Devotional Journey Through The Gospel of Mark: Chapter 1
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the Prophets:
“Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You.”
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’ ”
4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. 8 I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark’s gospel is fast paced. Many believe that even though Mark wrote the gospel that much of the material used by Mark was given to him by the apostle Peter. Peter walked closely with Jesus and was an eyewitness to much of what Jesus did during His earthly ministry. Mark’s gospel is an action gospel. It begins right away with the introduction of John the Baptism who was the prophesied forerunner of Jesus.
The prophet Isaiah spoke of the messenger who would come in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord. It is incredible to think that Isaiah lived over 700 years before Christ was born and all of what Isaiah prophesied concerning the coming Messiah was fulfilled at Jesus' first coming. There are prophecies that Isiaah spoke concerning the second coming of Christ that are yet to be fulfilled.
Often when a king would enter an area a herald or messenger was sent ahead to prepare the people for his visit. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords was stepping into creation. Fully becoming flesh and walking among His creation. He came as a servant and emptied Himself of His heavenly glory. In all that Jesus did He relied upon the Holy Spirit and the only way the people could properly prepare for His coming was to confess their sins and turn fully to God in repentance.
As John began his ministry in the wilderness it seems that John appears out of nowhere. He is dressed like the prophet Elijah. The word He spoke comes directly from the Lord. It pierces the hearts of the people. By the power of the Holy Spirit the people are moved to be water baptized which was an outward symbol of spiritual repentance. The major difference today is when we are baptized it is a picture of a spiritual reality in which we have died with Christ and risen with Him to new life.
John understood his role. He was not called to be a prophet for his own glory. Though many came from all around to hear John proclaim the message He was given in the wilderness, he makes it clear that his purpose is to point all to Jesus Christ. John says there is one who comes after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. This statement by John simply shows his humility. The loosing of the sandal strap was a job a slave would do, but John says he is not worthy to even do that.
John came baptizing with water, but Jesus would come baptizing in the Holy Spirit. When our lives are baptized in the Holy Spirit we are empowered to be a witness for Jesus Christ upon this earth. We find there exist a boldness, power, and courage that could only come from God. We also see in the book of Acts when people were baptized in the Holy Spirit that they spoke in tongues as an outward evidence of a spiritual reality.
All of us should desire to have the same attitude and heart of John the Baptist. That we would all decrease and that He would increase. Today many today simply desire a stage and influence. Too many today desire to use the name of Jesus to build their own kingdom. If we are truly committed to the truth and proclaiming the truth, there will be sacrifice. But all of it will be worth it. For it is the truth that challenges the hearts and minds of people. It is the truth that sets people free. Our Lord and King is returning soon. May we be His mouthpiece in this hour to prepare those who have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to understand.
9 It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
If Jesus was without sin why did He have to be water baptized? The simple answer is it was part of the Father’s will. Through being water baptized Jesus stood in the place for all sinners. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But ultimately the baptism of Jesus pointed to His purpose on the earth.
When Jesus was baptized by John in the river Jordan, it wasn’t until Jesus came up out of the water that the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus like a dove and remained. The descending of the Holy Spirit was a signal and sign to John that Jesus was truly the Son of God.
Not only did the Holy Spirit descend and remain upon Jesus, the voice of the Father said “this is my Son in whom I am well pleased”. The religious leaders at the end of Jesus' life would charge Him with blaspheme. But He was the only one who fulfilled the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. He is the only one who could live a life under the law and never break one aspect of the law.
Jesus said He did not come to break the law, but to fulfill it. By perfectly fulfilling the law, His righteousness is bestowed on anyone who comes to faith in Christ. Our salvation is by faith alone and what truly keeps people from receiving the precious gift that Jesus offers is simply pride.
It wasn’t until the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus that Jesus would begin His earthly ministry. In all that Jesus did He was empowered and equipped by the Holy Spirit. There is nothing Jesus could do apart from the work and person of the Holy Spirit. It shows us how much we must rely upon the Holy Spirit for all things. There is nothing God has called us to do that the Holy Spirit will not empower us or equip us to do. Jesus set the example and model of how we are to live our lives on this earth surrendered to the Holy Spirit and also empowered by Him.
12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13 And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.
Jesus after being water baptized and the Spirit descending upon Him, was immediately driven into the wilderness. It was here that Jesus would be tempted for forty days by the devil. Every time the devil tempted Jesus, Jesus overcame the devil with the truth of God’s word.
Jesus understands everything we will face in this life because He has already faced it. There is nothing that we will face that Jesus doesn’t have compassion for us. All that Jesus has ever done for us is because of His love for us. No matter how difficult a circumstance that we may face, we must always remember that Christ is greater.
It was the Holy Spirit that drove Jesus into the wilderness and it was the Holy Spirit that led and directed Jesus in all that He did upon the earth. There wasn’t anywhere that Jesus didn’t go and there wasn’t anything that Jesus said that was led and guided by the Holy Spirit.
We may wonder how this is possible, but it is possible because with Him all things are possible. When we walk in step with the Holy Spirit, the supernatural becomes natural. There isn’t anything that God is going to call us to do that He has not empowered or equipped us for.
14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
John begins to describe the events of Jesus' public ministry after John has been put in prison. There is a transition point between John being put in prison and Christ beginning His public ministry. John was the last of the Old Testament prophets. John represented everything the Old Covenant was. Jesus came to establish a new covenant based on faith in His shed blood and sacrifice.
Jesus' message was a very simple one that still holds true today. He simply proclaimed repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Jesus has told us to believe the gospel and receive the precious salvation He has for us. As we grow in Christ, He becomes our obsession. He becomes that which we desire. We will know if we are truly born again if we desire to live for Him. For in Christ we are brand new creations. We have been forgiven of our sins and we have been given a new nature, which is the nature of Christ.
It is developed over a lifetime. As we walk with the Lord and surrender daily to the work and person of the Holy Spirit, the very character and nature of Christ is produced within us. We become like Him more and more, but will not be truly perfected until we walk with Him someday in His kingdom.
16 And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
19 When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. 20 And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.
The common thing we see between the calling of Andrew and Peter, and James and John is that when Jesus called them they immediately left all and followed Jesus. They didn’t ask Jesus a bunch of questions, but simply followed Jesus. Their hearts were prepared long ahead of time for the calling of Jesus.
All of us who come to Christ are prepared long ahead of time before we ever make a decision to follow Jesus. But there is something important to see here. Jesus says come follow me and I will make you fishers of men. These men were fishermen by trade. All their lives they had learned the trade of fishing. But now Jesus would teach them not how to fish for fish, but how to fish for people.
But the key is following Jesus. We don’t automatically become a great evangelist or pastor. We must walk with Christ on a daily basis and as we do our lives will be transformed by Him. These men learned what it meant to be fishers of men by watching the life of Jesus. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. No matter how lost a person may be, they are never outside the reach of Almighty God.
Jesus continually knocks on the door of the hearts of people, but we must be willing to open the door and let Him come in and take control of our lives. These men dropped everything they had. They left the only profession they had ever known. Following Jesus is not easy and honestly can be very scary. But we know He is always faithful. He will never lead us in the wrong way. In all that He leads us to do it will be according to His will and His way.
21 They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23 Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24 “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!”
25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26 The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28 News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Jesus was different. He was the Son of God. The people who heard Jesus teach understood that He taught with authority. He did not depend upon the wisdom of man nor the commentary of the rabbis. Jesus is the Word made flesh. The very word of God was standing in front of the people. The word came from Jesus. The reaction of the people would produce jealousy in the religious leaders. Jealousy would lead to hatred. Hatred would lead to calling for His crucifixion. But ultimately Jesus knew why He came. He came to lay down His life. No one took His life from Him. He laid down His life.
The mere presence of Jesus made the demons tremble. Jesus would not allow a witness to come from unclean spirits. If Jesus allowed this to continue it not only brought attention to the unclean spirits giving witness, but also would show that He truly was not in control. But He was in control. Before Jesus even opened His mouth to confront the spirits they were trembling before the Son of God. Demons may present themselves as mighty and powerful, but truthfully they are defeated. As Christians we have authority over demons because of what Jesus has done and that we are covered by the blood of Jesus.
Jesus rebuked the demons with a word. It wasn’t a power struggle, or an argument. The same one who spoke all things into existence is the same one who commanded the demons to come out. At His word they came out. When we truly understand the authority of Jesus and it is His authority that we have been given as Christians, even if all the demons of hell and Satan himself come against us, they cannot stop what God desires to do. This man was healed on the Sabbath. Jesus not only demonstrated through this miracle that He was the Lord of the Sabbath, but that He had all authority over demons. There is nothing on this earth that is greater than Jesus Christ. We are simply called to trust the Lord and follow Him at all times.
29 As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
Jesus was continuously doing miracles. Everywhere He went He was healing and touching people. Peter’s mother in law was sick with a fever. Most likely it was the type of disease that had gripped her body and most likely they thought she would die from the disease. But Jesus took her by the hand, lifted her up and she began to serve them. Not only was she completely healed of the fever, but strength had returned to her body.
Mark’s gospel is a good reminder for us that if Jesus is with us, we have nothing to fear or worry about. Christ goes before us. He prepares the way. No matter what we face the Lord as we seek Him, will bring to pass His purposes and His plans. Many on this day before Jesus showed up probably felt that Peter’s mother may die, but not with Jesus. Jesus simply took her by the hand and lifted her up. This is what Jesus desires to do with all of us. Take us by the hand and lift us up.
32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Jesus' life was built on prayer. Jesus continually spent time in prayer because He was always touching lives and setting people free. No matter where Jesus went and no matter what people were dealing with, if the person was brought to Jesus and He touched them, they would be completely set free. This is the authority that is found in Jesus. The purpose of Mark’s gospel is to show Jesus as the ultimate servant. When our lives are given to Christ they no longer belong to us, they belong to Him. People came with various diseases and those who were demon possessed and through it all Jesus demonstrated His authority.
35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”
38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
Very early Jesus went off to pray while it was still dark. Though Jesus was fully God, He was fully man. Everything on the earth He did being dependent fully upon the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit. It was in the place of prayer that Jesus was refreshed. It was in the place of prayer that Jesus was prepared. It was in the place of prayer that Jesus was empowered for all that He would accomplish. Every major miracle was born out of prayer. Jesus set the model for us. With Him nothing is impossible. When our lives are built upon the place of prayer, God will move greatly in our lives.
Jesus purpose was to proclaim the gospel. The miracles, signs, and wonders were meant to demonstrate that He indeed was the Messiah. But it was His words that pierced the heart and through faith in Christ a person comes to salvation. Jesus lived on mission continuously. He was led by the Holy Spirit and it was the Holy Spirit who prepared the hearts of people to receive Him as Lord and Savior. It is the Holy Spirit who prepares our hearts long before we every receive Jesus as Lord and Savior. We must always present the opportunity for people to come to Christ for we never know when that day could be the day of salvation for someone listening.
40 Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.”
41 Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” 42 As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed. 43 And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing those things which Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”
45 However, he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter the city, but was outside in deserted places; and they came to Him from every direction.
Jesus was moved with compassion at the request of this leper. Under Jewish law if a person touched a leper they would be declared unclean. But the Living God stood before this man and when Jesus stretched out His hand and spoke, the man was healed in that moment.
Jesus through His earthly ministry demonstrated His authority over all things. Jesus didn’t desire to simply be known as a miracle worker. The miracles were simply signs that pointed to Him as the Messiah. But what He came to do was to proclaim the truth of the kingdom and to ultimately law down His life.
It wasn’t the miracles that Jesus was crucified for, it was the truth that He spoke. We see here that Jesus commands the man to do all things in accordance with the law. Jesus did not come to break and destroy the law, He came to fulfill it. Jesus commanded the man to be quiet because Jesus knew once the word got out that He would not be able to travel freely ministering as He went, but we see that He had to go into deserted places. But even in the midst of deserted places, the crowds came to Him. People simply wanted a touch from the Master’s hand but sadly in the end many would cry crucify. This was the Father’s will from the beginning and Jesus simply came to walk in obedience, give of His life, and fulfill the will of His Father. May we never take for granted to treat lightly what Christ has done.