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Chapter 1


Gospel of Mark Chapter One
Commentary by Pastor Ron Beckham

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Audio Sermon – Mark 1

Service and Sacrifice

This “gospel” (“good news”) can be summed up by Mark 10:45 – “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark’s portrait of Jesus is painted in the blood, sweat and tears of our Lord’s service and sacrifice.

The human author of this book, originally called “Kata Marcon” ("according to Mark”) was known by his Latin name, "Marcus,” but he also had the Jewish name “John.” Acts 12:12, 25 and 15:37, referred to him as “John, whose surname was Mark.”

Mark’s mother, Mary, was the owner of a large house that was used as a church by early believers in Jerusalem.  Jesus’ apostle, Peter, must have visited the house often because the servant girl recognized his voice at the gate (Acts 12:13-16). Barnabas was Mark’s cousin or uncle (Colossians 4:10). Peter was likely the one who led Mark to Christ because he called him, “Mark my son” in 1 Peter 5:13.  The Early Church held that many of the facts of this gospel were recalled by Peter, told to Mark, and then were written by this younger man.

The Gospel of Matthew begins with a genealogy and the events of the birth of Jesus.  Luke starts out with the birth of John the Baptist and Christ’s entry into this world. John takes us back to the unthinkable, into eternity past, where we learn that Jesus Christ is our Creator and our God.  Mark starts us out at the time when John was baptizing in the River Jordan, stating in Verse 1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” 

John the Baptist is described by Mark in Verse 2 as a “refiner’s fire,” a man like “launderer’s soap… a refiner and purifier of silver,” who would “purify the priests… that they may offer to the Lord an offering of righteousness.” John the Baptist is the “messenger” of Malachi 3:1-2 and the “voice of one crying in the wilderness,” in Isaiah 40:3 and Mark 1:2.  He prepared the way for Jesus by bringing people to repentance, which made them open to the Lord. In Verse 5 we find that his ministry was extremely successful.  People were coming from everywhere in the region, “confessing their sins” and being baptized, immersed for their sins in water.

John was a rough man, as seen in Verse 6, “clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.”  Note in Verses 7-8 that John knew and said that he did not come on his own behalf.  Everyone who is in ministry and speaks for God needs to have the heart of John the Baptist. We either speak for God or we should be quiet.

And can you imagine Verse 8?  Everyone on earth is lonely and God gives us something, Someone of Himself who is even more than just a trusted friend.  John said about Jesus: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  God the Holy Spirit is INSIDE those who trust in the Lord, helping us know what to do, what to say and He sanctifies us; makes us clean.

John the Baptist was called by God to ready the people for the advent of Christ, who suddenly was in front of him at the moment (Verse 9), asking to be baptized. He was baptized for you, for me and for everyone who has ever lived or will live. Jesus was and is innocent; you and I are guilty. The sins washed away at this moment and on the cross – were yours and mine.

In Verse 10-12, we are shown Almighty God like few in history have understood. He is the Son of God who was baptized for us and would die in our place for our sins.  God is also the Father who now spoke from heaven and identified His Son.  And God is the Holy Spirit, given into the hearts and lives of those who trust in the Son.  “…coming up from the water, Jesus saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.”  “Then a voice came from heaven: ‘You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” In these few words, we see God.

And then incredibly in Verse 12, “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness.”  Can you imagine?  There He was in Verse 13 “… in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.

Verse 14 is a brief mention of John the Baptist’s imprisonment: “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.” God is certainly full of surprises. The Son of God was tempted in the wilderness and God’s prophet went to prison.  Many of God’s prophets have suffered and died.  John’s ministry was almost complete and he would now be rescued from this world, as Jesus began to speak the words of Verse 15 - “… The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel,” which is essentially the same as John’s message seen in Verse 4.

Verses 16-20 contain Jesus’ call to fishermen named, Simon Peter, his brother Andrew, and the brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee. He spoke the words, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”  Do you want to be called by the Lord?  You probably will be, if you haven’t been already.  “Many are called,” as Jesus said in Matthew 20:16, but He also added, “few are chosen.”  The “few” who are chosen are those who say “yes” to His call. Note the response in Verse 18: “They left their nets and followed Him,” as all of us should.

In Verses 21-22, they went to Capernaum, where Jesus entered the synagogue and taught in an astonishing manner.  Instead of just quoting former teachers, He spoke words that came from God. In the synagogue, a demon-possessed man “cried out… ‘Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!’… Jesus rebuked him, saying, Be quiet, and come out of him!’” (Verses 23-25). “…The unclean spirit… convulsed him… cried out with a loud voice (and) came out of him. All were amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him. And… His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee” (Verses 26-28).

Next we see the house of Simon Peter and his brother, where Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever.  Jesus took her by the hand and she was healed (Verses 29-31).  Other sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Him and he healed them all. (Verses 32-34). It is interesting in Verse 34 that He did not allow the demons to speak “because they knew Him.”

In Verses 35-37, Jesus arose early and prayed in a solitary place.  His disciples, who did not understand the necessity of prayer, found Him and said, “Everyone is looking for You.”  Then at His command, instead of returning, they went to other towns, where he preached and cast out demons (Verses 38-39).  Verses 40-44 tells us of a leper who had the faith to be healed.  “Jesus, moved with compassion… touched him.” The man was instantly “cleansed” and was told to go to the priest and receive the elaborate ritual seen in Leviticus 14.

The chapter ends with Verse 45 - crowds came to Him from everywhere in the region, until Jesus could no longer enter the cities but could only be in deserted places, but still “they came to Him from every direction.”  And so we come to our Lord from every place and time.

Dear Lord, You are the healer of our bodies, minds, and best of all, you save us from our sins.  We come to You now. Please save, heal and forgive us.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

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