Jesus Begins His Ministry – Mark 1-2

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pi...

First page of the Gospel of Mark, by Sargis Pitsak, a Medieval Armenian scribe and miniaturist (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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,’

Isaiah is cited as the source because most of the quote does come from the better known prophet (Isaiah 40:3), but part of it also comes from Malachi 3:1.

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.

Christ and The Pharisees

Christ and The Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.



Bible Reading Schedule for this month
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/Bob’s boy

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.






Mark 10 – Jesus Came to Serve

Here, Jesus was teaching the crowds that gathered around Him; and once again the Pharisees came to test Him.  As He once again condemns divorce in verses 2-12, the exception for adultery is not mentioned here as it is in Matthew 5:32 and Matthew 19:9.  This is because there was no disagreement about adultery where divorce was concerned in Jewish, Greek or Roman cultures.  But the message is clear – God has always taken marriage seriously, intending one man for one woman from the beginning (Genesis 2:24).

Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus (Matthew 20:29-32; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43).

The rich man in verse 17 wants to know what he needs to do to inherit eternal life.  In verse 21, Jesus tells him to “sell all that you have and give to the poor.”  This is not a command for everyone to give away all of their possessions, nor does it mean that being wealthy is wrong.  Jesus knew what was in the man’s heart, and his wealth was his god – his idol; and no one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24).  The reason that He says it is difficult for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven is because of the tendency of man to love earthly possessions so much that they come to believe in their own self-sufficiency.  This makes us believe we do not need God.  When the Israelites were wandering the desert, God was providing the manna for them (Exodus 16) daily, teaching them to depend on the Lord.  It is when we forget how much we need Him that we lose our way, and fall away from God.  Most of us are not wealthy, right?  Maybe so, but just remember – a person today making less than $50,000 per year is still very wealthy compared to the majority of earth’s population.  And we still have our “idols” today.

Jesus again foretells His death in verses 32-34 – this time giving His apostles even more detail – “they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”   But apparently they still aren’t “getting it.”  In verses 35-37, James and John ask Jesus to give them each a special place beside him when He comes into His glory.  It is hard to imagine all that is going through their minds, particularly following Jesus’ last prediction of His death.  But clearly they have a mistaken understanding of the Kingdom.  Jesus tells them they don’t know what they are asking.  The baptism he is speaking of in verse 39 is of suffering. Jesus uses the occasion to explain that serving others is the work of His Kingdom (verses 42-45) – a point He will continue to drive home before His death.  Verse 45 is a fitting summary – “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.