About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Mark 1
Commentary On Mark
The following commentary is based on the 1984 edition of the New International Bible. The chapter titles in my commentary are the same as that of the NIV Bible to help make for easier comparison.
seems to be a close associate with Peter.
We first see him in Acts 12:12 where he is with those who are
praying for Peter after Peter’s release from prison.
The last time we see him is in
took Mark to Antioch
to help with the church there. Mark
was Barnabas’ nephew, thus the possible reason why Paul and Barnabas
took Mark on their first missionary journey.
When Paul and Barnabas were ready to go on their second trip, Paul
refused to take Mark with them. Barnabas
strongly wanted Mark to go. This
resulted in Paul and Barnabas separating and going their own ways.
Paul took Silas and went north and west through
Col. 4:10 we see Paul telling the church there to accept Mark as he comes
to them. This letter was
probably written in 62 AD from Rome
while Paul was in prison. So
it seems that if Paul had any trouble with Mark in the early days, he had
long since forgot about it.
2 Tim. 4:11 Paul asks Timothy to bring Mark with him to Rome
. It’s most probable that
Paul wrote this letter during his second imprisonment in
is understood that Peter came to what he called
scholars don’t believe that Mark was around when Jesus walked in
also has it that Mark ended up in
scholars agree that Mark is directing his account mostly to the Gentile
opens his account by saying that he is writing about the good news
(gospel) of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
Some manuscripts have “Son of God” while others don’t
If Mark did indeed write the words “Son of God” it would be
clear that he wanted people to know that Jesus was no mere man.
He was indeed the Messiah of Israel, God in human flesh.
introduces the beginning of the life of Jesus with John the Baptist, the
prophet that came before Jesus to make it known to Israel that their
Messiah was now about to come, after all the years of waiting.
Mark uses an Old Testament quote to do this.
This is the only Old Testament quote
to be found in his account and he says it is from Isaiah.
He is right when he says this.
The second half of the quote is from Isa. 40:3, but the first part
of the quote is actually from Mal. 3:1.
point out that Mark made a mistake when he said that this quote is from
Isaiah, and not Isaiah and Malachi. But
this is not necessarily a mistake. It
is quite possible that Mark wanted to stress the Isaiah quote.
quote from Malachi comes first. It
says, “I will send a messenger ahead of you who will prepare your
way”. The pronouns “you”
and “your” clearly refers to Jesus.
Jesus would have a messenger prepare His way.
quote from Isaiah says, “a voice calling out in the desert, prepare the
way for the Lord, and make straight paths for Him”. This
was John’s job. He was to
announce the coming of the Messiah. In
so doing people would hear the announcement and act accordingly by
preparing their hearts to receive their Messiah.
This would make the path straight for Jesus.
This would make Jesus’ job easier. Well we all know that John did
His job, and so did Jesus, but
4 says that John came baptizing in the wilderness.
Notice he did not go to a synagogue, not to the temple in
unconventionality was really a product of who he was.
He had lived in the wilderness for years.
So it is interesting to note that God did not change who John was
and how he lived upon calling him to this ministry.
John was unconventional before his ministry, and he was
unconventional during his ministry.
with John baptizing, Mark says that his message was about “repentance
for the forgiveness of sins’. It
is clear from this verse that repentance is a condition for the
forgiveness of sins. If one
truly repents, he will be forgiven. If
he doesn’t repent, there’s no forgiveness for him.
It has been said that “God’s love is unconditional while His
forgiveness is conditional’.
verse 5 we see that John got the crowds from all over Judea and from
see the word confess in this verse. Part
of repenting is confessing. Confessing
is simply acknowledging your sin and saying so.
If you don’t believe you have sinned, then it is obvious that you
cannot repent because you don’t believe you have anything to repent of.
Confession is the first step in repentance.
Once you confess that you are a sinner, then you can change your
mind, which is repentance, and turn to Jesus in true faith.
Turning to Jesus at this point is taking the first step of faith or
trust. You cannot trust Jesus
if you haven’t repented, because you’re still trusting yourself.
Greek word “aphiemi” is translated as our English word
“forgive” in the New Testament.
It means to send away. So
when God forgives our sins, He sends them far away, so far away that
there’s no longer any record of them”, but once again, forgiveness is
conditional upon repentance.
verse 6 we see more of John’s unconventional ways.
He looked like a mountain man, and that is what he really was,
because he grew up in the mountains of the wilderness in
verses 7 and 8 we see another part of John’s message.
First he preached repentance for the forgiveness of
sins. Then he preached
about the Messiah that would come after him.
This Messiah was much greater than John.
John did not even feel worthy enough
to stoop down and untie the Messiah’s sandals.
also says that he baptizes with water but the One who would come after him
would baptize with the Holy Spirit. This
is very important to the gospel message.
What John is saying here is that water is the medium which he uses
to baptize people. They come to him in the river and he soaked them with
would not soak His followers with water. He’d soak them with the Holy
Spirit. This initially took
place on the day of Pentecost. As
a side note, the initial giving of the Spirit did not take place in John
20 in the upper room as some suggest.
of the gospel message is that once you repent, and come to Jesus in true
trust (that’s faith) then the Holy Spirit comes into your lives.
This aspect of the Holy Spirit coming to live within the new
believer must be preached and experienced.
Yet way too often in Evangelical circles this part of the gospel is
ignored. What is preached
instead is simply believe. There’s
no mention of receiving, that is, receiving the Holy Spirit when you first
believe. This is what being
“baptized in the Spirit” means. When
one receives the Holy Spirit, it is a baptism.
does not say as much as the other gospel writers concerning Jesus’
baptism. In verses 9 through
11 we see that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee.
Hundreds, if not thousands of men and women came out into the
desert to hear John and to be baptized, but one day unknowingly to
everyone else Jesus came and stood in the midst of the crowd.
He came to John and asked to be baptized.
What a moment that must have been for John, who felt that he was
not worthy to even stoop down and untie Jesus sandals.
Now Jesus wants John to baptize Him.
goes down into the water and then comes up out of the water and the Holy
Spirit comes upon Him as if it were a dove.
Then the voice from heaven says, “you are my Son, whom I love.
With you I am well pleased”. Note here that the voice, which we
understand to be God the Father’s voice, speaks directly to Jesus for
everyone in earshot to hear. God
says to Jesus, and at the same time announced to the world that the One
who was just baptized is the Son of God, the long awaited for Messiah. God
also says that He is well pleased with Jesus and that He loves Him.
What a moment this was. If you read John’s account of Jesus
baptism you’ll get a much clearer picture of what happened since he
spends more time on Jesus’ baptism.
baptism of Jesus was in fact the inauguration of His earthly ministry.
The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus.
He did not come into Him, because Jesus being God had the Holy
Spirit from birth.
Pentecostals use this event as a proof text for the so-called baptism in
the Holy Spirit as a second work of grace.
They say that Jesus was baptized in the Spirit and so should we.
But Jesus’ experience was different than ours.
It was not the same as can be seen in Acts 2, 8, 10, or 19.
In these Scriptures in Acts people did not already have the Holy
Spirit. For them they received
the Spirit for the first time. To
make a long story short, it is my thinking that you cannot use this text
in defense of a second work of grace.
else we should note at this point and that is there is a difference
between the Holy Spirit coming on a person and the Holy Spirit living
within a person. One can have
the Holy Spirit in him, like Jesus, and yet the Holy Spirit can still come
on him. There is more to the
Holy Spirit that can be contained by one person.
when the Holy Spirit came on anyone is the Bible, something dramatic, or
at least visible happened. The
Holy Spirit comes on people in order to do something for the sake of
Jesus. He does not come on
people for the pure fun of it. The
Spirit anoints people with Himself in order to further the sake of Christ.
12 and 13 are just two brief little statements stating that once Jesus was
anointed by the Holy Spirit, He was immediately sent out into the
wilderness where He was tempted by satan for 40 days.
This is all Mark says. To
learn the rest of the story you need to read the other gospel accounts.
is interesting to note that the first thing Jesus had to do in His
ministry was to confront the devil. I
would think that once the devil saw Jesus’ ministry was now beginning,
he felt it was time to try to win Him over to his side.
verse 14 Mark tells us that “after John had been put into prison, Jesus
Galilee Mark says that Jesus “preached the gospel of God”.
One of the major themes in the John’s gospel is that Jesus said
and did whatever His Father wanted Him to do and say because He was
God’s representative on earth. For this reason the gospel that Jesus
preached was the “gospel of God”.
tells us what this gospel was. It
was the fact that the
should understand the word “believe” here, and throughout the New
Testament to mean more than simple mental ascent or agreement to the truth
of the gospel. Jesus is not
saying, “just accept what I’m saying”.
A detailed study of the words believe and faith will show you that
when Jesus says “believe”, He’s saying, “give your lives to the
gospel truth”. Giving
one’s life to what Jesus is saying and merely agreeing mentally to what
He’s saying are two very different things.
should also speak to the term “Kingdom
another way in which the
verses 16 through 18 we see Jesus walking on the shores of the
little while later Jesus saw James and John with their father and helpers
preparing their nets, for they were fishermen too.
Jesus called out to them as He did Simon and Andrew.
They immediately left their father and fellow workers to follow
Jesus. You might wonder what
their father thought of their quick departure from the boats.
Was he in favour of them leaving? Did
he wish they would stay to help?
verse 21 Jesus and the four disciples (we assume the four disciples) went
into the city of
the Sabbath they go into the synagogue and Jesus stands up and teaches.
Understanding how things work in a synagogue meeting, you’d
expect that Jesus was asked to say a few words.
verse 23 we see the people were quite taken with Jesus for He spoke with
authority, nothing like that of the Jewish teachers. We thus should ask,
“what does teaching with authority mean”?
Well first of all the presence of the Holy Spirit was in the midst
of Jesus’ teaching. That’s
authority right there.
there’s the idea that Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush.
Yes, sometimes He spoke in parables that might appear to be
somewhat obscure to some, but when parables were used that was for a
reason. Jesus probably did not
talk over the heads of the people as the Jewish teachers probably did,
using large impressive concepts and words as educated people often do.
Jewish teachers often
gave the impression that they were far above those listening.
I believe Jesus in His humility was on the same level as those He
taught, yet what He said was to the point.
Many teachers can get carried away with their knowledge and bore
those listening. I don’t
think Jesus bored anyone, and whatever He said, He said it as if it was
universal truth, which it was.
Matt. 28 Jesus gives His disciples the authority to go out and preach on
His behalf as His representatives. God
had done the same with Jesus. He
had already gave Jesus the authority to preach and teach on His behalf.
Thus as Jesus did what He was told to do, people could see the
authority He had. He was not merely spouting forth ideas from His own
imagination. He was passing on
the “gospel of God” to all who would hear.
Jesus was talking as seen in verse 24 a man with an evil spirit cries out
saying, “what do you want with us Jesus of Nazareth?
Have you come to destroy us? I
know who you are, the Holy One of God”.
The demon is speaking about the demonic world when he uses the word
“us”. He thinks that Jesus
has come to destroy him and the other demons before the appointed time.
I’m not sure that the demons knew, or knows when that appointed
time is. But there is an appointed time.
God has a time table that He follows.
crying out of this evil spirit in the midst of this gathering must have
been a little discomforting to many. First
of all to have a man cry such a thing would be disturbing, but to
understand it to be demonic would even be worse.
others were shocked by this event, Jesus
wasn’t. I see Jesus speaking
calmly yet securely here. He
tells the demon to “be quiet and to come out of the man”.
That’s all there was to it. Nothing
dramatic on the part of Jesus. The
demon however was dramatic and came out of the man with a shriek,
obviously a way to attract attention.
Jesus didn’t need to dramatize the event.
He had the power of His word and the demon had to obey.
We often dramatize the gospel we preach because we use the
dramatization as a tool, but in one sense of the word it is a substitute
for God’s power. In all we
do, we should rely more on the Holy Spirit and less on our dramatization.
this point the people in the gathering were more amazed than ever at
Jesus’ teaching. This always
makes me smile a bit. When
Jesus casts out a demon, the people are amazed at His teaching.
While casting out demons is not necessarily new teaching, but to
these people this was a new thing. They
had never seen demons obey anyone before.
So the news of Jesus began to spread pretty rapidly from that time
this section we see Jesus with the above mentioned 4 disciples going to
Simon and Andrews home. We
note that both brothers lived in this home.
We know that Simon (Peter) was married, and so his wife and
children lived in this home.
And we know from the text that Simon’s wife’s mother lived in
this home. This does not
include any other brothers or sisters.
So there’s a good chance that many people lived under the same
mother-in-law was sick with a bad fever and when they got to the house,
Jesus took her by the hand and healed her.
verses 32 to 34 we learn that come evening the whole town appeared at
Simon’s door with sick people. The
word was now out that Jesus had the ability to make sick people better and
to cast out demons.
verse 34 Mark says that “Jesus healed many”.
On the surface that would suggest that Jesus healed many, but not
all. Yet from Mathew’s and
Luke’s account of this event, we know He healed “all” which is many
in the eyes of Mark. Many can
also be seen in light of verse 32 to where “all” the town came to
Jesus. Therefore Jesus healed
“many” of the “all”,
because not all were sick.
the demons Mark says that Jesus did not allow them to speak “because
they knew who He was”. Earlier
that morning in the synagogue the demon called out and announced that
Jesus was the Son of God. It
is clear that Jesus did not want that announced to this crowd at this
a long evening of healing people, we see in verse 35 that Jesus gets up
real early – “while it was still dark”
He found a solitary place where he could pray, but Simon and the
others found Him and told Him that everyone was looking for Him.
Jesus was now in great demand because of the healings.
People had now found a cure for all their sickness, so why
wouldn’t everyone be looking for Him.
Jesus’ response was to go on to other cities in
verses 40 to 42 we see a man with leprosy come to Jesus begging to be
healed. Jesus “had
compassion on him” and healed the man immediately.
It’s clear that Jesus felt great compassion for the downtrodden.
There’s no mention of Jesus having compassion for the Pharisees, but we
often see him having compassion for the sick, the poor, and for children,
those who find it hard to make their own way in society.
verses 43 and 44 Jesus tells this man to go to the priest and obey the Law
of Moses and go through the proper ceremony of cleansing as prescribed in
Law. (Lev. 14) Yet Jesus didn’t want this man to tell anyone about what
had happened. I would think that this would apply especially to the priest
who he would see at the synagogue.
time was not ready for Jesus to be captured.
For this reason Jesus often told people not to tell others about
their healing this early in His ministry.
It is clear to me throughout Scripture that God has a time table of
events that will be done in the exact time that He has decided.
The length of Jesus’ ministry was already decided by His Father,
and when the time came, it would not be one day early or one day late.
should make a comment on the Law of Moses here because this will come up
many times throughout the gospels. When
Jesus said these words He and those listening were living in Old Testament
times, although you might say that Jesus’ three years of ministry might
be a transition period between the Old and New Testament.
Yet when it comes right down to it, the Old Testament ended at the
cross, along with the Law. But
until that time, Jesus had to obey the Law, and He had to tell others to
do so to. The reason for this
is because while on earth, Jesus had to fulfill every aspect of the Law
for us. He came not to destroy
the Law but to fulfill it, and that means obey it to the letter.
He did so on behalf of every Jew.
We should also note the humility of the man with leprosy. You might say that he had no other choice than to be humble, seeing the lowly state that he was in. Lepers in those days were outcasts. It’s amazing that this man even got through the crowd without someone steering him away. This man was willing to remain sick if that was Jesus’ will, but it wasn’t.
In verse 45 we see that the man was so excited that he did not do as Jesus asked him to do. He told everyone what had happened. This made it next to impossible for Jesus to go into the towns that He wanted to go in, because of all the crowds. He therefore stayed outside of the many towns in lonely places and the crowds came to Him.