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Mark 1:1-39

“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 thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. 5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; 7 and preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. 8 I indeed have baptized you with water:  but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. 9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. 10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens open, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: 11 and there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. 13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. 14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into 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 ye, and believe the gospel. 16 Now as he walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea:  for they were fishers. 17 And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. 18 And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him. 19 And when he had gone a little farther thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. 20 And straightway he called them:  and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him. 21 And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. 22 And they were astonished at his doctrine:  for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 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. 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, come out of him. 26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this?  what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. 28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee. 29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. 32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. 33 And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. 35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. 36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. 37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. 38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also:  for therefore I came forth. 39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. 40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. 42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. 43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; 44 and saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man:  but go they way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places:  and they came to him from every quarter.”

 

There Are Four Beginnings In The Bible

 

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 (see
https://unityinchrist.com/Does/Genesis%201%201-31.html).

 

Who Is Mark?

 

Then 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 1st Peter 5:13, Peter calls Mark his son, obviously in a spiritual sense. 1st 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.”

 

Jesus, The Gospel In Action!


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, see
https://unityinchrist.com/history/saga.htm]  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 Should We Serve God?

 

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.” 

 

The Beginning Of The Gospel Of Mark

 

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. 

 

The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit For Ministry

 

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 http://www.amazon.com] 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.]

 

The Baptism Of Jesus

 

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

 

“And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. 22 And they were astonished at his doctrine:  for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. 23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, 24 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. 25 And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. 26 And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him. 28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee. 29 And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. 32 And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. 33 And all the city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. 35 And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. 36 And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. 37 And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee. 38 And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also:  for therefore came I forth. 39 And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. 40 And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. 41 And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean. 42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. 43 And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; 44 and saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man:  but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them. 45 But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places:  and they came to him from every quarter.”

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.

 

Jesus Goes To A Local Synagogue On The Sabbath--And Really Stirs Things Up!


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:
http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/Has%20the%20Sabbath%20Been%20Abrogated.htm]  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 opens 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. 

 

Jesus Taught In Their Synagogues On The Sabbath, All Across Galilee

 

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.

Mark 1:40-45 and Mark 2:1-12

This is a transcription of two sermons given by Pastor Al Ebeling, pastor of the Waltham congregation of the Worldwide Church of God, given on 12 & 19 February 2000.



Mark 1:40-45, “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.”
 This is quite a powerful story here in the pages of Mark, one that catches our sensitivity and emotions.  This Scripture is talking about a couple different things.  Leprosy and healing.  This account brings to mind a story that is somewhat parallel to this in the book of 2nd Kings 5:1-15.  This is the story and account of Naaman.  He was the commanding general of the Syrian army, and he had leprosy.  One of his wife’s servants was a Hebrew, and Naaman’s wife through talking with this servant came to the realization that God could intervene for Naaman and heal him of his leprosy.  This account goes well beyond what we’re going to talk about in the book of Mark, but it is similar in many ways.  Naaman, at first, didn’t believe Elijah’s instructions about going into the Jordan 7 times would bring about his healing.  He thought it was a bunch of bunk, so he stormed off.  [Eventually he followed Elijah’ s instructions and was healed by God, right after he did.]  Now there’s a description of the type of leprosy in this magazine I'd like to read to you, the type of leprosy that Naaman had.  Naaman suffered from a disease traditionally designated leprosy.  The range of the Hebrew word, which includes conditions of effecting clothing (which is from Leviticus 13) and buildings (from Leviticus 14).  You know the clothing couldn’t come in contact with anyone else.  If a leper went into a certain building, no one else could go into that building.  So the range of the Hebrew word makes it clear that the word denotes more than Hansen’s disease, which is Hansen’s disease, which is the modern terminology for leprosy, which is caused by the micro-bacterium lepri-baccilus and effects humans exclusively.  So this particular disease is only known to humans.  Naaman may have been suffering from, in addition to Hansen’s disease, lupus, scoriasis, small pox, skin cancer, vertigo or a nutritional deficiency such as polagra, etc.  And so here Naaman is a hurting guy.  No matter how you look at his particular health situation, he was hurting.  Finally, probably in utter fatigue he goes and dips himself seven times in the river and comes out clean.  He doubted initially that he could be healed.  Especially, he doubted that it could be that simple.  He would rather have seen some waving arms, some chants, maybe a few sacrifices here and there, maybe some gold or silver offered to idols, anything but what was required, and that was faith, of simply going into the river 7 times.  It is curious how this leper in Mark 1:40-45 approaches Christ, and he simply says to Jesus, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”  Jesus didn’t wave his arms, he didn’t chant, he didn’t offer sacrifices, he didn’t do any of those things.  What Jesus did was he just tenderly and lovingly reached down and he touched the leper.  Jesus did the unthinkable thing.  He touched something unclean, only to make it clean.  Jesus put himself at risk by touching something so unclean that it was anathema to society.  And his loving care and his grace extended healing.
You know, ironically enough, the verse here, verse 41, that says, “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand,” that particular phrase among scholars today is argued.  There are some who say that rather, that translation should be “Filled with anger” instead of “filled with compassion”--"with anger” Jesus reaches out and touches that individual.  And the reasoning is, they believe this, because the tone Jesus uses when he’s sending the leper off.  When he says, “Now don’t go and tell anyone what I’ve told you--don't tell anyone who you see what I did for you.”  And their thinking is that Jesus is so upset with the way humanity has to live, that his anger came to the surface rather than his compassion.  But nonetheless, his strong warning, because of what he did to the leper, Jesus had to alter his ministry, and wasn’t able to just walk into a community from that point forward.  Without, it says, throngs, multitudes of people waiting for him to enter that city so that they could be healed.  And I’ll tell you what, brethren, today if there was one person, two, three or more people, that could walk anywhere and all they had to do is touch you and you would be healed, you couldn't keep people away.  People would come to that individual by the scores.  Jesus knew that.  And he asked the man not to tell anyone.  But, for whatever reason, the leper didn’t heed that advice, but rather went and told everyone. 

 

Who Did Jesus Come To Earth For?

 

Now I want to change gears.  When Jesus came here to earth, he did so because he had something to tell us.  He came with a purpose.  He came with authority. And as a result of the authority that was given him to come here, he spoke with authority.  He lived with authority.  He was God.  But more than that he was God in the flesh.  And when Jesus walked this earth during his earthly ministry he effected people’s lives.  Their lives were never the same as a result of an encounter with him.  And I want to ask us that same question.  Are our lives any different because we know Jesus Christ than if we didn't know Jesus Christ?  Are our lives different?  Many people listened to what Jesus had to say.  They even sensed his power.  They even sensed his authority in everything that he said.  But even though they did, they did not necessarily believe what he said.  They liked what he said.  They appreciated what he said.  They reaped the benefit in some instances of what he said and did for them.  But did they believe him?  You know, the point is, Jesus’ word produces results.  All he has to do is say something and there are results.  There’s never not a result.  You and I have the responsibility to bear, or as bearers of his Word to make sure that this Word is heard among a society that doesn’t want to listen.  Now, what society do we live in?  Many people today suffer from something called loneliness.  And I know you can relate to it.  I know without a doubt you can relate to it.  I can relate to it.  You don’t have to be a certain type of person to relate to loneliness.  If I were to ask for a show of hands of people in this room, right now, in this room who are or who have experienced loneliness I venture to say that we would all raise our hands.  I venture to say that, that we have either experienced it or are involved with it.  But more than that, some of us live in loneliness.  Some of us live in loneliness.  And we can sight various reasons as to why we do.  The society that we live in today, the mechanized society by many instances lives by computers, where we’re isolated at work from any other human beings because we’re on our computer.  We’re isolated at home for the same reason at times.  We have beepers in our possession to be in touch with people, we have pagers to find where someone is.  There’s a certain degree of loneliness that can be involved in that.  There’s also the lonely feeling of being abandoned by a mother, by a father, by a spouse [that happened to me], and that in turn creates an empty spot in our hearts.  Human situations like divorce, disease, or deformity also separate us from society.  Some of us experience isolation and rejection from others, as though we're not accepted--we don’t fit in--and so we withdraw.  And we also can experience death, the death of a spouse, death of a child, death of a parent.  Either of those can catapult us into loneliness that almost seems inescapable.  This past week I talked to my sister who is just a few years older than me.  And she just found out that she has a blockage to her heart.  She’s going to have to have some surgery.  And in talking with her, she said, “You know, I’ve come to a realization.” I said, “What is that?”  And she said, “Life is too short.” And I said, “Well, I agree with you there.  Is there anything I can do for you?”  And she said, “Just something that you're already doing.”  And I said, “What's that?” And she said, “Keep praying for me.”  Loneliness is a painful existence.  Any one of us can find ourselves in it for awhile.  As we examine the life of this leper, we find that loneliness is a way of life with lepers.  It’s a way of life.  This passage includes a lot of information.  But between the lines of this man with leprosy coming to him and begging on his knees and saying “If you're willing you can heal me,” between the lines there we can realize that this leper lived a lonely life.  He didn’t wake up in the morning and go to work and get that simple pat on the back from someone.  He couldn’t look forward to a handshake by someone who is able to touch.  He couldn’t look forward to the warm embrace of a friend or even family, emotions that you see were missing from his life as a leper.  He was excluded from society, from all corners.  He couldn’t wake up or look forward to a hug from his wife, or his child, or his family.  You see, we touch one another every day, not physically sometimes, but just by being around people we’re touched by people.  You know that studies have shown that newborn babies who even if they’re provided food and drink, but are minus human touch will die.  That’s sad.  When we experience an event that isolates us, there is no doubt that we go through many, many emotions.  Some of them being anger, denial, hatred, bitterness.  They’re all emotions that you and I go through when we experience loneliness.  Can you imagine what it would have been like five or ten years before we were introduced to this leper?  What was it like in his life before he came to Jesus?  Can you imagine the very first days when he began to get those little signs that leprosy was within his own frame, where he began to realize that these sores that were appearing on his skin weren’t going away?  And that there was definitely something wrong with him, something wrong that he didn’t want to face.  Eventually these sores would break open and bleed and cause all kinds of difficulty for him health-wise.  You can imagine living with his fear, the torment that he was going through, and the apprehension as he looked at what the future was going to hold for him.  Imagine what it must have been like for him the first time his own child must have said, “I can't touch you, Dad.  You’re unclean.”  That was the law.  What was to follow was a life of banishment, a life of banishment, of isolation, a life without that familiar touch from someone like a wife, a child, a brother or sister, a friend, a neighbor--a life of others constantly staying away from you.  Mothers, as he walked down the street, would grab their children, to keep them away from him.  People would suddenly turn around and walk the other way.  Each day this man would have to cover his skin to keep the sores isolated.  And then finally the day came when he would have to go to the High Priest.  And he knew what the High Priest was going to say.  The High Priest was going to declare him unclean, and banish him from living within society.  And his life of isolation and loneliness would be heightened.  Now while we don’t have leper colonies today, we still do build walls around us, and often times we are stuck behind them.  If you are not the run-of-the-mill, the normal, the traditional, you often wear a label.  You might be a drunk, or your parents might be divorced, or you are divorced.  You may be handicapped, and often if you’re deaf you’re labeled as dumb, stupid.  You may be crippled, you may have cancer.  Sadly our attitudes sometimes say “We have places that we can put people that are in this condition.  And we don’t have to deal with them.”  “There are others that will deal with them.”  Many of these type of individuals live in voluntary exile, knowing that they are going to be isolated from society and certainly often are.  And they don’t term themselves normal anymore.  Then there are those who are marginalized by society--those considered the outcasts of the world.  It seems as though these are the people that Jesus was drawn to, those outcasts, those people who were kind of pushed to the side by society.  That’s who Jesus came to.  That’s who Jesus said “I am here for you.”  And yet those considered normal are repulsed by these outcasts, repulsed by this type of person.  If we honestly examine the message of Jesus we come to realize that he came specifically to the marginalized people of society.  If you’ll turn with me to Luke chapter 4 I’m going to read verses 17 through 19 where Jesus says:  “The Spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners, and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.”  Jesus said that he came to those people--all the outcasts, all the misfits, all the geeks that came to him.  There is not one person that would want to associate themselves with a group like this.  People with money often don’t want to be around people who are poor.  Those that are criminals we want as far away from us as possible.  Don’t we have institutions for the blind?  Most of society can't be bothered, at least until it happens to you or somebody you know.  And then perhaps your interest may be peaked.  When we begin to think in physical terms we make a serious mistake.  I want to say that again.  When we begin to think in physical terms we make a serious mistake, and we prevent the full understanding of grace and its effects on our minds and hearts.  Most of us grow up with the “be good and you’ll be rewarded” mentality.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard my parents say that one over the years.  You know “If you're good, good things will happen to you.”  “Pick up your room and you won't get in trouble.”  “Do this and that will happen.”  And I find myself sometimes saying the same things.  And I’m misrepresenting something that God so much wants to demonstrate to us as human beings.  “Be good and you go to heaven.”  How often have we heard that?  We relate this concept to the idea that if we receive physical blessings, then God must be happy with us.  And if we don’t receive physical blessings, then God must be upset with us.  How many times have we thought or felt that way?  How many times did this leper look up into the sky and say “Why me?!?”  How many times have you and I shouted the very same words, because we’re looking at our physical predicament, and we just can’t figure it out.  This is not a New Testament teaching.  Christians make a mistake when they equate their physical stature in life with God’s grace.  Jesus pronounced very boldly, as he often did because he had authority, that the age of grace was upon human-kind.  That’s what he said, that’s what he pronounced.  In fact, he said, “The year of the Lord’s favor is here.”  That’s what he said, referring to the age in which would be known as the Messianic Age.  Jesus Christ came and demonstrated by his power, by his healing, physically to show what the eye cannot typically see, that humanity itself needs the spiritual healing touch of Jesus Christ--the touch that heals more than the body, more than the limbs--that reaches inside and it touches our hearts and our souls.  When we look at this particular account of the leper, or the woman who was taken in adultery [John 8], Jesus’ grace was not limited to “good people.”  Jesus reached out to the “bad people” and extended them grace [unmerited pardon] without any hesitation.  In fact, when the young man came to him and said “Jesus, what good things must I do to receive eternal life?,” the response that Jesus gave him was the keeping of the commandments was not sufficient for eternal life.  He pointed out that a complete abandonment of what this life offers, and that an intimate relationship with him--that is Jesus--was what was necessary for eternal life.  He said, “Unless you are willing to leave everything and come and follow me,” the very same thing he said to the fishermen, the very same thing he says to you and me.  Can you give up physical for spiritual?  That's a very hard thing to give up, isn’t it?  That’s a very hard thing to look at, that’s a very hard reality to come to.  And it’s a mistake for Christians to view the physical condition of people, or their financial status as having anything to do with blessings or cursings.  I know so many times someone will say to me “I can't understand why that person is blessed.”  “They don’t go to church, they don’t do this”--and what they're saying is--“I go to church, I pay my tithes or my offerings, I do all these things.  Why is it not happening to me?”  What are they looking at?  What am I looking at?  What can I say to someone like that?  You know, I know the success of life is based upon Jesus Christ.  That person doesn’t.  Will they have to be taught it?  Yeah.  I know that Jesus Christ is my personal savior.  I know that I have been saved as a result of his extending to me unmerited grace.  I know that.  And so many times we forget it.  We do not live under the old covenant, a covenant that was done so long ago that people forgot that Christ came.  That was “the age of blessings and cursings.”  But we now live in the time of grace, the time of grace, where we have received every spiritual blessing.  Let’s turn to Ephesians chapter 1.  Ephesians 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”  Every blessing we have is in Christ.  Being in Christ has nothing to do with our behavior but with the finished work of Christ on the cross, and his gracious extension of eternal life to all of us, to all of us.  This leper represents the ultimate outcast.  The person in society that no one wants.  In your mind’s eye conjure up a person that no one wants, and it’s represented by this account of the leper.  He’s an outcast, who didn’t accept his condition, but believed that there was to be a restoration and redemption.  He believed, as an outcast, someone put down by society, that he could be healed.  That’s the dichotomy of this little story.  Christ is what every jot and tittle of the Old Testament pointed to, every one.  He is the fulfillment, and is more than sufficient to save us, to heal us, and to touch us.  God touches us.  His sufficiency extends beyond salvation to being righteousness for us.  You know it’s funny because we are called God’s workmanship.  Every law of the old covenant, every Holy Day, every prophecy pointed to the Messiah, and the age of grace that only he could bring, and only he could fulfill.

 

The Leper’s Route To Christ

 

In preparation for his encounter with Jesus Christ this leper had to go on a specific route.  He had to go on the route that would prepare him to be an outcast so he could be accepted by Christ.  It’s not an easy route, is it?  It’s a route though that we all walk if we want to be accepted by Christ, because we have to realize that society is without him.  When Christ came over the hill that day the leper jumped out.  Let’s turn back to Mark 1.  The leper jumped out, and begged him on his knees.  He could not walk along as normal people do and talk to Christ.  He could not be counted among those that easily blend in with the crowd.  You know, this leper had to strategically position himself so that he could have an encounter with Christ.  And so he waited.  And when Christ came over the hill the leper jumped out.  You see, if you’re an outcast, you don’t have to worry about much do you? [tape reversal missed some]...[To] my sister-in-law that I would be praying for, I said, “I'll get on my knees and pray for you.”  And she said, “You don't have to pray on your knees!”  I said, “You're right.  I could pray standing up, lying down, sideways, anyway.”  And maybe you pray a lot of different ways too.  There’s probably some pretty extreme ways that we found ourselves praying but whatever it is that you do, whatever it is that you pray each week, I want you to open your heart and ask him to show you how you can reach out and touch someone else, even if it is only one person, that’s a person who needed to be touched.  And as we drive away and as we drive home this afternoon, I want you to look at people you pass along the road and ask yourself, “Do I want to be that person, or am I glad that God is using me?”  Because God is glad he is using you.  There is no one else that God will use in your situation than you.  Let’s pray.  “Eternal God, we thank you so much for opening our eyes and our hearts.  We ask Father that as we look at ourselves this coming week that we are able to see you in more dramatic ways than ever before.  We ask that you help us to see those who are hurting and lonely, those who, Father, need your assurance and need your touch.  It’s not easy to overcome loneliness, but Father we know that you can make it happen.  We have to come to you when we're lonely.  We have to come to you when we're hurting.  We have to come to you when we’re isolated.  We have to come to you and ask you Father to help us.  And you said that you would, and we thank you.  And we ask for your will to be done in our lives.  And so Father we here collectively thank you for all that you do for us.  And we ask for your inspiration and guidance, for your blessings, and Father for your will to be done.  Help us to be able to touch those who are out in this world, Father, needing to be given that hope that we have, that's a part of us because your Son lives in us.  We thank you Father for your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.” 


 

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