My Commentary on Mark 1-4:20

Mark 1:1-20

(1) The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (2) As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; (3) THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.'” (4) John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (5) And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. (6) John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. (7) And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. (8) “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (9) In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. (10) Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; (11) and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” (12) Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. (13) And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. (14) Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, (15) and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (16) As He was going along by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew, the brother of Simon, casting a net in the sea; for they were fishermen. (17) And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (18) Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. (19) Going on a little farther, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who were also in the boat mending the nets. (20) Immediately He called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went away to follow Him. (Mark 1:1-20 NASB)

In the beginning of Mark we see the inauguration of the New Covenant being announced and the demarcation of the end to the Old Covenant.  This derives from the beginning of Christ’s ministry.  John, like other forerunners of kings was to go ahead of our King and prepare the way for Him, just as Malachi and Isaiah are quoted as saying.  John went preaching a one time repentance from dead works and sinful self-righteousness, to faith in the one true God.  Jesus was heralded as the fulfillment of these prophecies.  The prophecy in Isaiah 40:3 is interesting to me.  The one preparing the way will be in the wilderness, or desert, and the way is prepared from there.  John is dressed as a man who lives in the wilderness.  The wilderness of that region is desert.  He is the one preaching the baptism of repentance from sin and a faith in the coming Messiah, Christ Jesus.  I also found it interesting that it was just the people of Jerusalem and not Israel that were coming to him for baptism.  John also points out that Christ is the one to look to, not himself.

This is exemplified by the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon Christ and the Father’s audible proclamation.  We then see God in the person of Christ, according to His sovereign will calling Simon and Andrew to follow Him, which they immediately obeyed.  Jesus told them He would make them fishers of men instead of their former vocation as fishermen.  This implies a new vocation for these men that was ordained by God for His glory.  The conversion of sinners by the preaching of the gospel will now be their vocation and they will be the incarnate God’s disciples, while making disciples.  The same can be said of James and John who were called next.

Mark 1:21-45

(21) They went into Capernaum; and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and began to teach. (22) They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. (23) Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, (24) saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!” (25) And Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” (26) Throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. (27) They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” (28) Immediately the news about Him spread everywhere into all the surrounding district of Galilee. (29) And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. (30) Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. (31) And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. (32) When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. (33) And the whole city had gathered at the door. (34) And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. (35) In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. (36) Simon and his companions searched for Him; (37) they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” (38) He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” (39) And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons. (40) And a leper came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” (41) Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” (42) Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. (43) And He sternly warned him and immediately sent him away, (44) and He 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, as a testimony to them.” (45) But he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the news around, to such an extent that Jesus could no longer publicly enter a city, but stayed out in unpopulated areas; and they were coming to Him from everywhere. (Mark 1:21-45 NASB)

Jesus taught with authority because He is the incarnate word of God.  He is the word made flesh.  He perfectly understood the intent of the author, because He is the author.  When one perfectly understands the intent of the communication they can teach it from the authority of the position of its author.  This was very different than what the people were accustomed to with the scribes and the pharisees.  They taught as men who had been taught by other men.  They cited other teachings of men as their support.  

The confrontation of the demon possessed man is an instance of a demonic spirit knowing who Jesus is, evidenced by it saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are–the Holy One of God!” and Christ having pity on the afflicted person who was possessed.  Christ came to set captives free.  This was a very real bondage the person was in and Jesus freed him from it.  This bondage was a result of the curse of the fall, as is physical infirmity.  It was the direct result of Adam’s sin.  Simon’s Mother-in-Law was sick with fever.  Jesus healed her as well.  We wonder why these healings were mentioned.  We think to ourselves that it is a miracle meant to make us believe in Christ, and it does help us, but it is also a physical type of the gospel that we finally see worked out by Jesus on the cross.  We see in the leper the effects of sin and Christ’s mercy yet again in the healing of the leper.  Christ actually reaches out to the corrupted, or unclean person, who desires to be clean.  This is also a picture of the gospel as was the last encounter.  Jesus frees the man by cleansing him of his sin and the leprosy.  Often we see the healed and cleansed becoming proclaimers of Christ making more people come to Him.  Don’t misunderstand me.  I am not talking about a different gospel of life enhancement or health and wealth.  These types of passages are often used by people to support the false health type gospel, but this is work that Christ was doing is to point us to the ultimate mediation of Christ on our behalf, that then calls us much like He called the Apostles.  He makes us able to respond and makes us respond.  We leave everything behind and die to ourselves to follow Him and preach His gospel to all creation.

Mark 2:1-17

(1) When He had come back to Capernaum several days afterward, it was heard that He was at home. (2) And many were gathered together, so that there was no longer room, not even near the door; and He was speaking the word to them. (3) And they came, bringing to Him a paralytic, carried by four men. (4) Being unable to get to Him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Him; and when they had dug an opening, they let down the pallet on which the paralytic was lying. (5) And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (6) But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, (7) “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?” (8) Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, “Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? (9) “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk’? (10) “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”–He said to the paralytic, (11) “I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.” (12) And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.” (13) And He went out again by the seashore; and all the people were coming to Him, and He was teaching them. (14) As He passed by, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting in the tax booth, and He said to him, “Follow Me!” And he got up and followed Him. (15) And it happened that He was reclining at the table in his house, and many tax collectors and sinners were dining with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many of them, and they were following Him. (16) When the scribes of the Pharisees saw that He was eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they said to His disciples, “Why is He eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners?” (17) And hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:1-17 NASB)

The paralytic man could not come of his own accord and had to be brought by people who believed Jesus could help him.  He could not help himself.  Because they came in faith, Jesus granted him forgiveness of sin.  The pharisees and scribes thought this was blasphemy because they still didn’t recognize Him for who He was.  They still thought He was just a man.  Because of their unbelief Jesus also healed the paralytic and told him to pick up his mat and go home, and he did.  Then the Bible says, (Mark 2:12 NASB)  “And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this.””

Let me repeat, “so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God”  that included the pharisees and scribes who were there.  

Jesus tells Levi to follow Him and he does.  Jesus eats with the tax collectors and the pharisees and scribes have a problem with this.  Jesus explains His purpose to them.  The self-righteous even when confronted with the righteousness of God don’t see their need.  The unrighteous when confronted with the righteousness of God saw their need.  

Mark 2:18-28

(18) John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting; and they came and said to Him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?” (19) And Jesus said to them, “While the bridegroom is with them, the attendants of the bridegroom cannot fast, can they? So long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. (20) “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. (21) “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear results. (22) “No one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost and the skins as well; but one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.” (23) And it happened that He was passing through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples began to make their way along while picking the heads of grain. (24) The Pharisees were saying to Him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” (25) And He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions became hungry; (26) how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the consecrated bread, which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests, and he also gave it to those who were with him?” (27) Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. (28) “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:18-28 NASB)

John’s disciples and the Pharisees were observing a religious fast.  The fact that the disciples of Christ were not, probably aggravated them.  In their obedience to the letter of the law, conducting their work of fasting, they self-righteously were condemning the disciples of Christ, and doing so without understanding.  They come to Jesus with their question or accusation and want an explanation of Him.  In His explanation He reveals more about who He is and His purpose, although it wouldn’t be understood until His crucifixion.  It is also interesting that He says they will fast on that day instead of in those days.  The singular day of His death or more likely his ascension is what is intended.  I believe we see dead ritualism contrasted with living and joyful faith in this passage as  well.  It is also a look forward to Colossians 2 where our rest is in Christ for always. Christ is teaching against the separation of the intent of God and what He plainly states.  The self-righteous make the obedience and practice of things into a means of righteousness when in fact the practices were intended for good, but perverted by our self-righteous sinful natures.  

Mark 3:1-19

(1) He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. (2) They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. (3) He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” (4) And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. (5) After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. (6) The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him. (7) Jesus withdrew to the sea with His disciples; and a great multitude from Galilee followed; and also from Judea, (8) and from Jerusalem, and from Idumea, and beyond the Jordan, and the vicinity of Tyre and Sidon, a great number of people heard of all that He was doing and came to Him. (9) And He told His disciples that a boat should stand ready for Him because of the crowd, so that they would not crowd Him; (10) for He had healed many, with the result that all those who had afflictions pressed around Him in order to touch Him. (11) Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, they would fall down before Him and shout, “You are the Son of God!” (12) And He earnestly warned them not to tell who He was. (13) And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. (14) And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, (15) and to have authority to cast out the demons. (16) And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter), (17) and James, the son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James (to them He gave the name Boanerges, which means, “Sons of Thunder”); (18) and Andrew, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot; (19) and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him. (Mark 3:1-19 NASB)

  1. 1-6 are a continuation of the teachings from day 4
  2. is about a practical step that was being taken because of the notoriety that Jesus was experiencing due to the many miracles He had been working.  We also see the confession of demons as to the identity of Jesus as the Son of God.  It is important to note that this title refers not to the actual sonship as a created offspring, which Jesus was not, but rather to His positional title within the triune godhead.
  3.  13-19 Jesus is calling and appointing the 12 disciples “so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons.”  

Mark 3:20-35

(20) And He came home, and the crowd gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal. (21) When His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, “He has lost His senses.” (22) The scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.” (23) And He called them to Himself and began speaking to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? (24) “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. (25) “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. (26) “If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished! (27) “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house. (28) “Truly I say to you, all sins shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; (29) but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”– (30) because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” (31) Then His mother and His brothers arrived, and standing outside they sent word to Him and called Him. (32) A crowd was sitting around Him, and they said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are outside looking for You.” (33) Answering them, He said, “Who are My mother and My brothers?” (34) Looking about at those who were sitting around Him, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! (35) “For whoever does the will of God, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:20-35 NASB)

  1. 20-27 show Jesus being accused of casting out demons by the power of satan.  Jesus of course teaches the people that it would be an impractical approach to do what they are accusing Him of.  I think that due to the next vv 28-30 we can see that Jesus was doing the miracles like casting out demons by the power of the Holy Spirit and that by attributing the works of the Holy Spirit, the third personage of the Trinity, to satan, that it is a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit and that blasphemy will not be forgiven.  I believe this point is made obvious by vs. 30 “because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.” “  Saying that Jesus was possessed by satan or a demon and that is how he was casting out demons was essentially calling the Holy Spirit a satanic spirit.

in vv. 31-35 we see Christ teaching that those who do the will of God are His family.  We know that elsewhere in God’s word that those who obey God’s word and love God are the truly converted and as born again believers we are adopted sons and daughters of God

Mark 4:1-20

(1) He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. (2) And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, (3) “Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; (4) as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. (5) “Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. (6) “And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. (7) “Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. (8) “Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (9) And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (10) As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. (11) And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, (12) so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.” (13) And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? (14) “The sower sows the word. (15) “These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. (16) “In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; (17) and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. (18) “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, (19) but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (20) “And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” (Mark 4:1-20 NASB)

  1.  1-12 are the parable of the seed sown on the different types of ground.  After Christ gives the parable we then see in vv 9-12 “He says, “And He was saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

    As soon as He was alone, His followers, along with the twelve, began asking Him about the parables. And He was saying to them, “To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables, so that WHILE SEEING, THEY MAY SEE AND NOT PERCEIVE, AND WHILE HEARING, THEY MAY HEAR AND NOT UNDERSTAND, OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT RETURN AND BE FORGIVEN.”

The statement in vs 9 of, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” is one that should get us thinking about the next couple vs.  We know that the disciples were privileged according to God’s will to know the mystery of the kingdom of God.  We also know that the people outside of that group were mixed.  Some were elect and others were not.  The ones who would believe are the ones who had ears to hear.  They were enabled by God.  He granted them the faith to believe and the ability to understand what was being taught.  The intent of Christ was obvious from vs 10 that not all people were elected unto salvation, “otherwise they might return and be forgiven.”  

  1. 13-20 is an explanation of the parable to His disciples so that they would understand.  In vv. 13-14 we are told that the sower is the one who sows the word, or spreads the gospel of Christ.  in vs. 15 we encounter the people who don’t respond or who respond negatively to the gospel.  In vs. 16-17 is the person who likes the idea of the gospel and responds positively, but it is an intellectual assent, without true conversion, that does not bring regeneration of the sinner.  When hard times come because of their profession of faith, the disavow it.   in vv. 18-19 we see the type of people that make up a majority of the Churches today.  They are only christian on Sunday.  There are too many other things to be concerned about in life.  They may or may not be true converts.  My belief is that they are not true converts because the scripture says they do not bear fruit.  A person who is truly saved bears fruit in keeping with the spirit of salvation.  vs. 20 we see the true convert.  They not only have become converted, but also they become the sower, and the increase is worked by the power of the Holy Spirit according to the sovereign will of God the Father in Christ’s atoning work on the cross.  The gospel is preached by them and their converts and their converts and so on.  The fruit is evidence of their conversion.

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