Mark was about twenty years of age when Jesus was crucified, and was probably the young man wearing nothing but a loin cloth around his naked body who fled, leaving the cloth behind when Jesus was arrested in the garden. (See Mark 14:51-52.)
Mark was an associate of both Paul and Barnabus, and accompanied them on some of their missionary trips. It is believed that Mark's Gospel was the first of the four to be written. Because Mark explained Jewish customs and translated Aramaic words he must have been writing to Gentile readers.
Mark recorded only nine of the seventy parables of Jesus which the four Gospels relate, but he included eighteen of the thirty-five miracles. Mark was concerned with action-the things Jesus did. For this reason, his style is pointed and forceful with very little interpretation.
I. Preparations Are Made (Mk. 1:1-15)
A. Preparation for Jesus. v1-8
1. Mark didn't begin his book with the birth of Jesus as Matthew and Luke did.
a. Mark began with the "gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
b. The word "gospel" means "good news"; but what is this good news?
c. Mark constantly presents us with questions-but leaves us to find the answers.
2. Mark introduced John the Baptist as the messenger God.
a. The "voice of one saying in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of the Lord"' (Mark 1:3).
b. John knew he was a prophet, the answer to Isaiah's prophecy, and he dressed like a prophet.
c. Several of the prophets, including Elijah, wore clothing made of camel's hair and, probably to show their disdain for self-indulgence, ate only those things they could find in the desert.
3. When John came, the Jews had not heard a prophet's voice in four hundred years.
a. The people were excited when they heard about this prophet who had a fresh word from the Lord.
b. They came from all over the Judean countryside and from Jerusalem to hear him.
c. They came confessing their sins, and John baptized them in the Jordan.
d. Then he made a startling announcement:
Mark 1:7-8, "And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost."
4. In Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit only came upon the Leaders of God's people.
a. But John was speaking to common people not kings or priests or prophets.
b. So, how could this be?
c. Whatever John meant, the people recognized their need for something more than what the Pharisees and Sadducees were offering them.
d. And John was getting them ready for the coming of the Messiah.
e. How were the people being prepared for the coming of the Messiah?
f. God sent His messenger, John the Baptist, to announce the coming of Messiah and John called for repentance and baptism.
B. Preparation of Jesus. v9-15
1. Jesus came to be baptized by John.
a. Although He was sinless, His baptism symbolized His willingness to die for us, and foreshadowed His death and resurrection.
b. Humbly Jesus identified with us, teaching us that our old life must die if we are to rise with Him.
2. To prepare Jesus for His ministry, the Holy Spirit came upon Him "like a dove."
a. Why does Mark use the dove as a symbol for the Holy Spirit?
b. Perhaps because the dove is gentle, and faithful to one mate.
c. He may also be pointing us to the sacrifice Jesus had come to offer for mankind, since the white dove was offered as a sacrifice by the poor.
d. As the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, God the Father identified His Son in v11.
3. Jesus was prepared for His ministry by forty days in the desert.
a. In the Bible, the wilderness, the sea, and the desert are usually places of testing.
b. The number "forty" may be significant here, a symbol of completeness, because Satan tempted Jesus in the desert in all areas-body, soul, and spirit.
c. We are reminded, too, that Moses spent forty days in the desert fasting before receiving the Law from God.
d. Like Moses, Jesus fasted for forty days before beginning His work of bringing to us the New Covenant.
II. Jesus Takes Authority. 1:16-2:5
A. Authority to call men. v16-20
1. When Jesus said to Simon and Andrew, "Come, after me," Mark said, "they left their nets and followed him."
2. When He called James and John, they left their father, their boat, and their fishing business, and followed Him.
3. Later, Jesus called Levi (Matthew), the tax collector: "Follow me. " And "he arose and followed him"
4. Although these men were not sure who Jesus was, they recognized His authority to call them to His service.
5. The men Jesus first called to follow Him were simple fishermen and a hated tax collector.
a. We shouldn't be amazed today when we see God working through someone who has no seminary training and little education, but does have a deep faith and understanding of God's Word.
b. God looks for men and women who are open and willing to obey Him at once when He calls, "Follow me."
B. Authority to teach men. v21-22
1. Jesus didn't begin His ministry in secret.
2. He came announcing that the "kingdom of God is at hand."
3. He began to teach in the synagogue at Capernaum on the Sabbath.
4. Notice the people's reaction to His teaching:
Mark 1:22, "And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes."
a. The people were so astonished that they talked among them- selves and asked, "What is this? What new doctrine is this?" v27
b. They recognized that the teaching of Jesus was different from that of the Pharisees and Sadducees-and the difference was the authority with which Jesus taught.
C. Authority to command evil spirits. v23-28 & 3:7-12
1. We might wonder what an unclean spirit was doing in a man who came to the synagogue at Capernaum.
2. But what Mark wants us to see is the authority of Jesus in dealing with the problem.
3. The spirit immediately recognized Jesus and knew His mission.
4. It cried out:
Mark 1:24, "Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God."
5. Jesus gave two stern commands: "Be quiet!" and "Come out of him!"
6. The evil spirit had no choice but to obey. (a similar passage is found in 3:7-12)
D. Authority to heal the sick. v29-
1. There is a progression of Jesus' authority in the three stories of healings: Simon Peter's mother-in- law, the leper, and the paralytic.
a. First, when Jesus left the synagogue at Capernaum, He was told that Simon's mother in law was ill with a fever.
1) Jesus came and took her hand and lifted her up.
2) The result? Immediately the fever left her. And she served them.
3) Jesus showed His authority over man's body.
b. Next, after leaving Capernaum, Jesus met a leper who kneeled before him and begged, "...If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." v40
1) Of course Jesus was willing!
2) We are told that He was "moved with compassion."
3) Jesus reached out his hand, touched the man, and said, "I will; be thou clean." v41
4) The leper was cured immediately.
5) In this instance, not only did Jesus heal the man's body, but He also healed his mind.
6) Because lepers were outcasts in Jesus' day, this man was unsure that Jesus would consider him worthy of attention.
7) But after Jesus healed him, he went everywhere spreading the news-filled with joy!
8) Of course, this wasn't what Jesus told him to do.
9) The result of this disobedience was that people came to Jesus from everywhere to be healed, and His work preaching was hindered.
c. The third incident occurred when Jesus returned to Capernaum.
1) The house in which Jesus was preaching was so crowded with people that four men were unable to get their friend, a paralytic, to Jesus
2) Finally they cut a hole in the roof and lowered the man through the hole to the feet of Jesus.
3) "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." v5
4) Jesus demonstrated His authority to heal the whole man-body, soul, and spirit.
2. But He didn't heal everyone.
a. We are only told that he "...healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils..."
b. Jesus was teaching people about His authority, and each incident that Mark included in his Gospel was meant to teach something about Jesus and His relationship to us.
III. Jesus Meets Conflict. 2:6-3:12
A. Jesus forgave sins. v6-12
1. When Jesus healed the paralytic, some teachers of the law were present and heard Jesus say, "Son, thy sins be forgiven thee."
2. They didn't openly accuse Jesus, but were thinking that Jesus was overstepping his bounds.
3. "...Who can forgive sins but God only?" they asked themselves
4. Jesus knew what they were thinking, but He didn't back down.
5. He told them why He had healed the man spiritually as well as physically. v10
6. The teachers must have recognized Jesus' use of the title "Son of Man" as His declaration that He was the long-expected Messiah.
a. The title was used by the prophet Daniel for the Messiah. cf Dan. 7:13
b. And they were familiar with the Scriptures.
c. Imagine their shock at hearing such a declaration, so they accused Him of blasphemy.
7. The people who saw the miracle of the paralytic responded differently.
a. They praised God.
b. Saying, "We never saw it on this fashion!" v12
B. Jesus ate with sinners. v13-20
1. Once again, Jesus came into conflict with the teachers of the law.
2. He and his disciples ate with tax collectors and sinners at Levi's house...something no good Pharisee would do.
3. When the teachers questioned the disciples about Jesus eating with such disreputable people, Jesus overheard and answered them. v17
4. The teachers of the law certainly didn't consider themselves sinners, and until they did, Jesus could not be their physician.
C. Jesus brought new teaching. v21-22
1. In the laws given to Moses, fasting was required only on the Day of Atonement, but by the time of Jesus, the Pharisees were fasting twice a week.
2. John's disciples may have been fasting and praying because John was in prison.
3. Regardless, the disciples of Jesus weren't fasting and some of the people wanted to know why.
4. Jesus answered them by giving three illustrations.
a. First, He compared Himself to a bridegroom.
1) Guests don't fast while the bridegroom is with them, He explained.
2) A Jewish wedding celebration usually lasted a week and was a joyous time of feasting.
b. Second, Jesus said that no one sews a new piece of fabric on an old garment.
1) Doing so would only make the tear worse.
2) The new fabric would shrink up when washed and create all sorts of problems.
c. Third, Jesus said you don't put new wine into old bottles.
1) The bottles were often made of goatskin.
2) The wine would eventually expand due to fermentation
3) Unless the bottles were new and pliable, the expansion would cause them to burst.
5. The Jews had added so many laws, so many strict interpretations to the teaching of Moses and the prophets, that Jesus knew He could not pour His teaching into these old forms.
D. Jesus took authority over the Sabbath. 2:23-3:6
1. When Jesus allowed His disciples to pick grain from the fields on the Sabbath so they might have something to eat, the Pharisees questioned Him.
2. Pharisees always prided themselves in knowing the law.
3. But Jesus distinguished between the law of Moses and the traditional oral law of the scribes.
4. By His answer, Jesus claimed authority over the Sabbath-and over the law.
5. Later, when Jesus healed a man with a shriveled hand in the Synagogue on the Sabbath, He posed an interesting question to His accusers. note: 3:4
6. They were silent, but by their action they answered the question.
a. They left Jesus and began to plot with the Harridans to kill Him.
b. Note that Jesus was grieved because their hearts were so hard.
c. Organized Judaism hadn't responded appropriately to Jesus.
d. From that day, Jesus withdrew with His disciples, making a decisive break.
e. Hardened hearts will always separate us from Jesus.
(Note: We looked at verses 7-12 earlier when we were discussing Jesus' authority over evil spirits. We will cover v13-19 later in our study)
E. Jesus met strong opposition. v20-30
1. While the scribes and Pharisees rejected Jesus, crowds of people didn't. cf v20-21
2. The teachers of the law came from Jerusalem and accused Him of being possessed by Beelzebub.
3. Jesus pointed out to the "righteous" teachers that their argument did not make sense.
a. He was casting out demons, healing, and bringing good news.
b. He was driving out Satan-and a kingdom divided against itself, cannot stand.
c. Jesus came to bind the strong man and spoil his house.
4. When Jesus first began His ministry He withstood the temptations of Satan in the wilderness.
5. He cast the unclean spirits out of the man in the synagogue.
6. He was fighting a spiritual battle.
a. In accusing Jesus of being possessed by an evil spirit, the scribes blasphemed against the Holy Spirit.
b. Jesus said this was a sin that is unforgivable.
c. Jesus came as the only mediator between God and man.
d. He ministered by the power of the Holy Spirit.
e. In accusing Jesus of working through Satan's power, the scribes cut off their only means of forgiveness and salvation.
f. Satan cannot forgive sins-or restore us to God.
1) Only God can do this.
2) Rejecting Jesus is serious sin with eternal consequences.
IV. Jesus Establishes Relationships.
A. Jesus appointed twelve apostles. v13-19
1. Once again Jesus called men to Him-this time the twelve whom He had chosen.
2. Unlike the teachers of the Law, these responded obediently to Jesus. He "called"; they "came."
3. Jesus called the twelve to be His disciples for three purposes:
a. To be with Him.
b. To preach.
c. To have power to heal the sick and cast out demons. v14-15
4. When Jesus calls us to follow Him today, to be His disciples, He calls us for the same purposes.
a. First, we are to spend time with Him.
b. Second, we are to teach others all that we know about our God.
c. And third, we are to enter the spiritual battle against Satan and all his evil.
B. Jesus defined His family. v31-34
1. Just after the incident with the teachers of the law and Jesus' lesson on blaspheming against the Holy Spirit, He taught another important lesson.
2. He wanted the people to see the clear division that was developing between those who were eager to follow Him and those who were rejecting him.
3. Note the theme of Outside/Inside.
a. Someone told Jesus that His mother and brothers were outside the house looking for Him.
b. But Jesus' thoughts were on a much larger family.
c. Some people were standing outside; others were seated around Him in a circle.
d. Those on the outside were asking, looking for Jesus.
e. But He turned to those "sitting round about Him" and identified them as His family.
f. Why was this group "inside" His family? Jesus said it was because they were doing God's will.