials or status in the world. Jesus met them as they labored like any common man. These disciples were chosen by Jesus not for who they were, but for what Jesus could do through them.
Passing by the sea of Galilee, Jesus finds two fishermen at their toil, and bids them follow Him. Both are men of decided and earnest character; one is to become the spokesman and leader of the Apostolic band, and the little which is recorded of the other indicates the same temperament, somewhat less developed. Our Lord now calls upon them to take a decided step. But here again we find traces of the same deliberate progression, the same absence of haste, as in His early preaching. He does not, as unthinking readers fancy, come upon two utter strangers, fascinate and arrest them in a moment, and sweep their lives into the vortex of His own. Andrew had already heard the Baptist proclaim the Lamb of God, had followed Jesus home, and had introduced his brother, to whom Jesus then gave the new name Cephas. Their faith had since been confirmed by miracles. The demands of our Lord may be trying, but they are never unreasonable, and the faith He claims is not a blind credulity. Joh_1:35 to Joh_4:54 describes their previous meeting.
Nor does He, even now, finally and entirely call them away from their occupation. Some time is still to elapse, and a sign, especially impressive to fishermen, the miraculous draught of fishes, is to burn into their minds a profound sense of their unworthiness, before the vocation now promised shall arrive. Then He will say, From henceforth ye shall catch men: now He says, I will prepare you for that future, I will make you to become fishers of men. So ungrounded is the suspicion of any confusion between the stories of the three steps by which they rose to their Apostleship.
When you spread the Good News, do you discriminate and avoid those who look more humble than you do?
Mark 1:17 MKJV And Jesus said to them, Come after Me and I will make you fishers of men.
And Jesus said unto them, come ye after me,…. Leave your worldly employments, and become my disciples. With this invitation, Jesus shows what Christianity is all about: following Jesus. At its root, Christianity is not about theological systems, rules, or even helping people – it is about following Jesus.
“Nevertheless it is true, by New Testament times, the phrase ‘to follow’ had added to itself an ethical aspect, for it is always the superior who walks ahead, and the inferior who follows: therefore, at the least, a rabbi-disciple relationship was implied.” (Cole)
I will make you become fishers of men: Jesus said He would make them fishers of men. If these men received something wonderful in following Jesus, it was only right – only good manners – for them to give it to others, and to “catch” men into the same kingdom of God. Jesus said, “I will make you become fishers of men.”
When Jesus called them to be fishers of men, He called them to do what He did. Was there ever a greater fisher of men than Jesus? But He wanted others to do the work He did. First these four, then twelve, then hundreds, then thousands and thousands upon thousands through the centuries.
Spiritual fishing, like natural fishing, requires energy, tact, proper bait, and that the fisherman keep himself out of sight. Fish are easily alarmed when they find that anyone wishes to take them.
Are you following Jesus?
Are you engaged in the spiritual fishing business?
Mark 1:18 MKJV And immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
Our Lord now calls upon them to take a decided step. He does not, as unthinking readers fancy, come upon two utter strangers, fascinate and arrest them in a moment, and sweep their lives into the vortex of His own. Andrew had already heard the Baptist proclaim the Lamb of God, had followed Jesus home, and had introduced his brother, to whom Jesus then gave the new name Cephas. Their faith had since been confirmed by miracles. The demands of our Lord may be trying, but they are never unreasonable, and the faith He claims is not a blind credulity.
The RESPONSETOTHECALL is deserving of our observation.
1. There was cheerful compliance. No objection, no hesitation, no condition, not even an inquiry; but willing, contented obedience to a summons felt to be authoritative and binding.
2. This compliance was immediate. So should all respond whom Christ invites to come after him. Not a moment should be lost in choosing a lot so honorable, so desirable, so happy.
3. It was self-sacrificing. They left their nets, their kindred, their occupation, readily giving up all in order that they might follow Jesus. It was a condition which the Master now and again imposed, to prove the sincerity of his people’s love, devotion, and zeal.
- Remember what is the vocation with which you are called. Let this be the acknowledged end you set before you—to be fishers of men.
2. For hearts of the gospel. Remember that Christ has called you and is calling you. The burden of his appeal is this—”Come ye after me!” And, when saved, seek that you may be the means of saving others.
3. For those who, hearing the voice of the Lord Christ, are disposed to obey his call. Bear in mind that he demands a complete surrender, that he will not be satisfied unless the heart is dedicated to him, unless, with the heart, all that we have is yielded to his service. You will, like the fishermen of Galilee, have something to give up in following Christ. Be prepared for this, and count the cost. But, for your own sake and for the sake of your salvation, let nothing hinder you from faith and consecration. “Count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Is there something you have not left behind that interferes with your devotion to God?
Are you going to abandon it or let it come between you and your calling?
Mark 1:19 MKJV And when He going farther from there a little, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets.
A little further on, He finds the two sons of Zebedee, and calls them also. John had almost certainly been the companion of Andrew when he followed Jesus home, and his brother had become the sharer of his hopes. And if there were any hesitation, the example of their comrades helped them to decide– so soon, so inevitably does each disciple begin to be a fisher of other men– and leaving their father, as we are gracefully told, not desolate, but with servants, they also follow Jesus.
Thus He asks, from each group, the sacrifice involved in following Him at an inconvenient time. The first are casting their nets and eager in their quest. The others are mending their nets, perhaps after some large draught had broken them. So Levi was sitting at the receipt of toll. Not one of the Twelve is recorded to have been called when idle.
Not yet are they told anything of thrones on which they are to sit and judge the tribes of Israel, or that their names shall be engraven on the foundations of the heavenly city besides being great on earth while the world stands. For them, the capture of men was less lucrative than that of fish, and less honorable, for they suffered the loss of all things and were made as the filth of the earth. To learn Christ’s art, to be made helpful in drawing souls to Him, following Jesus and catching men, this was enough to attract His first ministers; God grant that a time may never come when ministers for whom this is enough, shall fail. Where the spirit of self-devotion is absent how can the Spirit of Christ exist?
What were you doing when you heard the call from God?
Did you leave everything to follow the Lord, or are you still dragging if behind you?
Mark 1:20 MKJV And immediately He called them. And they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and went after Him.
But what a surprising call must it have been to those men; how unlooked for; and yet how powerful: instantly to leave all their earthly concerns and connections to follow Jesus. Christian! it is still the same in every instance where the claims of nature would thwart the calls of grace. Painful to flesh and blood, as numberless circumstances are sometimes found, the plucking out an eye, or cutting off an arm, are needful to be done if they stand in the way of CHRIST, See that scripture, Luk_14:26-27.
The “spirit of a sound mind” is to govern the Lord’s people in all of their affairs, both temporal and spiritual. The important thing decided at the moment and decided positively and permanently was that they accepted the Lord’s invitation to enter the Father’s service with him–fishing on a higher and grander scale, for men–gathering them into the Gospel net, with a view to their ultimate glorification as New Creatures in Christ and participants with him in the glory, honor, and immortality of his Kingdom soon to be established. Let us each remember the importance of a positive decision respecting our consecration to the Lord, our acceptance of service under him as our Master and Captain. Let us then as wisely as possible arrange life’s affairs so as to be without carefulness respecting earthly things that we may the more readily and more completely give all of our time and energy to the most important of all works, the service of God, tidings of great joy for all people.
However much we have heard of Jesus, however much we have rejoiced in the salvation which he died to secure for us, however much we have trusted in the merit of his sacrifice, we did not become his disciples until we had formally reached the point of giving our hearts, our lives, our wills to him–responding to his invitation, becoming followers of God as dear children under the guidance and instruction of our elder brother, Jesus. The opportunity does not come to all of us in just the same form that it presented itself to the four fishermen of our lesson, and yet there is a similarity. With many of us, as the Apostle explains, it is the Lord’s will that we should abide in the vocation in which we were when the message of grace first reached us. (I Cor. 7:20-22.) Not all are called to an open, public ministry, devoting all of time, talent, effort and interest to the Gospel message. The majority of the called the Lord evidently intends to instruct as his disciples while they are about their ordinary business, the duties and responsibilities of life. With these, however, it is necessary that there be a forsaking of boats and fishing tackle, etc., in the heart from the moment that a full consecration is made to the Lord. We cannot serve God and Mammon. We cannot have two objects in life, both equally prominent to our attention. The Lord will not have it so with those who are to be his joint-heirs in the Kingdom. This class must appreciate the privilege of fellowship in his labor, sufferings and hopes of glory to such an extent that their hearts will no longer be in the ordinary affairs of life, their ambitions will no longer be for wealth or name or fame from the world’s standpoint. All such ambitions and hopes we must “forsake” if we would be his disciples. He must be first, joint-heirship with him must be our ambition; otherwise our hearts would not be in a condition that would be pleasing to the Lord or that would not be single for his service; we would be of the kind described as double minded, unstable in all our works and ways. (`Jas. 1:8`.) Undoubtedly this is a difficulty with a large number of those who have named the name of Christ and professed consecration to him and his service.
Are we wise with our time so that we can “give all our time and energy to the most important of all works”?
Have you forsaken all worldly ambitions?
Where is your heart?
Mark 1:21 MKJV And they went into Capernaum. And immediately on the sabbath day He entered into the synagogue and taught.
JESUS made Capernaum his home and the center of his work in Galilee for a considerable time. It will be remembered that it was here that the Roman centurion, whose servant Jesus healed, lived, of whom the Jews testified that he was a friend of their nation, and had built them a synagogue or house of worship and Bible study. (`Luke 7:5`.) Some ruins in that vicinity have recently been exhumed, which are supposed by scholars to be the remains of this synagogue, because they seem to be on the site of Capernaum, and represent the most substantial synagogue structure in all that region, the walls being ten feet thick, seventy-four feet nine inches long, and fifty-six feet nine inches wide, with a roof supported by four rows of columns.
Immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught: Typically, the synagogue had no set teachers; the custom of “the freedom of the synagogue,” where learned guests were invited to speak on the Scripture reading for that day gave Jesus the opportunity to preach.
As indicating our Lord’s strict attention to the Father’s business, we have the statement that “straightway,” at once, on arriving at Capernaum from Nazareth, our Lord went into the synagogue (probably the one built by the centurion) and began his teaching. This reads peculiarly at the present day, when custom has completely barricaded every opportunity for free expression of opinion in almost all places devoted to worship. The Jewish arrangement was certainly a liberal one, and every way favorable to the truth, because whatever errors might creep in, the truth always had an opportunity for challenging them and exposing their weaknesses and referring to the divinely inspired oracles. Who can doubt that if we had just such simplicity or arrangements today, by which truth could challenge the various errors which have crept into all sectarian teaching, the result would be favorable–not favorable to sectarian systems, it is true, but favorable to the establishment of each individual in the truth, as presented in the divine oracles.
Do you have the freedom in your congregation to speak or question?
If you do, do you take advantage of that freedom to ask questions or make comments or participate?
If your fellowship does not allow such activities, will you be a voice for change? Or start a Bible study group where you can participate?
Mark 1:22 MKJV And they were astonished at His doctrine. For He taught them as one who had authority, and not like the scribes.
We are not told what Jesus taught, but we are told of the effect the teaching had on His audience. They were astonished. They had never heard anyone teach quite like this before.
For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes: The scribes of Jesus’ day rarely taught boldly. They would often simply quote a variety of Rabbis as interpreters. Jesus taught with boldness.
a. Jesus taught with authority because He really had authority. He brought a divine message, and was confident that it was from God. He wasn’t quoting from man, but from God.
b. Jesus taught with authority because He knew what He was talking about. You can’t teach with authority if you aren’t familiar with your material.
c. Jesus taught with authority because He believed what He taught. When you really believe what you teach, it comes through to your audience with authority.
The people who heard our Lord’s discourse were astonished. (1) At the things which he taught, and (2) at the manner in which he presented them. He taught with authority, that is to say, our Lord had a clear understanding of the subjects he handled, and his presentations were not vague suppositions and imaginations, and foundationless hopes and speculations; but were clear-cut and distinct, and well proven by the testimonies of the Law and the Prophets, so that they were conclusive in the minds of his hearers, who hitherto had been used to hearing the scribes guess, wonder, suppose, etc. Since the Lord has not seen fit to provide us with even a condensed statement of his discourse, it implies that a full knowledge of it would not be specially advantageous to us. However, a hint or inference respecting a portion of the sermon is furnished in the statement that during its progress a man present, possessed by an unclean spirit, cried out–evidently opposing something Jesus had said, saying, “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us?”
The clear inference is that Jesus had been speaking against sin, and the power which it exercised over humanity, involving all in the death penalty, with its sickness and pain and trouble; and incidentally no doubt he had mentioned demoniacal possession, so common at that time–and more common today than most people suppose (unbelieving professionals attach other labels to the conditions). It is our guess that the gospel preached at Capernaum must have followed somewhat similar lines to the gospel preached at Nazareth, declaring the time at hand in which God would be pleased to receive back into harmony with himself those who had been alienated through sin, and who had thus been brought under the bondage of corruption.
Do you believe in the Authority of the Bible as the Word of God? (All of it Old and New Testaments)
Do you study your Bible? Or just read? Or does it collect dust?
Mark 1:23 MKJV And in their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out,
In their synagogue — The devil went to church then, as he not infrequently does now, and he was as opposed to having the truth preached then as he is now.
In describing the man who is demon possessed, Mark uses the same grammar Paul used to describe the Christian’s being “in Christ” (1Co_1:30). This unclean spirit was the evil “lord” of this poor man’s life. The similarity in the wording between the Christian having Jesus and this man having a demon demonstrates that He is in us, we are in Him. We are “Jesus possessed” in the right sense, because His filling and influence is only for good.
Even as Jesus can live in us, so one uninhabited by Jesus can be inhabited by a demon if the invitation is extended, either consciously or unconsciously. Exposure to things such as spiritism, astrology, occult practices and drugs are dangerous. They open doors to the demonic which are better left closed.
It was an unclean spirit: “The ruling spirit in the man was not only a devil, but an unclean devil. Satan sometimes cleans himself up, and comes out quite bright and shining, like an angel of light; but do not mistake him; he is still a devil, for all his pretended purity. There are glittering sins, and respectable sins, and these will ruin souls, but this poor man had a disreputable demon in him, a spirit of the foulest, coarsest, and most abominable order.” (Spurgeon)
I know who You are; the Holy One of God! The demon himself testifies that Jesus is holy and pure. The demons admit that their wilderness temptations failed to corrupt Jesus.
Who influences your actions? Jesus or Satan?
Are you in a situation where you are opening the doors to Satan?
Mark 1:24 MKJV saying, What is to us and to You, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know You, who You are, the Holy One of God.
Let us alone – Though only one impure spirit is mentioned as possessing this man, yet that spirit speaks also in the name of others. They were leagued together in the work of evil, and this one knew that if he was punished, others would also share the same fate.
The language of the evil spirit, speaking through the man as its mouthpiece, clearly implies that these fallen spirits had at least a general understanding of the time when their evil course would be run, and that they knew that the just wages of their sinful course is destruction –not eternal torment. They recognized Jesus and his mission and his holiness, and that he was the representative of the Heavenly Father, but they had no hope for themselves–no expectation other than that when the time should come they would be utterly destroyed, annihilated. From various Scriptures, however, we learn that these fallen angels, demons, wicked spirits, will not be destroyed without first being given an opportunity for repentance and reconciliation with God.
I know thee who thou art – Evil spirits seem to have been acquainted at once with the Messiah. They knew him in his preexistence as the Logos of God.
The Holy One of God – The Messiah. See Dan_9:24. Jesus is called “the Holy One of God” because:
1. Jesus was eminently pure.
2. Because Jesus was the Son of God,
3. Because Jesus was anointed (set apart) to the work of the Messiah, the mediator between God and man.
This happened in the synagogue, others were witness to this confession of the fallen angels of who Jesus was—Why was man so slow to accept Jesus as the Messiah?
Do you accept Jesus as the Messiah? What does that mean to you?
Mark 1:25 MKJV And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be quiet, and come out of him.
Our Lord did not see fit to hold conversation with these spirit beings, who had fallen under the ban of divine condemnation, and with whom the Heavenly Father could no longer have communication. He did not, therefore, explain to them that his first advent was merely to pay the ransom price, and to start the gospel message which would select the “little flock” to be members of his “body” and joint-heirs with him in the Kingdom, that when complete and glorified should bless and judge the world (those living and all the way back to Adam) and judge the fallen angels also. (1 Cor. 6:3) And our Lord’s course in having nothing whatever to do with these fallen spirits, but on the contrary commanding them to hold their peace, should be a lesson to every one of his followers, who should seek in this and in every other matter to walk in his steps. We have known some to get themselves into serious difficulties through curiosity–which led them either to spiritualistic seances or to privately have communication with these fallen ones. Their cunning and deceitfulness is far too deep for humanity, and he who seeks communion with them in any manner or degree does so in violation, not only of the Scriptural command (Lev. 20:6; Isa. 8:19), but in violation also of Jesus’ example; and such run great risk of thus being entrapped and falling from their own steadfastness. The Apostle gives us to understand that even unwillingly and unwittingly we frequently wrestle, not with flesh and blood, but with these evil spirits, who inspire and use fallen fellow-creatures.–Eph. 6:12.
Jesus rebuked him: Jesus didn’t need to rely on hocus-pocus or ceremonies. He simply demonstrated the authority of God.
Be quiet: Jesus often told demons to shut up. Today, many self-styled deliverers from demon possession encourage the demons to speak, or even believe what the demons say. Jesus avoided such theatrics and merely delivered the afflicted man.
There were other exorcists in Jesus’ day. He was not the only one who tried to cast out demons. But there was a huge difference between Jesus and other exorcists. They used long, fancy, elaborate, superstitious ceremonies. They often failed. Jesus never failed to cast out a demon, and He never used an elaborate ceremony. Here was Jesus’ ceremony: “Be quiet, and come out of him!”
Lane describes an ancient account from Josephus about the work of an ancient exorcist named Eleazar, around the time of Jesus: “He put to the nose of the possessed man a ring which had under its seal one of the roots prescribed by Solomon, and then, as the man smelled it, drew out the demon through his nostrils, and, when the man at once fell down, adjured the demon never to come back into him, speaking Solomon’s name and reciting the incantations which he had composed. Then, wishing to convince the bystanders and prove to them that he had this power, Eleazar placed a cup or foot-basin full of water a little way off and commanded the demon, as it went out of the man, to overturn it and make known to the spectators that he had left the man.” “The people were accustomed to the use of magical formulae by the Jewish exorcists (Mat_12:27; Act_19:13), but here was something utterly different.” (Robertson)
What have you learned from this verse?
Have you heard ones say, “I’m going to beat up on the Devil”? What are your thoughts now on that kind of activity?
Mark 1:26 MKJV And the unclean spirit, convulsing him, and crying with a loud voice, he came out of him.
And when the unclean spirit … – Still malignant, though doomed to obey – submitting because he was obliged to, not because he chose – he exerted his last power, inflicted all the pain he could, and then bowed to the Son of God and came out.
This is the nature of an evil disposition. Though compelled to obey, though prevented by the command and providence of God from doing what it “would,” yet, in seeming to obey, it does all the ill it can, and makes even the appearance of obedience the occasion for increased crime and mischief.
A loud noise or voice – For he was forbidden to speak. Christ would neither suffer those evil spirits to speak in opposition, nor yet in favor of him. He needed not their testimony, nor would encourage it, lest any should infer that he acted in concert with them.
Seeing the power of these demons against those they torment, should give us some sympathy for the masses of humanity who are in bondage to Satan—but who in the Kingdom will be freed at last from the hold and deception of Satan—can you have sympathy on those who would mistreat you—understanding that in some cases it may literally be “the Devil making them do it”?
Do you see the danger of messing with the fallen angels? Even watching demonic or spiritist movies can open the door to letting down your guard against them—Do you watch these types of movies?
Mark 1:27 MKJV They all were amazed, so as to question among themselves, saying, What is this? What new doctrine is this? For He even commands the unclean spirits with authority, and they obey Him.
As St. Paul refused to allow a young woman medium to proclaim him and Silas servants of God (Acts 16:16-18), so Jesus refused to allow this demon to give testimony respecting Himself–even though it was complimentary. He commanded the demon to come out of the man. In leaving the man the demon caused him great pain so that he cried aloud. The effect upon the congregation at the synagogue was amazement. Not only the teachings of Jesus captivated them, but also His power to deal with the evil spirits, corroborating His authority as a Teacher sent from God. His fame began to spread throughout all the region of Galilee.
Yet we do not read that any one was converted by this miracle. All were amazed, but wonder is not self-surrender. They were content to let their excitement die out, as every violent emotion must, without any change of life, any permanent devotion to the new Teacher and His doctrine.
When you experience the power of God, how does it affect you?
Do you easily forget the awesomeness of our Lord and go about your daily business?
Mark 1:28 MKJV And immediately His fame went out into all the Galilean neighborhood.
(WEBA) The report of him went out immediately everywhere into all the region of Galilee and its surrounding area.
It raised his reputation among all that heard it; Immediately his fame spread abroad into the whole adjacent region of Galilee, which was a third part of the land of Canaan. The story was presently got into every one’s mouth, and people wrote it to their friends all the country over, together with the remark made upon it, What new doctrine is this? So that it was universally concluded, that he was a Teacher come from God, and under that character he shone more bright than if he had appeared in all the external pomp and power which the Jews expected their Messiah to appear in; and thus he prepared his own way, now that John, who was his harbinger, was in prison; and the fame of this miracle spread the further, because as yet the Pharisees, who envied his fame, and labored to eclipse it, had not advanced their blasphemous suggestion, that he cast out devils by compact with the prince of the devils.
As the fame of Jesus increased, because of his miracles and teaching (Luke 4:14,15,33-37; 5:12-15,19,25,26; 7:16,17; 8:1-4; Matt. 4:23,24; 9:18,26,35; Mark 1:27,28; 3:20), the opposition to him became more and more pronounced, especially from the Chief Priests, Scribes and Pharisees, as they were brought into competition and unfavorable comparison with him as public teachers; and the indications were that all the people would be drawn after him, and that they would soon be left out of their official positions and the accompanying honors and emoluments. For such a change they were not in heart-readiness, although the prophet had foretold that “unto him [the Messiah] shall the gathering of the people be.” (Gen. 49:10) They did not have the humble, unselfish spirit of John the Baptist, who meekly said, “There standeth one among you, whom ye know not: he it is who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose:…he must increase, but I must decrease.”–John 1:26,27; 3:30.
Instead of manifesting such a spirit, they allowed pride, envy and malice to fill their hearts and actuate their conduct, and sought by every means in their power to obstruct and counteract the Lord’s teaching. In this way they shut the door of the Kingdom of Heaven against themselves and against all those into whom they infused the same evil spirit. (Matt. 23:13)
When you have determined that something come from God, what do you do with it?
How do you determine that a doctrine come from God or not?
Mark 1:29 MKJV And immediately after they had come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
Matthew tells us that on leaving the synagogue they entered into Peter’s house. Mark, with his peculiar sources of information, is aware that Andrew shared the house with his brother at Capernaum, where it seems they were now inhabitants, though their native place was Bethsaida, Joh_1:44,
Jesus came into this humble house in Capernaum, and met a sick woman there. Jesus didn’t only “perform for the crowds.” Here, He ministers to one person in a private home. Jesus’ interest was in meeting the needs of individuals not in promoting Himself, and He didn’t need to power of crowd dynamics to help His ministry.
It was a home with ordinary associations. There was nothing special or distinctive about it or about others which our Lord frequented, and in which he did some of his mightiest deeds and spoke some of his most weighty words. His presence gave sanctity to domestic associations from the time of his first miracle (Joh_2:2) to the hour when he made himself known in the home of Emmaus (Luk_24:29). We are not to sever ourselves from them—even Peter did not (Mar_1:30; 1Co_9:5)—but should rather seek to recognize and welcome Jesus amidst them. It is a happy thing when there is family peace and love such as seem to have prevailed in this home. A “wife’s mother” would occupy a difficult and delicate position, but such had been her wisdom and gentleness, her sympathy and constancy, that she had now the love of all, and therefore, directly Jesus entered the home, her illness and need of help prompted the urgent and united prayer he so gladly answered.
It was a home significant of higher fellowship. The Christian Church sprang rather from the homes of the people than from the temple at Jerusalem. If it had originated in the temple, sacramentalism would have found more justification than it does in the New Testament. But the temple was not frequented by the great Teacher to the extent we might have expected. His Church met in the homes of Capernaum and Bethany. The relations between his disciples were to be those of brothers and sisters, bound together, not by law, but by love. Let us, then, try to make the Church a home, and thence the voice of our gracious Master will speak with effectual power to a weary world, saying, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”—A.R.
Do you allow Jesus into your home?
In what ways can we allow Jesus into our home?
Mark 1:30 MKJV But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and at once they told Him about her.
sick of a fever– “A great fever”, Luke says, Luk_4:38; a very violent one, which threatened with death, and must be very dangerous to an old person Evidently the casting out of the demon suggested to the minds of the disciples the power of our Lord to heal diseases.
It is recorded as an instance of Christ’s peculiar care of, and kindness to, the families of his disciples. Here we find, (1.) That Peter had a wife, and yet was called to be an apostle of Christ; and Christ countenanced the marriage state, by being thus kind to his wife’s relations. The church of Rome, therefore, which forbids ministers to marry, goes contrary to that apostle from whom they pretend to derive an infallibility. (2.) That Peter had a house, though Christ had not, Mat_8:20. Thus was the disciple better provided for than his Lord. (3.) That he had a house at Capernaum, though he was originally of Bethsaida; it is probably, he removed to Capernaum, when Christ removed thither, and made that his principal residence. Note, It is worthwhile to change our quarters, that we may be near to Christ, and have opportunities of converse with him. When the ark removes, Israel must remove and go after it. (4.) That he had his wife’s mother with him in his family, which is an example to yoke-fellows to be kind to one another’s relations as their own. Probably, this good woman was old, and yet was respected and taken care of, as old people ought to be, with all possible tenderness. (5.) That she lay ill of a fever. Neither the strength of youth, nor the weakness and coldness of age, will be a fence against diseases of this kind. The palsy was a chronical disease, the fever an acute disease, but both were brought to Christ.
Do you bring Christ to your family?
Do you bring him to your mother-in-law?
Mark 1:31 MKJV And He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. And instantly the fever left her, and she served them.
In this healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, Jesus shows both simplicity and power. Jesus healed with the same authority that He cast out demons.
“Peter’s mother-in-law was suffering from what the Talmud called ‘a burning fever.’ It was, and still is, very prevalent in that particular part of Galilee. The Talmud actually lays down the methods of dealing with it. A knife made wholly of iron was tied by a braid of hair to a thorn bush. On successive days there was repeated, first, Exo_3:2-3; second Exo_3:4; and finally Exo_3:5. Then a certain magical formula was pronounced, and thus the cure was supposed to be achieved. Jesus completely disregarded all the paraphernalia of popular magic, and with a gesture and a word of unique authority and power, he healed the woman.” (Barclay)
And she served them: Peter’s mother-in-law responds the way we should when Jesus blesses us. She immediately served Jesus out of gratitude.
How many today, being released from spiritual fevers, arise to do vigorously the Lord’s business?
How do you respond when the Lord works in your life?
Mark 1:32 MKJV And at evening, when the sun set, they brought all those who were diseased to Him, and those who had been demon-possessed.
Mark 1:33 MKJV And all the city had gathered at the door.
When the sun had set: Jesus is ministering after sundown, ending the Sabbath day (Mar_1:21). Freed from the Sabbath restrictions on travel and activity, the people come to Him freely to be healed. Then He healed many: It had been a busy day, and now Jesus ministers after nightfall to the whole city that had gathered together at the door. Jesus worked very hard to serve the needs of others, and always put their needs before His.
– Let us not seek for the loaves and fishes and physical healing, for after all these things do the Gentiles seek; but let us seek for spiritual health, strength and vigor.
How numerous the patients were; All the city was gathered at the door, as beggars for a handout. That one cure in the synagogue occasioned this crowding after him. Others speeding well with Christ should quicken us in our enquiries after him. Now the Sun of righteousness rises with healing under his wings; to him shall the gathering of the people be. Observe, How Christ was flocked after in a private house, as well as in the synagogue; wherever he is, there let his servants, his patients, be. And in the evening of the sabbath, when the public worship is over, we must continue our attendance upon Jesus Christ; he healed, as Paul preached, publicly, and from house to house.
Do those in our city know that we are the Lord’s?
In what ways can we “heal the broken hearted” and “afflicted” ?
Are we taking the opportunity to do so?
Mark 1:34 MKJV And He healed many who were sick of different diseases, and cast out many demons. And He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
As Jesus drove out the demons, He suffered them not to speak because they knew Him. We cannot believe that His rejection of their impure testimony was wise and sensible only, whatever possibility there may have been of that charge of confederacy (or partnership) which was afterwards actually brought (Luke 11:18). Any help which might have come to Jesus from the lips of demons was shocking and revolting to our Lord. And this is a lesson for all religious and political supporters who stop short of doing evil themselves, but reject no advantage which the evil deeds of others may bestow. Not so cold and negative is the morality of Jesus. He regards as contamination whatever help fraud, suppressions of truth, injustice, by whomsoever wrought, can yield. He rejects them by an instinct of abhorrence, and not only because shame and dishonor have always befallen the purest cause which stooped to unholy alliances.
Jesus that day showed Himself powerful alike in the congregation, in the home, and in the streets, and over evil spirits and physical disease alike.
How powerful the Physician was; he healed all that were brought to him, though ever so many. Nor was it some one particular disease, that Christ set up for the cure of, but he healed those that were sick of divers diseases, for his word was a panpharmacon – a salve for every sore. And that miracle particularly which he wrought in the synagogue, he repeated in the house at night; for he cast out many devils, and suffered not the devils to speak, for he made them know who he was, and that silenced them. Or, He suffered them not to say that they knew him (so it may be read); he would not permit any more of them to say, as they did (Mar. 1:24), I know thee, who thou art.
Do you stop short of doing evil yourself, but have no real problem with another doing it for you? Do you think it makes a difference?
Has anyone of questionable character put a good word in for you? How did it make you feel?
Mark 1:35 MKJV And rising up quite early in the night, He went out and went away into a deserted place, and He was praying there.
Now in the morning: After such a long day as the day before, would we not excuse Jesus for “sleeping in”? Yet He, having risen a long while before daylight, made less time for sleep and more time for prayer.
“Look no man in the face till thou hast seen the face of God. Speak thou with none till thou hast had speech with the Most High.” (Spurgeon)
b. He prayed: Jesus did not need to pray because He was weak, but because He was strong, and the source of His strength was His relationship with God His Father. Jesus knew that pressure and busyness should drive us towards prayer, not from prayer.
What did Jesus pray for? As much as anything, Jesus used this time of prayer for that close, intimate communion with his heavenly Father that He longed for, which nourished and strengthened his soul. We can also surmise that Jesus prayed for himself. He prayed for his disciples. He prayed for those he met and ministered to the previous night. He prayed for those he would meet and minister to that coming day.
A solitary place: Jesus knew the importance of solitary time with God. While it is good and important for us to join with others in the presence of God, there is much in our Christian life that can only be learned and experienced in a solitary place with God.
- This is more than “I pray all the time” kind of prayer. It is a wonderful thing to commune with God all through the day, and to constantly shoot up prayers to heaven. But don’t you think Jesus did that also? Yet He still thought it was vital to take time out for prayer in a solitary place.
b. “Woe unto that man whose devotion is observed by everybody, and who never offers a secret supplication. Secret prayer is the secret of prayer, the soul of prayer, the seal of prayer, the strength of prayer. If you do not pray alone, you do not pray at all. I care not whether you pray in the street, or in the church, or in the barrack-room, or in the cathedral; but your heart must speak with God in secret, or you have not prayed.” (Spurgeon)
c. “There is in public and private prayer a more united strength and interest, but in secret prayer an advantage for more free and full communication of our souls unto God. Christ for this chooseth the morning, as the time freest from distractions and company; and a solitary place, as fittest for a secret duty.” (Poole)
This passage shows us many things about the prayer life of Jesus.
• For Jesus, fellowship with God was something for more than just the Sabbath.
• Jesus wanted to be alone to pray.
• Jesus wanted to be alone so He could pour out His heart to His Father.
1. The time when Christ prayed. (1.) It was in the morning, the morning after the sabbath day. Note, When a sabbath day is over and past, we must not think that we may suspend our devotion till the next sabbath: no, though we go not to the synagogue, we must go to the throne of grace, every day in the week; and the morning after the sabbath particularly, that we may preserve the good impressions of the day. This morning was the morning of the first day of the week, which afterward he sanctified, and made remarkable, by another sort of rising early. (2.) It was early, a great while before day. When others were asleep in their beds, he was praying, as a genuine Son of David, who seeks God early, and directs his prayer in the morning; nay, and at midnight will rise to give thanks. When our spirits are most fresh and lively, then we should take time for devout exercises. He that is the first and best, ought to have the first and best.
2. The place where he prayed; He departed into a solitary place, either out of town, or some remote garden or out-building. Though he was in no danger of distraction, or of temptation to vain-glory, yet he retired, to set us an example to his own rule, When thou prayest enter into thy closet. Secret prayer must be made secretly. Those that have the most business in public, and of the best kind, must sometimes be alone with God; must retire into solitude, there to converse with God, and keep up communion with him.
When do you spend alone time with God?
Is private prayer a part of your daily routine?
Mark 1:36 MKJV And Simon, and those with him, searched for Him.
“Simon and his friends almost hunted for Him.”
This is early in Jesus’ relationship with His disciples. As they got to know Him, they learned that whenever they could not find Him, He was probably off in solitary prayer.
Do you know where to find the Lord?
Do you go looking for him?
Mark 1:37 MKJV And finding Him, they said to Him, All are seeking You.
What the disciples said in their wondering delight shall one day be literally true. All men will be in search of the Saviour of the world. In the first instance, the Saviour sought all men, and in the second all men will seek the Saviour.
Everyone is looking for You: The disciples probably thought Jesus would be pleased at His popularity, and would want to spend more time with the crowd He had just gathered and impressed the day before.
When people seek Christ, what are they looking for? The loaves and fishes? Miracles, cures?
When you seek Christ, what are you looking for?
Mark 1:38 MKJV And He said to them, Let us go into the next towns so that I may proclaim there also. For that reason I came forth.
Jesus did not stay in that town and “ride” the crest of His popularity there. He knew His ministry was to preach all across Galilee, His ministry was not being famous or enjoying the fame. The clear emphasis on Jesus’ ministry is preaching: for this purpose I have come forth. Though the healing and miraculous ministry of Jesus was impressive and a glorious blessing, it was never His emphasis or mission.
We read of Christ’s preaching often in the synagogues, on the mountain, in a ship; of his public praying we read not, though of his private and secret prayer often. We read expressly that he baptized none.” (Poole)
Jesus Christ preached, and He called His servants to the same work. Preaching can never fail to be one of the mightiest instruments in stirring the human mind and in moulding human society. Individual preaching may become feeble; even distinguished ministers may cool in the enthusiasm with which they undertook their great work; but preaching as instituted by Jesus Christ, exemplified in His own ministry, can never cease to be one of the most effective agencies in human education and progress.
Is your mission or emphasis in Christ humanitarian or preaching the Word?
Mark 1:39 MKJV And He proclaimed in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out demons.
And he preached – He continued preaching – Ην κηρυσσων: this is the proper meaning of the words: he never slackened his pace – he continued proclaiming the glad tidings of salvation to all – there was no time to be lost – people were perishing for lack of knowledge (Hos. 4:6); and the grand adversary was prowling about, seeking whom he might devour (1 Pet. 5:8). This zealous, affectionate, and persevering diligence of Christ should be copied by all his servants in the ministry; it is not less necessary now than it was then. Thousands, thousands of Christians, so called, are perishing for lack of knowledge. O God, send forth more and more faithful laborers into thy vineyard!—Luke 10:2
Observe, Christ had still an eye to the end wherefore he came forth, and closely pursued that; nor will he be drawn by importunity, or the persuasions of his friends, to decline from that; for (Mar_1:39) he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and, to illustrate and confirm his doctrine, he cast out devils. Note, Christ’s doctrine is Satan’s destruction.
Are you on the same mission as Christ?
What is your mission?
Mark 1:40 MKJV And a leper came to Him, begging Him and kneeling down to Him, and saying to Him, If You will, You can make me clean.
A leper came to Him: Leprosy was one of the horrific diseases of the ancient world. Today, leprosy afflicts 15 million across the world, mostly in third world nations.
a. It begins as small, red spots on the skin. Before too long the spots get bigger, and start to turn white, with sort of a shiny, or scaly appearance. Pretty soon the spots spread over your whole body and your hair begins to fall out – first from your head, then even from your eyebrows. As things get worse, your finger nails and toenails get sort of loose; they start to rot and eventually fall off. Then the joints of your fingers and toes begin to rot, and they start to fall off, piece by piece. Your gums start shrinking, and they can’t hold your teeth anymore, so you lose each of them. It keeps eating away at your face until literally your nose, your palate, and even your eyes rot – and you waste away until you die.
b. As horrible as the physical suffering was, the worst part of having leprosy might have been the way people treated you. In the Old Testament, God said that when there were lepers among the people of Israel, they should be carefully quarantined and examined (Leviticus 13-14). Lepers had to dress like people who were in mourning for the dead, because they were considered to be the living dead. They had to warn the people around them by crying out, “Unclean! Unclean!” whenever people were near them. This really wasn’t because leprosy is highly contagious; it isn’t. It is because God used this disease as a striking example of sin and its effects on us.
c. But the people of Jesus day went further than the Old Testament told them to. Back then, they thought two things about a leper: you are the walking dead and you deserve this because this is the punishment of God against you. Jewish custom said that you should not even greet a leper. Custom said you had to stay six feet from a leper. One Rabbi bragged that he would not even buy an egg on a street where he saw a leper, and another boasted that he threw rocks at lepers to keep them far from him. Rabbis didn’t even allow a leper to wash his face.
Knowing how terrible the disease was, it does not surprise us that the leper was so desperate before Jesus. The leper really believed in the power of Jesus, and had confidence that Jesus could heal him. The leper had no doubt about Jesus’ power. This shows great faith and great awareness because as far as we know, Jesus hadn’t healed a leper yet in His ministry. He kneeled and inclined his face to the ground, in token of deep humiliation and earnest entreaty.
You can make me clean: The leper knew what he needed from Jesus. He didn’t ask to be healed, but cleansed; the man needed much more than healing.
- Whatever you think you need from God, what you most need from Jesus is cleansing – to be cleansed from sin and the life lived for one’s self.
Have you asked for Jesus to cleanse you today?
Mark 1:41 MKJV And Jesus, moved with compassion, put out His hand and touched him, and said to him, I will; be clean!
Jesus, moved with compassion: We are often moved with compassion when we meet sick people, but lepers usually did not arouse compassion. Their whole appearance was too repulsive, and they usually made people feel disgust instead of compassion.
a. Luke says this man was full of leprosy (Luk_5:12), meaning that the disease was in the advanced stages. This man’s whole body and life was rotting, and Jesus changed him.
Put out His hand and touched him: Jesus healed many people many different ways, but here He chose to heal this man with a touch. He could have spoken a word or even just thought a thought and the man would have been healed, but Jesus used a touch.
- Why was a touch so important? Because people were forbidden to touch this man on account of his leprosy. Since his disease was in the advanced stages, he had been a leper a long time, it was a long time since he had felt a loving touch.
- “In the antiseptic cleanliness of modern hospitals we lose sight of the wonder of the pure Christ stooping to touch the odiosus peccator, the ‘stinking sinner’, to use the strong term beloved by our forefathers.” (Cole)
d. It was against Jewish ceremonial law to touch a leper. Yet Jesus did not break that law, because as soon as He touched the man, he was no longer a leper!
His prayer was answered, not because he was one of Jesus’ disciples, nor because he promised to become one of them, but because of his exercise of faith, and in order to make of his case a testimony to the priests that Jesus exercised a power divine.
Do you have the faith of this leper?
Do you believe that Jesus will make you clean?
Mark 1:42 MKJV And He having spoken, the leprosy instantly departed from him and he was cleansed.
The charm of this delightful incident is the manner in which our Lord grants the impassioned prayer. We might have expected a shudder, a natural recoil from the loathsome spectacle, and then a wonder-working word. But misery which He could relieve did not repel Jesus; it attracted Him. His impulse was to approach. He not only answered “I will,” — and deep is the will to remove all anguish in the wonderful heart of Jesus, — but He stretched forth an unshrinking hand, and touched that death in life. It is a parable of all His course, this laying of a clean hand on the sin of the world to cleanse it. At His touch, how was the morbid frame thrilled with delightful pulses of suddenly renovated health. And how was the despairing, joyless heart, incredulous of any real will to help him, soothed and healed by the pure delight of being loved.
This is the true lesson of the narrative. St. Mark treats the miraculous cure much more lightly than the tender compassion and the swift movement to relieve suffering. And he is right. The warm and generous nature revealed by this fine narrative is what, as we have seen, most impresses the doubter, and ought most to comfort the Church.
The touch of a leper made a Jew unclean. And there is a surprising theory, that when Jesus could no more openly enter into a city, it was because the leper had disobediently published what implied His ceremonial defilement. As if our Lord were one to violate the law by stealth.
But is it very remarkable that Christ, Who was born under the law, never betrayed any anxiety about cleanness. The law of impurity was in fact an expression of human frailty. Sin spreads corruption far more easily than virtue diffuses purity. The touch of goodness fails to reproduce goodness. And the prophet Haggai has laid stress upon this contrast, that bread or pottage or wine or oil or any meat will not become holy at the touch of one who bears holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, but if one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, it shall be unclean (Hag_2:12-13). Our hearts know full well how true to nature is the ordinance.
But Christ brought among us a virtue more contagious than our vices are, being not only a living soul, but a life-imparting Spirit. And thus He lays His hand upon this leper, upon the bier at Nain, upon the corpse of the daughter of Jairus, and as fire is kindled at the touch of fire, so instead of pollution to Him, the pureness of healthful life is imparted to the defiling and defiled.
And His followers also are to possess a religion that is vitalizing, to be the light of the world, and the salt of the earth.
What lessons can we glean from this encounter?
How can we apply them to our daily lives?
Mark 1:43 MKJV And He strictly charged him and immediately sent him away,
Mark 1:44 MKJV and He said to him, See that you say nothing to anyone. But go and show yourself to the priest, and offer those things which Moses commanded for your cleansing, for a testimony to them.
Show yourself to the priest: Jesus told the former leper go to the priests to carry out the ceremony the law required when a leper was cleansed. Jesus did this first to honor the law of God, but also as a testimony to the priests that an incurable disease had been cured.
- The elements used in the Levitical ceremony for the cleansing of a leper (cedar wood, hyssop, and scarlet) are the same elements used in cleansing someone who has been defiled by a dead body (Num_19:6; Num_19:13; Num_19:18 and Lev_14:4-7).
- This also shows why David said purge me with hyssop in his great Psalm of repentance (Psalms 51); he saw himself as a spiritual leper, needing cleansing.
- Since lepers were never healed, these priests had never conducted this ceremony. When they had to look up in Leviticus the procedure for this ceremony, and had to carry it out for the first time, it would be a strong witness that the Messiah was among them.
It was of importance that “the priest” should pronounce it to be a genuine cure, that there might be no cavils among the Jews against its being a real miracle. For a testimony unto them – Not to the priest, but to the people, that they may have evidence that it is a real cure. The testimony of the priest on the subject would be decisive.
Mark 1:45 MKJV But going out, he began to proclaim it very much, and to spread about the matter, so that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was outside in deserted places. And they came to Him from every quarter.
Say nothing to anyone . . . But he went out and began to proclaim it freely: The former leper shows a “well-intentioned disobedience” to Jesus. “Yes, I know Jesus told me not to tell anyone, but what could be wrong with doing it?”
i. The man may have meant well, and might have thought he was helping Jesus, but his disobedience hindered the ministry of Jesus: Jesus could no longer openly enter the city. It’s best to always just obey Jesus, and we should never think that we have a better plan than He does.
If we are thus to further His cause, we must not only be zealous but obedient. Jesus strictly charged the leper not to fan the flame of an excitement which already impeded His work. But there was an invaluable service which he might render: the formal registration of his cure, the securing its official recognition by the priests, and their consent to offer the commanded sacrifices. In many a subsequent controversy, that “testimony unto them” might have been embarrassing indeed. But the leper lost his opportunity, and put them upon their guard. And as through his impulsive clamor Jesus could no more openly enter into a city, but even in desert places was beset by excited crowds, so is He deprived today of many a tranquil ministration and lowly service, by the zeal which despises order and quiet methods, by the undisciplined and ill-judged demonstrations of men and women whom He has blessed.
Began to publish it much – That is, he made known his own cure. He was so deeply affected with it, and so much rejoiced, that he followed the natural dictates of his own feelings rather than the command of the Saviour.
Do we strive to be obedient to the commands of our Lord?
Or do we allow our emotions to dictate our actions?
Commentaries used: Guzik, Gill, Clarke, Barnes, Henry, Russell, Expositor’s Bible and more