Daily Family Worship

Mark 1: The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry

by | Jan 29, 2024


This blessed Gospel that we are now about to study was written, under Divine inspiration, by a man named Mark. The Gospel of Mark emphasizes a different focus on the Savior’s ministry than that which we saw in Matthew’s record, but this makes sense when we consider the people for whom these records were originally written. Matthew’s primary audience was the Jews; and accordingly, he chiefly pictures Christ as the long-awaited Kingly Messiah that was to descend from David’s family. But Mark, on the other hand, wrote his Gospel with a Gentile (non-Jewish) readership in mind. Hence he almost never quotes from the Old Testament Scriptures (as Matthew did), for very few of his original readers would have been familiar with them. We also find Mark repeatedly pausing in his narratives to explain some Hebrew word or custom, which would be puzzling to someone who was not a Jew. And instead of portraying the Redeemer as the Kingly Messiah from David’s royal family, Mark laid emphasis on Jesus being the Suffering Servant, Who came to labor and toil for the benefit and blessing of mankind. This representation of Jesus would have been very appealing to the common man in Mark’s day. In particular, the lower and laboring classes of society during the time of the Roman Empire would have been able to relate very well to this idea of a Savior Who came alongside of them – sweating, serving, and suffering on their behalf!

Mark does not begin his history of Jesus Christ as Matthew did, with an account of His birth; but rather, he commences at the time when John the Baptizer began to preach (verses 1-5) – for it was then that the Gospel might be said to begin. It was necessary that when Christ would visit this fallen and ruined world, a messenger must be sent before Him to prepare people’s minds to properly receive Him. In the same manner, the heart of each individual person must be prepared by the preaching of repentance, in order that the Savior may find a welcome there. The hard and stony heart must be broken, and the crooked paths of the affections must be straightened, in order to prepare the way of the Lord. Then, in such a state of mind as this, how sweet to the sinner will be the assurance that Jesus came into the world to forgive sins!

Jesus came down from Nazareth at the beginning of His public ministry, so that He might be baptized by John at the Jordan River. It is very remarkable that after His baptism, we are told that the Holy Spirit immediately drove Him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (verses 9-13). Here is a clear picture of what will follow the baptism of each of the Lord’s children, in every case. This world is indeed a wilderness, where no one can escape from the devil’s temptations; nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is with us to help us fight against him.

In verses 14-20, we observe that those whom Jesus honored by choosing them to be His messengers of mercy to mankind were poor fishermen. When He called Simon Peter and Andrew to follow Him, they were engaged in their humble occupation; but thenceforth, He promised them a far nobler employment, for they were to become fishers of men. Our Lord thus teaches us to regard the labor of the fisherman as a picture of the work of His ministers. Yet we must observe that there is a great difference; for fish are caught to be destroyed, but people’s souls are caught in order to be saved!

We next find that Jesus was acknowledged by the devils (verses 21-28). They knew Him, but the knowledge did them no good; for they were afraid of Him, and only begged Him to leave them alone. O that our belief in Jesus may be different from the statements of the unclean spirit who could say, “I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God!” Are you wondering what more we can say? Can we add that we know Him as the One Who has saved us from the wrath of God which our sins deserved? Until we can say this, we are not safe.

How wise it was of Simon and Andrew to make known to their Lord the trouble and sorrow which existed in their home, which He entered and blessed with His presence (verses 29-34). Not that our blessed Lord is ignorant of anything; but if we want assistance from Him, we must seek it. Therefore, it was wise and right that since Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever, they should tell Him of her sad condition. Not only did the fever leave her when Jesus lifted her up, but that weakness which is the usual effect of fever also left her; for she was able to immediately enter upon active employment.

When we are here told that Jesus Christ arose long before daylight in order that He might have time for prayer (verses 35-39), surely we must feel ashamed of our own self-indulgent and careless habits! Who among us is thus willing to rise early, in order to secure time for prayer? Our religious state of mind cannot be better proved than by considering what pleasure we take by drawing near to God in prayer.

Leprosy (verses 40-45) is a loathsome, horrible, and incurable complaint. Therefore, it may well be considered as a picture of sin. In the case of the leper, no human power can heal him; so also, in our case, there is only One Who can save us from the dreadful disease of sin. The leper in this passage humbly sought to be delivered from his dreadful disease. He came to Christ and pleaded for healing, and he received it! May the Lord give us grace to imitate this man, and come to Him for cleansing for our sin-sick souls.

Lord Jesus, we praise You as the Suffering Servant, Who came to labor and toil for the benefit and blessing of mankind – sweating, serving, and suffering on our behalf! Amen.

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