The Gospel of Mark is the shortest of the synoptic gospels, and was likely written to a Roman audience. Therefore, it does not focus on Jesus’ birth; and there is no need for the genealogy that is found in Matthew and in Luke. Lineage was important in Matthew because it was written to the Jews. And it would be important in Luke because a significant number of the gentiles would have been “God-fearers,” and would thus be familiar with the prophecy of the House of David.
The gospel opens with John the baptist in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism for repentance and forgiveness of sins. This is a new concept for Jews, and for the Bible itself. But it is one that Jesus fully embraces, as John is preparing the way for The Son of God to become the “Lamb of God,” which will enhance the meaning and significance of baptism. John, as the messenger, did not come up with the idea all on his own, we realize. Verses 2-3 state:
Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’
By verse 12 of the first chapter, John has already baptized our Lord, and He is led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Mark uses the Greek word “euthys,” a total of 41 times in his gospel. It means “immediately,” or “at once.” But it should be remembered that certain words have different connotations in different ages. The Book of Mark is a short and fast-paced gospel, and the word helps to set the tempo of the book.
This gospel is intended to show the power, authority, and decisiveness of the Lord and His actions. The word for Immediately here usually denotes the introduction of new and significant event — sometimes within the context of another. It is enough to know that when it is used, no other significant events occurred between the two on “each side” of the word for “immediately.”
Jesus begins His ministry then, preaching that the kingdom is at hand, and that people should believe the gospel, or “good news.” The quick pace has him picking up his apostles quickly in chapters one and two; and it is often, I believe, wrongly assumed that he just happened upon Peter, Andrew, James and John (and later, Levi, or Matthew), and that they followed Him at a word without having ever laid eyes on Him. It is more likely that they had spoken with each other on several occasions by then, and that they knew each other quite well.
Jesus preaches from town to town, healing the sick and lame, and even cleanses a leper. By the end of the first chapter, his fame had spread far and wide. In chapter two, Mark begins to establish Jesus’ power and authority in earnest. The crowd around Him at Capernaum was very large at the chapter’s beginning. Some men were carrying a paralyzed man to be healed, so they lowered him through the roof. Jesus then told the man that his sins were forgiven. This was the most important thing He could do for the man.
But when that statement brought murmurings of blasphemy from the scribes who were present, he then told the man to stand up, carry his bed, and go home. When the paralyzed man did exactly that, Jesus established that He had the power to both forgive sins and perform a miracle.
Jesus then comes upon Levi and adds him to the number that would be His apostles. The rest of chapter two is then filled with encounters with the Pharisees. First, they complain that Jesus eats with sinners. He counters that with the fact that He came to call sinners. When asked why his disciples did not fast as John’s did, he gives the examples of the new cloth on an old garment, and new wine in old wineskins (as well as the “bridegroom” analogy). The point of these two examples is that He has brought the new gospel, or “good news,” and that the kingdom of God is not just a patch or an extension for the Mosaic law. It is doubtful that the Pharisees he addressed understood what he meant, much less believed it.
In verses 23-28, the disciples’ act of plucking the heads of grain to eat was not work or unlawful by the Law of Moses. It was counter to the rules that the Pharisees had established themselves. When accused, he gave them the example of David and his men eating the bread of the presence in 1 Samuel 21:1-6. Although this act by David was clearly unlawful, Jesus knew that the Pharisees would not say so. Jesus then refers to Himself as “lord even of the Sabbath.” Here is one of several instances that prove wrong those who claim Jesus never claimed to be anything but a mere man.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.