John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
The Baptism of Jesus
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Temptation of Jesus
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Jesus Begins His Ministry
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
Jesus Calls the First Disciples
Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Jesus Heals a Man with an Unclean Spirit
And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes. And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
Jesus Heals Many
And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Jesus Preaches in Galilee
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Jesus Cleanses a Leper
And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
Mark 1 Commentary
by Hank Workman
A man running naked… a deserter… eventually, a pastor… who was this man?
“For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” -Ephesians 2:10
The traitor led a group of men through the shadows of the garden. To their right was a group laying in sleep. Yet, all their eyes fixed on one laying on the ground in prayer. He greeted him with a kiss. It was then all hell broke loose. Like ravenous wolves, they pounced on their prey swinging and punching. Like a gunshot had been fired, the sleepyheads awoke and ultimately scrambled.
Hauling off on the solitary man, the one who had led the pack stood there simply watching. But a young man stood away from the action among the trees and watched the entire event take place. Dressed in his nightshirt, he was unaware that some were following him. Picking up the pace, they jumped. Yet, their strength was nothing in comparison to his youthfulness. He literally wrestled his way out of his clothes and fled into the shadows completely naked.
He had been born to a wealthy family. In time, his home would be where the early church met. His mother was a widow and he had a cousin who would take over leading this young one into manhood. Although his mother had come to believe in Jesus, for her son it would be a journey.
He would find himself at the center of a dispute where the two leading evangelists would split. His life was a series of ups and downs. But one thing is for certain, John Mark is a testimony to the incredible patience of Jesus and a calling that stands upon each and every one of us.
When he came to accept Jesus as Savior is unsure. Was it immediately after the resurrection? Was he there when Jesus presented himself to the Believers as they hid? Was it after Peter had miraculously been released from that prison cell and stood in the center of his mother’s house in the wee hours of the night telling how an angel had walked him out of jail as the church prayed? Or was it simply through his beloved cousin Barnabas who had taken him under his wing and he saw firsthand what it meant to follow Jesus? Whenever it was, John Mark would eventually become an effective leader. However, he had to overcome a lot in himself to do so.
Just like us.
Effective living is not measured as much by what we accomplish as by what we overcome in order to accomplish it.
John Mark would be the very first one to put into writing the life of Jesus. At one point he became Peter’s apprentice, more than likely taking notes from his life of walking with Jesus. The result would be the Gospel of Mark was written which featured Jesus as a Man of action. His true identity revealed through rapid-fire snapshots. Jesus is on the move in his writing. But not only from Peter’s perspective; Mark had experienced it firsthand of the grace of Jesus meeting him in all his personal struggles and moving boldly forward in his life calling.
Oh, personal struggles, they can seem to be the Achilles Heel of each of us. They often take precedent. They skew our perspective. They can if not reigned in be a determining factor if we will pursue the good works God has ordained for us. There is no doubt Jesus calls each of us to wrestle through our own personal struggles. And as He is so close to us, He wrestles with us through those things.
Jesus is the greatest leader calling you forward beyond where you are. Jesus is the truest friend who loves you deeply, even if your tendency is to cut and run. Jesus is the most challenging and encouraging friend, speaking courageous words in the face of whatever hardship and struggle you’re going through.
John Mark ran in circles of some of the greatest men from the New Testament and ultimately completed the good works God had set before him. He would go with Peter to Babylon, the epicenter of Jewish studies as Peter mentions in his first letter (1 Peter 5:13). He would become like a son to him as he became his apprentice. He would move from there to be a very important person to Paul.
In time he would represent Paul in Colossae. He would travel with Timothy to Asia Minor and minister in Ephesus. As things would come full circle in time he would join Peter again while in Rome and become his interpreter. Ultimately he would establish a church in Alexandria Egypt.
Just like John Mark discovering God had a plan and work for his life God has a plan for each of our lives. May we be honest with our struggles. May we work through and overcome our past. May we embrace the good work God has begun in each of us and participate in the completed project of a life surrendered to Him.
Mark 1 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
It’s fascinating to identify the different writing styles of the Gospel authors. Matthew began with genealogy. His mission was to write to the Jews and prove that Jesus was the heir to David’s throne. Luke opens with the Savior’s birth because his focus was on the sympathetic ministry of the Son of Man. John’s Gospel begins with eternity which is no surprise considering he also penned Revelation. His focus was to convince his readers that Jesus was the Son of God. So, with all that said, where does Mark’s Gospel fit in?
Mark was writing to the Romans and his theme centers around servanthood. In his book, an emphasis is placed on the works of Jesus both physically and spiritually as he serves those in need. When reading Mark, you will notice that the stories contain more of what Jesus did rather than what He said. Knowing this, it is not surprising that we see no genealogy or record of birth. Mark gets to the action with a concise and direct style. Just consider all the ground he covers in Mark 1 alone!
Many believe that Mark was converted by Peter and served as his “personal interpreter.” Although this is unclear, we know with certainty that Peter had a close relationship with Mark because he calls him “my son” in 1 Peter 5:13.
This is important to know because at the beginning of Paul’s first missionary journey Mark was considered a failure. He deserted the group and went back to Jerusalem. I can only imagine the conversations that he had with Peter following that decision.
Peter, of course, had experienced great failure. He denied Jesus and went back to fishing after the crucifixion. However, through perseverance, repentance, and faith, he was restored. In time, we find that Mark was also restored. Paul himself asks for Mark by name in 2 Timothy 4 calling him “useful for ministry.”
Mark 1 begins with John the Baptist. Interestingly, traditional Judaism would have recognized baptism as purification before converting to the Jewish religion. It was also a common practice required before entering the temple or tabernacle. Ritual purity could be lost and would have to be repeated over and over. John’s message differed in that it was not a purification process to become religious, but forgiveness of sin directly from God. His message foretold the spiritual cleansing that Jesus would accomplish once and for all. This was the establishment of a relationship.
According to Jewish writings, Torah-teachers (also known as scribes) were not ordained as rabbis. They were not permitted to bring new interpretations of the text (which Jesus did a lot) or even make legal judgments. This is one reason why people were so amazed by Jesus’ teaching style. He immediately stepped onto the scene with the authority of a rabbi.
Second, it was well-known in Jewish culture that a rabbi would never judge contrary to his own rabbi’s halakhah (judgment of the law). Jesus had no rabbi but taught with absolute authority. He even commanded authority over unclean spirits. This shocked the people and clearly demonstrated that His power was not taught by man but could only come from God Himself.
The rapid-fire account of the early life of Jesus here in Mark 1 packs quite a punch in 45 concise verses. If you like action movies, Mark is your preferred Gospel account!