About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 1:1-9    ch.  1:10-13   ch.1-14-20    ch. 1:21-28   

 ch. 1:29-34    ch. 1:35-39    ch. 1:40-45

My 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. 





Mark 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 Rome with Peter.


Paul 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 Syria and Cilicia, while Barnabas and Mark went west to the island of Cyprus.


In 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.


In 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 Rome .  So we see Mark in Paul’s life at the very end.


It is understood that Peter came to what he called Babylon (1 Pet. 5:13) which most scholars take as Rome .  Here Mark was with Peter at the end of his life.


Although scholars don’t believe that Mark was around when Jesus walked in Galilee , he was around in the earlier days of the church as noted earlier.  Most scholars feel quite convinced because of historical evidence that Mark got most of the content for his book from Peter since they appear to have spent a lot of time together.


Tradition also has it that Mark ended up in Alexandria Egypt where he headed up the church there.


Most scholars agree that Mark is directing his account mostly to the Gentile world.


John The Baptist Prepares The Way (ch.1:1-9)


Mark 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.


Mark 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. 


Liberals 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. 


The 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.


The 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 Israel for the most part failed to act accordingly. 


Verse 4 says that John came baptizing in the wilderness.  Notice he did not go to a synagogue, not to the temple in Jerusalem. He was very unconventional in his approach.  He most likely would not have been accepted in the Jewish places of worship anyway.  Besides, no matter how unconventional his approach was, it worked.  He got the crowds, and he got his message out to the people.


John’s 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.  


Along 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’.                 


In verse 5 we see that John got the crowds from all over Judea and from Jerusalem.  Many people confessed their sins and were baptized by him, although we know from other places in Scripture not everyone was confessing sins.  The Jewish leadership was not impressed by John. 


We 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.   


The 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.     


In 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 Galilee.   He ate locusts and wild honey and he dressed in clothes made of camel’s hair. 


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.


John 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 water.


Jesus 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.


Part 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.    


The Baptism And Temptation Of Jesus (ch. 1:9-13)


Mark 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.


Jesus 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.  


The 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. 


Many 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.


Something 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. 


Also, 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.


Verses 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. 


It 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. 


The Calling Of The First Disciples (ch. 1:14-20)


In verse 14 Mark tells us that “after John had been put into prison, Jesus went into Galilee ”.  We should note that Jesus didn’t go into Jerusalem where the more influential Jews lived, but He went into the county-side of Galilee, north of Jerusalem , Samaria being in between Galilee and Jerusalem.


In 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”.


Mark tells us what this gospel was.  It was the fact that the Kingdom of God is near, therefore repent and believe.  Once again, we see the word repent, and it always comes before believing.  First one repents and then he believes.  Repentance some from the convicting power of the Holy Spirit that causes one to see that their way of life is wrong.  Repentance is simply changing your mind.  You begin to think in terms that Jesus’ ways are right, not your own.  This eventually shows up in the way you live.  Your actions change too.  Once you repent you can take the trust step towards giving your life to Jesus.  Giving your life to Jesus at this point is the first step of faith.  Faith is not simply agreeing with the truth of Jesus.  It is giving your life to Him.    


We 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.       


We should also speak to the term “Kingdom of God ”, and what that means.  What did Jesus mean when He said “the Kingdom of God is near”?  Did He mean the future Kingdom when He’d reign of earth with a scepter  of iron. Futurists would see this as the thousand years of peace as described in Revelation.  I think Jesus spoke of a closer Kingdom than that.  The Kingdom of God would first come into people’s hearts by the Holy Spirit before it came to the world as it will at the end of this age.  On the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came to live within the believer, thus that Kingdom of God came to these people in a spiritual sense.  The Kingdom is first spiritual, and then at the end of the age will also be material. 


There’s another way in which the Kingdom of God was near and that is because the King of the Kingdom was physically near to these people.  They may not have fully understood this fact, but fact it was.        


In verses 16 through 18 we see Jesus walking on the shores of the Sea of Galilee .  He saw Simon and Andrew fishing because they were fishermen.  Jesus asked them to follow Him and He’d make them fishers of men.  Was this all that Jesus said to these two men?  Might He have said other words of explanation and clarification?  I wouldn’t be surprised that Jesus sat down and conversed with Simon and Andrew before He called them to be His disciples.  There’s also a good chance that they had heard of Jesus and when Jesus spoke the Holy Spirit spoke to their hearts and encouraged them to do as Jesus said.


A 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? 


Jesus Drives Out An Evil Spirit (ch.1:21-28)


In verse 21 Jesus and the four disciples (we assume the four disciples) went into the city of Capernaum  which was on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee .  This is where Peter lived. 


On 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.


In 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.


Then 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.


In 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.   


As 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.


The 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.   

If 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.


At 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 on.


Jesus Heals Many (ch.1:29-34)


In 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 roof.


Simon’s 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.


In 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.


In 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.


Concerning 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 moment.


Jesus Prays In A Solitary  Place   (ch.1:35-39)


After 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.


Yet Jesus’ response was to go on to other cities in Galilee because there were others that needed to hear His message and be healed as well.  We note here as well that Jesus stays in Galilee.  The time was not yet ready for Him to go to Jerusalem , because He knew what would take place there.  It is also interesting to note that Jesus goes to Jerusalem each Passover. He must fulfill the Law of Moses. 



A Man With Leprosy  (ch. 1:40-45)



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.


In 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.


The 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.


We 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.

Next Chapter - Mark 2


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