-Introduction: Mark is written by one known as John Mark, who was not actually one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. He did however accompany Paul from what we know of Scripture on his first missionary journey (Acts 13:13; 15:36-38); therefore, we can conclude that he had intense and direct access to other early Christians who were writing down gospel accounts. Barnabas, along with Peter, are traditionally given much credit for Mark’s development as a disciple and his source for factual accounts in the life of Jesus. His synoptic gospel closely associates with Matthew’s biography as well as many parts of Luke’s testimony under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The date given for this brief and synthesized text goes somewhere between the years of 55-65 A.D. making it quite possibly the first gospel account written down in textual form. It was set to a Roman cultural context under the emperors’ Pax Romana for rapid progression of this message with common language and adequate transportation methods across the region. This good news account presents Jesus as the Servant (Mark 10:45) who came teaching and working miracles to initiate the Kingdom of God as deity in the flesh. In vivid action, Mark details parts of the ministry of Christ Jesus for the world to experience while omitting things like His birth and various details that other gospel writers would focus on. What was important for this gospel was the mighty works of the Messiah and the obedience He displayed to the Father in His earthly ministry of redemption. The events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, His actual death, and His dynamic resurrection become the focal point of this message by John Mark, the imperfect but growing man of God (2 Timothy 4:11).
-Chapter 1: Mark starts out with the fact that this is the gospel (euaggelion- the good news or tidings of Christ) of Jesus Christ who is the Son of God. He quotes Isaiah, the prophet of some 750 years prior, to make a point about the ministry of John the Baptist, “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way; the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘make ready the way of the LORD, make His paths straight (Isaiah 40:3, Mark 1:1-4).’” Mark gives some brief descriptions of John’s ministry for the reader. He preached a baptism (baptisma- immersion, submersion) of repentance (metanoia- changing of the mind) for the forgiveness of sins. Everyone from Judea, including the population in Jerusalem was going down to be baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins before God and having a true change of heart. John’s personal characteristics are described here as having clothes of camel’s hair (a plentiful animal in that region) and a leather belt around his waist with a diet of locusts (a devouring animal being eaten) and wild honey (probably the date palms that surround the area in the Jordan Valley). His preaching concerned a pointing to the Messiah, saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:5-8).” Jesus came down from Nazareth in Galilee in those days and was symbolically baptized by John in the Jordan to begin His public ministry. As He came out of the water, He saw the heavens open up with the Holy Spirit like a dove (symbol of peace with God) descending upon Him; and a Voice uttered these words, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased (Mark 1:9-11).” This was the Trinity meeting together at a specific time and place, which is theologically important.
-“Immediately” the Holy Spirit took Him out into the wilderness with the wild beasts to be tempted by Satan for 40 days. There in this brief account of a dramatic encounter between good and evil, Jesus prevails with no sin and then His angels ministered to Him (Matthew 4:1-11,Mark 1:12-13. Luke 4:1-13).
-The scene quickly shifts to the time when John the Baptist had been taken into custody by Herod (Matthew 14:3). Jesus at that point came into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:14-15).” As He was going along the Sea of Galilee, He began to choose His followers with an invitation for becoming His disciples. Simon (Peter), Andrew (Simon’s brother), James, and John (the sons of Zebedee) were called from their fishing business to become “fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and went away to follow the Christ (Mark 1:16-20).
-They went into the northern lakeshore town of Capernaum and entered the synagogue there on the Sabbath, and Jesus began to teach there. Everyone was amazed at His teaching because He was not teaching like the normal scribes of the area. He was preaching boldly of the things of God with authority and conviction. A man with an unclean spirit in him cried out, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus quickly rebuked this spirit commanding it to come out of the man. “Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him.” All were freaked out and began to debate over what had just occurred. They concluded it to be a new teaching with authority over unclean spirits, which was the truth. And, as expected, immediately the news about Him spread into all the surrounding district of Galilee (Mark 1:21-28). Healings continued as they left the synagogue there in Capernaum and came into the house of Simon and Andrew. With James and John in their presence they found Simon’s mother-in-law lying sick with a fever and beckoned Jesus concerning her. He came to her, raised her up by the hand, and the fever left her miraculously. Then she served them, and the evening came. When it came, there was no small hubbub in the community. After the sun had set, the populace began to bring to Him all who were ill and demon-possessed. Many were healed and set free from the demonic powers over them. Jesus, in His supreme authority, was not permitting any of the demons to speak, because they certainly knew who He was (Mark 1:29-34). By the early morning, Jesus retreated, while it was still dark outside, to a secluded place and was praying with the Father. Simon and his friends were looking for Him, and when they found the Lord, they said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” Jesus replied with discernment and intent of purpose, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” He then went into the Jewish synagogues throughout all of Galilee, preaching and casting out demons (Mark 1:35-39). In one unnamed village, a leper came to Jesus falling on his knees before Him asking to heal him if He was willing. Jesus indeed was moved with compassion for the man and healed him with outstretched hand and His touch. Jesus sternly warned him not to tell everyone what had happened, but to show himself to the priest in accordance with the Law of Moses. But, this individual couldn’t help it. He went out and began to proclaim His miracle freely. This forced Jesus out into unpopulated areas because He could no longer publicly enter a city due to the commotion His presence was causing. His time for earthly Kingship had not yet come, and there would have been an uprising which was not of God had He not done this. But the needy people came to Him in these remote places from everywhere. The Kingdom of heaven had come to earth (Mark 1:40-45)!
-*Application* There are many things we could pull out from this passage this are pertinent to our daily walk with Christ. What hits me specifically today is the call of the disciples. They left their lives to follow a Man with a Divine cause. Jesus’ charisma shines through in this text because He and God were One. We too have the Holy Spirit of the Living God within us to walk about this earth with the same authority and power as Christ did if we really think about it. Who needs healing around us today? How could we minister to a world in need with the gifts God has blessed us with? These are the questions we should be asking as we fulfill the great commission and commands of Christ (Matthew 22:36-40; 28:18-20). Have we left everything behind to follow the cause of Jesus Christ? Do we trust in His power to conquer the demons that surround us? Live strong, Christ is in us forever!
Verse to Memorize: Mark 1:35