Mark 1:1-20 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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The Beginning of the Gospel
Comments for Study 1

Mark 1:1-20
Memory Verse: 1


I. John the Baptist Prepare the Way (1-8)

>1. What does verse one teach us about Jesus?

* Mark 1:1 "The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God."

* Jesus is the Son of God.

* Jesus is the Christ.

* "The beginning of" -the gospel begins with Jesus.

* "the gospel" -Gospel means good news in Greek.

* "about" -The gospel is about Jesus; who he is and what he did, is and will do.

>How did Mark begin his gospel?

* First, in introducing Jesus. (1)

* Second, with prophecy from Malachi. 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3.

* Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus. Luke begins with an explanation of his account, then Zechariah and Elizabeth. John begins at eternity.

* Why did Mark only mention Isaiah if both Malachi and Isaiah is quoted? Maybe because Isaiah's prophecies brings out the servitude of Jesus as Mark's gospel account does.

>Why is it important that the gospel began with prophecy?

* Mark 1:2-3 "It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"--"a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"

* Both John's and Jesus' life are the fulfillment of prophecy. Even it can be said that the New Testament is a fulfillment of the Old Testament. Thus in beginning with prophecy it shows that this is God's work.

* The Old and the New Testament needed to be linked together to show that John's and Jesus' life and teaching were not new nor not related to the Old Testament.

* Both the Old and New Testament is important for us to understand Jesus and God's way of working.

* How can we believe the Son brought the good news of God? History and prophecy fulfilled does not lie. Isaiah was 700 years before Jesus and God gave him prophecy about Jesus that came true.

* Prophecy shows God is organized. John's and Jesus' coming was no quick decision by God.

* Matthew 4:12-17 begins his gospel by recording Jesus starting in Galilee to fulfill Isaiah 9:1-2.

* Luke 4:16-22 records that Jesus read this passage, Isaiah 6:1-2 in his hometown at the beginning of his ministry proclaiming the start of his public ministry.

John the Baptist

* See an actor rendering John the Baptist clothes to the right.

>Who was the prophecy about, and what was his mission to be?

* Mark 1:2-3 "It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way"--"a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"

* "I will send" -This is God the Father. He is the one who sent John. John did not send himself, nor did his parents who were godly people.

* "my messenger" -This is John the Baptist and this prophecy is about him. Part of John's mission was to be God's messenger.

* "ahead of" -John was before Jesus. God the Father is talking to Jesus in this prophecy, not John but John did receive it as though God was speaking to him.

* "you" -This is God the Son, Jesus Christ.

* "who will prepare your way" -John's mission was to prepared the way for Jesus.

* "a voice of one calling" -John was to give God's word. He is here displayed as a voice, not a person. Thus indicating that his mission was greater than himself. John was a humanly lonely missionary. He probably felt alone at times.

* "in the desert" -John's mission field was to be the desert. Why in a dessert? Perhaps it was two fold. First, John would be out of the hateful eyes of the religious leaders in Jerusalem long enough to finish his mission. Second, the people had to make a decision to make the trip to hear him.

* "make straight paths for him" -This is the nature and outcome of John's mission. These are the paths of ones heart. In those days they were crocked; so John straightened them out.

* John relieved this word while in the desert, studying the Bible. Even though his parents might have told him about his mission, John discovered his mission according to God's words.

* These prophecies were John's key verses.

>2. How did John fulfill Isaiah's prophecy? (4)

micveh at qumran

* The picture to the right is a mikveh (Jewish baptismal pit) found at Qumran, near the Dead (Salt) Sea in Israel.

* Mark 1:4 "And so John came, baptising in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."

* "And so John came" -John accepted God's mission for him.

* "baptising" -John baptized in the desert.

* "in the desert region" -John specifically obeyed the word of God given to him. God sends his servants to specific places. (i.e. Abraham, Jonah, etc...)

* "and preaching" -John preached. He did not just give an example by his life.

* "a baptism" -see next question.

* "of repentance" -Repent means to turn. In detail:
1) realize your sinfulness and inability to save yourself
2) recognize your need for forgiveness and change
3) ask for forgiveness
4) stop sinning
5) serve God by doing his will.

* All people need to look at themselves in light of this word.

Herod's micveh

* The picture to the right is Herod's mikveh. Herod was not of Jewish descent, but of Edom. He claimed to be a Jew to appease the Jews and look good in Roman eyes.

>What did his baptism mean?

* "baptism" -of repentance for the forgiveness of sin.

* John's baptism was a preparation for Jesus.

* In those days baptism was somewhat of an ordinary sign of repentance of the heart. (Luke 3:3) Baptism (mikvah or mikveh in Hebrew) in Jewish culture became a ritual sometime after the exile of Babylon. By Jesus time the religious leaders turned it into a elaborate ceremony, full of rules and regulations. Sometimes they baptized themselves every day or at least once a week. They had all kinds of reasons why they must baptize themselves as the Dead Sea Scrolls reveal. Baptism in Jewish and early church culture always required the person to be fully emersed in water. By Jesus' day the Jews had dug many small pits with steps in rock and filled them with water to be used only for mikveh. The rich had these baptismal pits in their homes. John the Baptist and Jesus (though it was actually his disciples) used the dirty water in the Jordan River. (Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; John 1:28; John 4:1-3)

* After John (specifically after Jesus' death and resurrection) baptism became a proclamation to God and the world of a decision in the heart and faith in Jesus.

>How does the baptism of repentance prepare the way for Jesus?

* "for the forgiveness of sin" -notice repentance is needed for forgiveness according to verse 4. This is saying repentance of the heart is needed for forgiveness of sin to take place. This is not saying that one needs to changed outwardly to have the forgiveness of sin; just that one need to changed their heart to accept Jesus.

* The baptism of repentance is humbling one's self to acknowledge he is sinful before God.

* "Repentance" -change the old way and accept the new way.

* A part of repentance is stop blaming others, and accept and confess one's own sins before the holy and forgiving God.

* People with retentive hearts are willing to hear and accept Jesus' words.

>3. How did the people respond to John's message of repentance?

* Mark 1:5 "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."

* "went out to him" -John did not need to go to them. The Jordan River valley was a much used route to get to and from Galilee to Jerusalem. Many Jews lived in Galilee. The land in between the two was Samaria; while being Israelites, they were not Jews. Their was much discord between the two groups. They avoided each other to the point of not even going in each other's land.

* "confessing their sins" -In confessing our sins to a spiritual elder, we are also confessing to God. God already knows of our sins before we confess them. He does not need to hear it. We need to acknowledge them.

* "they were baptized by him in the Jordan River" -it is a dirty river often deep and fast flowing.

* John had success in ministry because he handled the word of God correctly. The word of God needs to be strong in a ministry for it to grow.

* Some of those who heard John speak and were baptized by him became his followers (disciples). Before John the Baptist was put in prison, some of John's disciples started following and listening to Jesus (John 1:35-37. John 1:43-50). Still others of John's listeners and believers, after being baptized by him went back to their former lives just before or just after John was put in prison. Some of these also became Jesus' followers too. Still more of John's disciples started following Jesus just before John the Baptist was beheaded. (Matt. 11:2 & 14:12, Lk. 7:20) All these men and women slowly began to believe and understand. They grew in faith at different speeds. (John 1:40-42; Mark 1:14-19; Matthew 4:12-17)

>What does this tell us about the people and about those times?

* "The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him." -they were looking for the truth, but could not find it elsewhere, even in Jerusalem, where the religious teachers were.

* People never heard the message of repentance before; not the way John and later Jesus taught it.

* They wanted to hear the message of repentance when they realized what blessings it brought.

* They were thirsty for the word of God and had so few places to hear it. They had to travel great distances to hear it.

* The people were far from God. They needed a preparer like John, before they could accept Jesus.

* Most people didn't know and/or accept and/or confess that they were sinners until John preached to them.

* Jesus later would tell his disciples that John was a light.

* Where there are true and good messengers, God will send people to hear.

* To teach repentance we need God's calling.

* Those who give the message of repentance, their life should show it as well.

>4. Describe John's life-style.

* Mark 1:6, "John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey."

* It was a humble life.

* It was simple.

* He had just what he needed.

* He was different than his father who was a priest and therefore paid for mission life. John's salary was only locus and wild honey.

>Why do you think he lived like this?

* He kept to the prophecy which said he would be in a desert. In a desert there is not much. So he made do with what he had.

* In this way he could identify with many who were suffering because of the Roman occupation and Herod's oppression.

* Prophets aren't spelled with an "f". They aren't suppose to get gain from it.

>How did this kind of life contribute to his mission? (Luke 1:17)

* Luke 1:17 "And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous--to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.""

* Elijah lived a life similar to John for quit a while. The letter to the Hebrews documents many hardships that the Israeli prophets had to endure.

* He lived a life suitable for his mission.

* He lived a mission centered life.

* It appears that Elijah didn't marry as John didn't. In this way they didn't have to worry about taking care of a wife nor children.

>5. How did John introduce Jesus?

* Mark 1:7-8 "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 water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.""

* "with"-in

* He preached a two part message: 1) repent, 2) introduce Jesus.

>What does this teach about John?

* He exalted Jesus.

* He loved Jesus.

* He worshipped Jesus as king.

* He directed people not to himself but Jesus.

* He preached of Jesus not himself.

* He was humble.

* He knew his place before God and Jesus.

* We must lead students to Jesus.

* He lived to please God and magnify Jesus.

* He knew who Jesus was.

* He knew his place and sins.

* This is one way he was not like the Jewish teachers of his day.

* Sinners often abuse their greatness but John didn't.

* John emphasized what God could do in their lives.

>About Jesus?

* Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit.

* Jesus greatness.

* Jesus is worthy of respect, awe, service, and worship.

>Why do we need the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

* The Holy Spirit is what forgives us, cleanses us.

* He becomes part of us.

* He gives us strength and joy.

* Without baptism of the Holy Spirit we can not live by faith. He enables us to follow Jesus.

II. Jesus' Baptism (9-11)

Jesus' Early Travels

>6. Why did Jesus receive baptism from John?

* Mark 1:9 "At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan."

* Jesus was a humble Messiah.

* Jesus respected God's work in John.

* He was succeeding John's ministry.

* John was going into prison soon.

* Mathew 3:15 records Jesus' saying he did it God's way, in God's righteousness.

>What are the meanings of Jesus' baptism by John?

* Jesus succeeded and advanced John's gospel work.

* The gospel mission is one of continual succession.

* In this Jesus showed his approval of John's ministry.

* Also, as a minor note, it showed John who he was preparing the way for; so John could point out Jesus. (John 1:31-34)

* It was an inauguration. The beginning of Jesus' Messianic ministry.

* To show Jesus is God's Son to all the world.

* Before Jesus worked for his family, now was the beginning of his mission work, now he would work for God.

* To be an example to us concerning secession and renewal.

* This special baptism shows that Jesus' ministry was of God.

* This also displays what happens to us when we are baptized. We come to God (through a servant of God) accept God, God's Spirit comes on and in us, we are made a child of God, and God is pleased with us.

* Jesus was sinless, so his baptism is not for the forgiveness of sins as ours is.

John Baptises Jesus

* See a wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) to the right. Dore's drawings were in Bibles that are now in public domain. This one was scanned in by

>How did God show his approval?

* Mark 1:10-11 "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."

* God was there in person and with words.

* Hebrews 4:15.

* "the Spirit descending on him" -the Holy Spirit would work in his ministry; 1) to guide him, 2) he moved people's hearts. This didn't mean that the Holy Spirit wasn't with Jesus before. (Luke. 1:35)

* "like a dove" -dove symbolizes peace and anointing of a servant of God.

>What does this mean to us?

* We need God's approval to do his gospel work.

* God will be with us.

* God will be pleased.

* Succeeding ministry.

III. Jesus' Temptation (12-13)

>7. What happened right after Jesus' baptism?

* Mark 1:12 "At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert,"

* "At once"

* "the Spirit sent him out"-this was God's will and action, not Satan's.

* "being tempted by Satan" -not by God. We are not tempted be God. Jesus taught us to pray, "...lead us not unto temptation, but deliver us from evil."

* Jesus must have talked about this to his disciples. This shows his close relationship with his disciples.

>How long was he in the desert?

* Mark 1:13 "and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him."

* "forty days"

* The Israelites were in the desert forty years being tested.

>Why do you think it was necessary for him to be tempted by Satan at the outset of his ministry?

* As the second Adam, Jesus had to overcome Satan's temptation. The first Adam failed. (Romans)

* To show he won the battle.

* So he can help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18)

* To show what he and we are fighting. Ours is a spiritual battle.

* Satan is prince of this world, after the curse in Genesis. So Jesus concurred him first.

* If Jesus couldn't be tempted, then the meaning of the cross would have been diminished.

Jesus' temptation

* See a wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) to the right. Dore's drawings were in Bibles that are now in public domain. This one was scanned in by

>What kind of temptations were they? (Matthew 4:1-11)

* Matthew 4:1-11 "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him."

* Basic three temptation: for food (physical) (Luke 4:3), for authority and splendor and an easy way out (cross without glory) (Luke 4:6), and to test God (power and authority in this world) (Luke 4:9).

* Adam and Eve were tempted with these three. (Genesis 3:1, 5, 6)

>Why might he have needed the angels' help?

* He was physically, mentally, and spiritual drained after such a battle.

* Jesus taught God's help.

>What can we learn here?

* To fight against Satan and the fleshly desires.

* To use the word of God to win the spiritual battle.

* The Spirit leads, guides and helps us.

* God helps us when we are tempted and resist temptation.

* It is possible to gain victory over sin through Jesus.

* We are often tempted in these basic ways.

* Before his ministry Jesus fought Satan and overcome.

* God won't leave us alone.

* Jesus was human like us.

IV. The Gospel Began With Calling Disciples (14-20)

Jesus Preaching from a Boat

See a wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) to the right. Dore's drawings were in Bibles that are now in public domain. This one was scanned in by

>8. Why was John put in prison?

* "After John was put in prison" -for preaching the truth to Herod.

* Herod, as recorded by the Bible and other sources (i.e. Josephus) was a ruthless, cruel leader guilty of killing many people including his own family members.

* John's mission was a suicide mission, but it was very important to Jesus' ministry. Some times we are like John, other times we are like Jesus.

>What does this tell us about the environment in which Jesus began his ministry?

* It was hostile to the gospel.

* We can do God's work in a hostile environment. Our environment is dangerous too, but not the same as John's and Jesus' day. Still the gospel will prevail.

* We shouldn't be oppressed or afraid by opposition as Jesus wasn't.

* Herod was the representative sinner of his days. He was not the only sinner.

>9. Where did Jesus begin his ministry?

* Mark 1:14 "After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God."

>What was his message?

* Mark 1:15 ""The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

* "The time has come"-for Jesus was there.

>Why is it called "the good news of God"?

* It is the news of the kingdom of God and God's way of working for man. (i.e. man's salvation from sin and death.)

>What did he mean by "the kingdom of God is near"?

* It is near in one's life.

* One can be baptized by the Holy Spirit if he accepts Jesus.

* Jesus is not just a representative of the kingdom of God; he is the kingdom of God.

Jesus and Four Fisherman

* The illustration title "Jesus and Four Fisherman" by an unknown author is now in public domain.

>What did he mean by "repent and believe"?

* "Repent"-to turn to God

* "Believe" -"be" means "to" and "lieve" means "live" in Greek. Therefore, it means to have and life by faith.

* This was obviously a summery of his preaching.

* Jesus talked about more than changing one's moral life, as John did. They said we should change in the heart.

* One way Jesus helped people repent was to give the word of God.

>10. Why did Jesus call disciples?

* To raise them up to replace him.

* Mark 13:10

* Jesus knew the limitation of his time; 3 years.

* Mark did not bring up that Jesus meet some of these disciples before John was put in prison, as John's gospel accounts.

* The gospel work starts in the life of people.

>Who did he call?

* Mark 1:16-17 "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.""

* Mark 1:19 "When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets."

* "casting a net into the lake" -they were diligent men.

>What did he invite them to do?

* "Come follow me"

* Jesus had a two aspect ministry 1) general concept (with crowds) 2) 12 disciples.

Sea of Galilee boat

* See a picture of a boat and fishermen to the right. It was from these shores, fringed by Capernaum and Chorazin (Matthew 11:21), the scene of recent excavations, that Jesus launched his ministry. The Sea of Galilee, overlooked on the west by a ridge of bare hills and in the north by the snowy slopes of Hermon, is still well stocked with fish. Fishing boats with sails and oars (Mark 6:48) are there in plenty today, as they were in the time of Jesus. So also are the sudden squalls (Mark 4:37) which can be quite dangerous. (The Bible as History in Pictures, Werner Keller)

>What would he do for them?

* "I will make you fishers of men" -Jesus was clear about his intentions from the beginning.

>How did they respond?

* Mark 1:18 "At once they left their nets and followed him."

* Mark 1:20 "Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him."

* One left their boat, the others left their father.

>What can we learn from them?

* To be ready to leave everything for Jesus.

>From Jesus?

* To call and raise disciples.

* Jesus had vision for common fisherman.

* Open our lives to those we witness to and teach. Have common life with other believers.