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The Book of Mark

Jesus The Servant

Paul said, "Be imitators of God." In this book, we are about to watch God in action as a man--God the Son--God himself in action. If we can learn Christ, we can imitate God. As you look upon Christ, learning him, you become sanctified.

There are four beginnings mentioned in the Bible. We know that God created the angels, and that they are created beings. God doesn't say when this was, but makes reference to it in Ezekiel 28:12-17 in the creation and subsequent fall of Lucifer. Three of these beginnings have to do with man:

The beginning of space and time, John 1:1 and Genesis 1:1.

The recreation of earth after the fall and subsequent destruction of earth (often called the Gap Theory). (Isaiah 14:12-17 describes Lucifer's fall back to earth. The dinosaur age contained a bio-system which was not conducive to man. This was all mysteriously destroyed 65 million years ago. Jesus remarks that he saw Satan fall like lightning to the earth. Isaiah 14 describes Lucifer, now Satan trying to ascend to heaven to throw God off his throne and being thrown back to earth. Revelation 12:3-4 describes Satan drawing a third of all the angels into his rebellion. It then describes a second war in heaven, yet to come, in verses 7-9. This second war must be very similar to the first, where we see Lucifer being cast down to earth in Isaiah 14:12-14.) So we see that Genesis 1:2-31 describes the re-creation of earth with a bio-system adapted to man, and then the creation of man.

In Mark 1:1 we see another beginning, "the beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

Mark starts with the ministry of Jesus Christ. The main thrust of the book of Mark is that Jesus is the servant of God. There is more action in the book of Mark, more about Jesus' actions than his words. The theme for the book: Jesus came to serve. He came to push the plow and lay on the altar. Mark 10:45. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." The book of Mark is a fast moving gospel of miracles, power and service. John Mark was a young boy when Jesus was around. It is thought that he may have been writing from the knowledge of Peter. Peter's words in Acts 10:34-43 correspond with the account in Mark. As we read through the account in Mark, look back from time to time and read Peter's account here in Acts 10:34-43, which states, "Then Peter began to speak: 'I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached--how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.'"

It is strongly suspected that John Mark made reference to himself in Mark 14:51-52, which states, "A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, he fled naked, leaving his garment behind." This was when the Romans and temple guard had seized Jesus at night and were taking him to the high priest.

In 1 Peter 5:13, Peter calls Mark his son, obviously in a spiritual sense. 1 Peter 5:13. "She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark." Mark most likely wrote the book in Rome around 50-70 A.D., his main audience being Gentile. If you lost the book of Mark, all the information in the book can be found in Matthew and Luke, so this is probably the first gospel account written. Acts 12:5-12. "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. 'Quick, get up!' he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists. Then the angel said to him, 'Put on your clothes and sandals.' And Peter did so. 'Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,' the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter came to himself and said, 'Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod's clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating.'

When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying."

So we see, John Mark's mother was a believer, and that many had gathered to pray for Peter's release.

John Mark is a cousin of Barnabas, who was another apostle (but not of the twelve). In Acts 12:25 we see John Mark was part of a missionary team made up of Paul and Barnabas. "When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from [or to in some manuscripts] Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark." (Read Acts 13:2-5. John Mark was their helper, as verse 5 states. This is Paul's first missionary journey, and Barnabas and John Mark were part of it. John Mark was invited to go along as an assistant. For some reason John Mark turned around and deserted them (verse 13). This created a split between John Mark and Paul that wasn't healed for some time. For years Paul would not trust him to accompany him, so Mark would accompany Barnabas. But in 2 Timothy 4:11 we see there was a healing between Paul and John Mark. "Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry."

Mark 1:1. "The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God." (NIV) "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" (New King James Version). Most Americans don't agree with the Christian perspective anymore. We now are outnumbered. The situation is changing very quickly. With the changing of a very few laws in our land our freedoms as Christians could be gone, and we could become a persecuted group. Our world no longer thinks the gospel is Good News. Persecution is coming to the church. As real Christians we are a very small minority now, even in America. [Nominal Christians may abound Matthew 7:21-23.]

But this must be our attitude: Romans 1:16, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." The gospel is indeed Good News to those who receive it. Simplistically the gospel of Christ is 'You are a sinner, you need a savior and Jesus is your savior.'

Psalm 33:12. "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance." We are no longer going to be a great nation. But if you want to become like God, stare at Jesus. You want to know what Jesus would do? Read the book of Mark. Ephesians 6:19-20. "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should." We mustn't be ashamed of the gospel of Christ, which leads people to salvation. There is power in the gospel, "For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: 'The righteous will live by faith'" (Romans 1:17).

The gospel in action was good news to this man we're going to read about. This man had all these demons in him, keeping him a prisoner. Mark 5:1-20. "They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes [Gadarenes]. When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil [Greek: unclean] spirit came from the tombs to meet him. This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain. For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him. Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.

When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him. He shouted at the top of his voice, 'What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won't torture me!' For Jesus had said to him, 'Come out of this man, you evil spirit!'

Then Jesus asked him, 'What is your name?'

'My name is Legion,' he replied, 'for we are many.' And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.

A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside. The demons begged Jesus, 'Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them. He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned.

Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man--and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. Jesus did not let him, but said, 'Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.' So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed."

How do you serve God, with joy, or grudgingly? Your heart is important. Mark focuses on Jesus the Servant. Mark 10:45. "For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Malachi 3:14-15. "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape." God through Malachi was trying to deal with this problem. There is no blessing in heartless service. A true servant serves because he or she loves God. It is out of love. Psalm 100:2. "Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing." It is our duty to serve God--serving with gladness.

Jesus gets into this subject when his disciples got into a dispute about which would be the greatest. Mark 10:42-45. "Jesus called them together and said, 'You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Mark starts out with the ministry of John the Baptist. Mark 1:1-8, "The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in Isaiah the prophet: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way' --[Mal. 3:1], 'a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for him'' [Isaiah 40:3]. And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: 'After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with [or in] water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.'" John was submissive, humbly obedient to God, exhibiting the quality of a servant of God. Mark quoted Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 here to describe John's ministry. John is a radical in the eyes of the Jews. He lives isolated, alone, separated from society. He wore clothes that were different from what those in society wore. He was wearing the type clothes Elijah the Tishbite wore. He was called to be separate. He came with a very bold message--calling people to repentance in preparation for the gospel. Repentance meant not just sorrow for your sins, but coming out of them. It was a very radical thing John was doing, calling people to repentance and baptism. He drew them to the Jordan, a wilderness area--a symbol of separating themselves from the world and it's society.

In verse 4 it states, "for the remission of sin." The Greek word used for for = with reference to. i.e. with reference to the remission of sins. This is because the baptism of Jesus, his death, burial and resurrection hadn't taken place yet. This baptism was forward looking, to the sacrifice that would pay for the sins of the world. Some scholars say John baptized as many as 300,000 people. In John 3:30 John the Baptist states, "He must become greater; I must become less." John wasn't offended when signs of the end of his ministry started to appear. That's the true heart of a servant--that Jesus would increase and that John would decrease. We should want Jesus to increase in our lives and that our own selves should decrease. This is a very deep thing that will end up going deeper and deeper into our wills. This always involves some dying of our own wills and desires in our own lives. "He must become greater; I must become less." There is an infinite God who desires to become greater in us. "May I decrease, may you increase (in me)" should be in our prayers daily.

Verse 8, "I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Mark was talking of the baptism of the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. Jesus came and the Holy Spirit baptizes us into the body of Christ. There is a specific baptism or filling of us in the Holy Spirit to ministry that goes far beyond the initial receiving of God's Holy Spirit in our lives at conversion or being born-again. The book They Found the Secret by V. Raymond Edman [available from ] details this baptism of the Holy Spirit for ministry. Jesus refers to this ministry work the Holy Spirit will do in Christians in Acts 1:5-8, "So when they met together, they asked him, 'Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them, 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on [NKJs: upon] you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'" [Some believe the apostles had the Holy Spirit dwelling in them before Acts 2, and that Acts 2 describes a further empowerment of the Holy Spirit for ministry. This could be true. There are indications in Scripture that indicate it could have been so.] A true servant of God is empowered by the Holy Spirit. [Refer to the section about D.L. Moody in the Ephesians link.]

Verses 9-11, "At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'" This baptism of Jesus, although he was sinless, was placing himself amongst sinners as a symbol of his coming to save sinners, covering their sins in his own death, burial and resurrection--which baptism symbolizes. Jesus said in Luke 11:11-13, "So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?"

Seek God for a greater work of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Between verses 13 and 14 of Mark 1 is a time omission of about a year. The events which are missing are depicted in John chapters 2-3. The territory of Galilee was Herod's territory. Jesus started preaching boldly, moving into the danger zone. In verses 16-20 Jesus called his disciples. We see that a true servant of God abandons all to serve God. Luke 9:23-24. "Then he said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."

Verses 14-20, "After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God [New King James Version: preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God ]. 'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God is near.' Repent and believe the good news!' As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him."

Mark 1:21-45

What is our definition of a servant of God?

A servant of God is submissive to God.

A servant of God is empowered by the Holy Spirit,

A servant of God is resistant to evil, sin.

A servant of God is voracious for the Truth, God's Word.

A servant of God is one who abandons all for God.

A servant of God is one who is noticed, especially by the demon world. A servant is also noticed by the needy.

A servant of God is taught by God.

Add all the letters up that start these words, submissive, empowered, resistant, voracious, abandons, noticed and taught, and that spells servant.

Verses 21-28, "They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit [demon] cried out, '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!' 'Be quiet!' said Jesus sternly. 'Come out of him!' The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 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 evil spirits and they obey him.' News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee."

[The Sabbath-keeping Churches of God use this as one of their proof texts for believing the Sabbath command has not been abrogated or transferred to Sunday.  To learn why, log onto: ]

The ruins of a 4th Century synagogue has been found in Capernaum. The foundation stones date to Christ's time! Probably was this synagogue. Synagogues didn't have any set Rabbi. Rabbi's who preached at synagogues were usually just passing through town. Most Rabbi's would only teach what they had heard other higher ranking Rabbi's teach. So they taught without much conviction. Then Jesus came in and taught with the authority of very God. He taught with such great authority and power that it struck like a bolt of lightning. The presence of Jesus caused this demon to cringe in abject fear. This demon literally freaked out! After Jesus cast this demon out, everyone really started to question and notice. But a servant of God, as we see here, is especially noticed by the demonic world. The more Jesus is in your life, the more the demonic world takes notice. If everything is going smoothly, think about it. Are you on the path of light? The more Jesus is in you, the more the enemy will attack you. But God is doing a good work in those who find themselves in this boat.

Verses 29-31, "As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them." We see here that the apostle Peter was married. His mother-in-law was healed by Jesus and then she started to serve in gratitude. The response of Jesus' healing is to serve Him. As Jesus heals us our desire should be to serve. Husbands and wives, give Jesus more room to serve in your family. Verses 32-34, "That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, 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." After sundown, Jesus was still serving, still giving, tirelessly. The needy had come, the demon-possessed--the real down and outers around Capernaum. Jesus had been going all day long. These were people no one wanted to be around. His fame had gone all around town. Now as they showed up he rolled up his sleeves and started healing all these people. You see here the depth of his compassion. Now it's late at night, and he's still serving and ministering to others. No one will ever come to Jesus or the Father and see he's too distracted or tired to deal with you. A true servant of God is compassionate, not trying to avoid others in need. Pray God just open your heart with love and compassion for others. Here's another point, a servant of God is noticed by the needy. When Jesus is there, the needy will notice and come.

Verses 35-39, "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. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him they exclaimed: 'Everyone is looking for you!' Jesus replied, 'Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.' So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons." After this late night, the Greek implies Jesus got up around the last watch, which starts at 3 a.m. in the morning, to pray to the Father. Peter came looking for him saying that many had been stirred up in Capernaum and were looking for him, but Jesus said that he had to go to the other nearby villages so he could preach there also. Verses 40-45, "A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, 'If you are willing, you can make me clean.' Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said. 'Be clean!' Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 'See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.' Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in the lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere." Here is a man with such a great need. And Jesus heals him. Jesus pointedly tells him not to tell anyone about what he had done. But this man couldn't keep his mouth shut about how he was healed. But because this guy didn't do what Jesus said, Jesus was hindered in his intentions of going into any of the area towns to preach the gospel. Jesus reached out and touched this leper in great compassion. But as a result he was forced to go out into the wilderness to preach, areas that would contain the crowds, allowing him the space to preach to them in an orderly manner. God is not a God of confusion, but of order. He wants a degree of control of what's done in his name.

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