The Gospel of Mark: The Holy Servant, the Son of God, Immediately at Work

Mark  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Mark 1
Mark begins his gospel with John the Baptist, who ran before the Lord Jesus as His messenger, to announce His coming. Jesus is presented as the Servant Son of God, and so nothing is said here of His being of the royal line of Israel's kings.
The Ministry of John the Baptist
John the Baptist proclaimed the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Those of the land of Judah and Jerusalem were baptized by him in the river Jordan. Baptism signifies "death," and baptism in the river Jordan typifies the believer's death with Christ.
The food and dress of John the Baptist told out, as well as his life, what his mission was. He, a servant of God, was to introduce to men the true Servant Son of God, which was John's first testimony.
The Baptism of Jesus
John baptized with water, but Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Coming from Galilee, Jesus was baptized by John in the river Jordan.
Both Matthew and Mark tell us that He saw the heavens opened and that, coming out of the water, the Spirit, like a dove, descended upon Him. Luke, in keeping with the subject of his gospel, says simply that "the heaven was opened." The voice from heaven said, 'Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
The Temptation in the Wilderness
Jesus was immediately driven by the Spirit into the wilderness and tempted of Satan for forty days. What a mercy this is for us who believe-Jesus, the perfect Servant, as man, met, vanquished and bound our enemy, thus setting us free.
Jesus was with the wild beasts, but they were not wild to Him. After Adam lost his place over the creation by sinning, the beasts feared him, the head of the creation, and now they are afraid of us and we of them. The Lord Jesus lost nothing; he is perfect man. He commands the fish of the sea, the beasts, the waves of the sea and even the demons. In the millennial day, the curse having been removed, the wild beasts will be tame. The lion and the lamb will lie down together.
To show the attitude of a true servant, we see words like "straightway' and "immediately" repeated often in this gospel. The servant responds in this way to his master. There is an urgency to accomplish what his master wills.
The Holy Spirit descended as a dove upon Him. As a result of this, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. The Spirit is the power of the believer's life. The believer was baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It will never be repeated or added to because "God gives not the Spirit by measure." John 3:3434For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. (John 3:34) JND.
Jesus was victorious over Satan in each and every temptation. If we live in the power of the Spirit (that supposes that we do not live in the flesh), in complete dependence on God, having Judged all evil in us, we may have complete victory over Satan.
The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry
After John the Baptist was put into prison and his mission completed, Jesus began His public ministry and life of service. It is the "meat offering" spoken of in Lev. 2. The fine flour speaks of the consistency of His life, nothing to interfere with His service; the oil speaks of the Holy Spirit in complete control of the Servant, and the frankincense speaks of the fragrance going up to God as a result.
Jesus, in preaching, gave the same message as John the Baptist-"The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." As the prophet, he taught continually.
Until He began His ministry, Jesus lived in Nazareth with His mother and family. Then He dwelt in His own house in Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee (Matt. 13:5757And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honor, save in his own country, and in his own house. (Matthew 13:57)). Jesus called for repentance. There must be a deep, moral change in man or he cannot enter the kingdom of God. To be fit for that kingdom of God, which is of a moral character, one must have new birth (be born again). See John 3:77Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (John 3:7).
The Calling of Peter and Andrew
Walking by the sea of Galilee, Jesus saw two fisher-man brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, casting a net into the sea. Jesus called them to come after Him and promised that He would make them fishers of men. The casting of the net into the sea suggests the work that they had before them of preaching the gospel.
These two brothers worked together and Jesus did not separate them, but they continued to work together for Him, not catching fish, but men. The Lord Jesus did not disturb anything here that He did not need to in fulfilling His purposes. His grace is seen at every turn (the meat offering). Without hesitation, the two brothers forsook their nets and all, to follow Jesus. We should forsake all to follow Jesus, to enter the kingdom of God.
The Calling of James and John
A little further on Jesus saw James and John, the sons of Zebedee, in the ship mending their nets. He called them; they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants.
The Lord does not call one away from a responsibility that He has laid on him unless others carry on the responsibility. The father Zebedee had hired servants to help him.
Mending nets would make us think of John's minis-try to minister to God's people in the last days when all has broken down. The net could speak of the assembly. Peter as a pioneer gathered souls to form the assembly; John mended the net in the last days.
The disciples with Jesus entered into Capernaum, only a short way from Bethsaida where Peter, Andrew, James and John lived. Here Jesus taught in the synagogue on the sabbath day. He taught with authority and they were astonished at His doctrine.
The Healing of a Demon-Possessed Man
In the synagogue was a man possessed with a demon. Seeing Jesus, he cried out, 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." Rebuking the demon, Jesus told him to hold his peace and come out of the man. The demon, having torn the man and cried with a loud voice, came out. The amazed people said, "What new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him."
This was the first healing in the Lord's ministry. The Lord bound the strong man, Satan, and now He was delivering his goods by setting the man possessed by demons free from Satan's authority. It was by the Holy Spirit of God that the man who had been possessed of the demons was set free.
There are two powers in this world. Man is not free, having sinned, but is under the power of Satan, unless he is a believer. Having been cleansed by the precious blood of Christ, the believer is under the power of the Holy Spirit.
The demon knew who Jesus was. Things are not hidden in the spiritual world as they are on the earth. The time will come when all who have been possessed with demons, who have no faith, will be destroyed in hell (Isa. 24:21-2321And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. 22And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. 23Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously. (Isaiah 24:21‑23)). In the new order of the kingdom of God, the power of testimony is by the Spirit. For a demon to testify is only confusion. The Holy Spirit alone can testify of Jesus. Thus the fame of Jesus went out to all of the region round about Galilee.
The Healing of Peter’s Wife’s Mother
Coming out of the synagogue, Jesus and His fishermen entered the house of Simon in Bethsaida. Simon's mother-in-law lay sick of a fever. They told Jesus who raised her up, and she ministered to them.
It was evening; the sun was setting; Jesus had finished His first full day's work healing and casting out demons. Yet He continued to heal diseases and cast out demons, even after a day's work was done. All of the city gathered at the door. What a sight!
Have there not been similar sights many times when the gospel was preached? How sad that some come only for the excitement when they could be healed and given eternal life.
The Praying Servant
Early in the morning, before daybreak, Jesus departed to a solitary place and prayed. Later the disciples followed after Him and said, "All men seek for Thee." He answered, "Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also." Jesus had prayed before the day began; He would not receive either publicity or flattery. His service was in love, always. After prayer they go to the next town and a leper was there ready to be blessed-what precision of timing for the perfect, praying Servant.
A Leper Healed
At the beginning of Jesus' ministry a demon was cast out. Then Peter's wife's mother was healed. Now a leper is about to be cleansed.
The leper came kneeling before Jesus and beseeched Him, saying, "If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." As soon as he had asked, the leprosy departed and he was cleansed.
Leprosy is a loathsome disease. It gives a picture of man in all his uncleanness, from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot. The leper was an outcast.
What the leper needed was cleansing. This Jesus did with compassion by touching him. Jesus could not be deified, but He could heal. He said, "I will; be thou clean." Jesus is characterized by purity and power.
The leper in disobedience did not go to the priest for a testimony; he gave his own testimony in the city. As a result, Jesus could not openly enter the city, but had to confine His ministry to those in the desert places who came to Him.