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Mark Chapter 01:1-20

Memory verses for this week:  Luke 9:5  And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.

Introduction: We begin a new study on the Gospel this week as we study the Gospel as written by Mark. (Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit).  Mark’s account of the Gospel is primarily the one showing the gospel in action.  Over 40 times we find the words ‘immediately’, ‘straightway’, or ‘forthwith’.   All these words are translations of the same Greek word, ‘eutheos, showing something happening.  Mark is mentioned in 12 Chapter of Acts in verse 12 when Peter was released from prison and says that he went to the home of “Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark.”  John was his Jewish name, whereas Mark was his Roman name.   Perhaps no chapter is more full of information (with possible exception of Genesis Chapter 1), than the first book of Mark.  It covers the ministry of John the Baptist after going back to the prophecies of Isaiah and Malachi. It takes in the first year’s ministry of Jesus.  It shows him busy on a Sabbath Day and ends with the mighty work of cleansing the leper. In spite of the pressure of a busy life, Jesus took time to pray.   This chapter of crowded content is made striking by the absence of genealogy which is so prominent in Matthew and Luke. We have already stated why. A king must have a genealogy. A servant needs references, not a “birth certificate.” It is not a question as to His ancestors, rather as to His actions—can He do the job? Jesus as a servant is marked out here by His accomplishments.  


I.   The Title

Mark 1:1  The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;

The word “gospel” mean is “good news.”  Never has there been better news than when Jesus came to this earth, lived a perfect life, died according to the scriptures, and then arose for our justification.    The title of this chapter could be “The Beginning of the Glad Tidings about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”   What peace we that know Jesus as Lord and Savior have as we face each day of our life.   The good news of salvation begins with the historical fact of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.  It is the glad tidings that tell us what Jesus had done for us on the cross, something that we could never do for ourselves.  If we want to enter heaven, we must come to God through Jesus Christ.   His blood and his blood alone washes us from our sins.


II.  The Ministry of John the Baptist

Mark 1:2  As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Mark 1:3  The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

All accounts of the gospel present the events connected with Jesus’ life and ministry as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.   Mark quotes both Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 explaining how John had come to do the work as the forerunner of the Messiah.  John came to prepare the way for Jesus.

Mal 3:1  Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.

Isa 40:3  The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Mark 1:4  John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Mark 1:5  And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

John preached that men should be baptized upon repentance of their sins.  If you note verse 8 of Matthew Chapter 3,  John demanded that the people bring evidence of repentance before he baptized them.

Mat 3:8  Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

Mat 3:9  And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Mat 3:10  And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Mat 3:11  I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

Many religious groups confuse the purpose of Baptism and make it part of the salvation experience.   We have many examples of people who were saved and then requested that they be baptized.   On the cross, the thief cried out for mercy to Jesus, and He told him that “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise.”  The man was saved by faith and was never baptized.   We should make baptism our first act of righteousness after we are saved.  It is what places us into the church and makes us an official member of the church. 

We see that those who were baptized were baptized in the river Jordan.  Baptism was a confession that they had received remission of sins.   They were confessing that they had died to the old nature and like Christ was raised from the dead to walk in newness of life.   Baptism is truly a picture (or image) of that which saves, but not the real things that saves.  It pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

1 Pet 3:18  For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

1 Pet 3:19  By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

1 Pet 3:20  Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

1 Pet 3:21  The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

1 Pet 3:22  Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities

Just as it was not the water that saved Noah and his family, but the ark, Jesus (our ark) is the one who saves us.  All who flee to him for safety will be saved and none will perish.

Mark 1:6  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;

Mark 1:7  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.

Mark 1:8  I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

John did not come in fancy clothes, but came in humble clothing of camel’s hair and girdle of skin about his loin.  His diet consisted of locusts and wild honey.   He came humbly, but he came with a powerful message.  He preached about one mightier than he that would come.   He states his own personal unworthiness in comparison to that of Jesus.   Yet Jesus said that there was none greater than John the Baptist born of women.

Mat 11:7  And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?

Mat 11:8  But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses.

Mat 11:9  But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.

Mat 11:10  For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Mat 11:11  Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.


When we realize how truly important John the Baptist was in God’s eyes, it should cause us to bow our heads in shame if we try to be exalted of our own worthiness.  Without Jesus, we truly are nothing.  We are but branches, and he is the true vine.  Without him, we can’t accomplish anything.   John thought so highly of Christ that he declares that he is not even worthy to untie the shoes of Jesus.   In verse 8, he foretells how Jesus would baptize with the Holy Ghost.  This was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:1  And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

Acts 2:2  And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

Acts 2:3  And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

Acts 2:4  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:5  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

Acts 2:6  Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

Acts 2:7  And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

Acts 2:8  And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Acts 2:9  Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

Acts 2:10  Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

Acts 2:11  Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

Acts 2:12  And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?


III.  The Baptism of Christ

Mark 1:9  And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

Mark 1:10  And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

Mark 1:11  And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Jesus appears on the banks of the Jordan River to be baptized by John.   We know that baptism could not have anything to do with salvation or Jesus would  never have partook of it since he had never sinned.  He had nothing to repent from.  He did it to set an example for you and I and to fulfill all righteousness.

John’s baptism was the voice of God to Israel, and the believing remnant responded.  It was an act of righteousness on the part of Jesus who had become an Israelite in the flesh.  He was taking his place with the believing remnant.  It is at the baptism of Jesus that we have the first clear revelation of the divine 3-head Trinity.  The Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove on Christ, and the voice of the Father proclaims “Thou art My Beloved Son.”   Here the three separate persons that makeup the Trinity are clearly distinguished.

Mat 3:13  Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him.

Mat 3:14  But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?

Mat 3:15  And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.


Titus 3:5  Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:6  Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

Titus 3:7  That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.


J. Vernon McGee said this about Christ coming to John.

Notice Mark’s headline—“JESUS CAME.” What a thrill! Jesus is coming again someday. That’s another wonderful headline. But here, the Lord Jesus came from the obscurity of thirty years of quiet training in little Nazareth. He comes now and identifies Himself with the human family in His baptism. You remember that Jesus had said to John, “… Suffer it to be so now …” (Matt. 3:15), because John didn’t think he should baptize Jesus.

Notice also that His name Jesus is used here. Jesus came. We will find that it is His common name that is used in this Gospel. The name Jesus is used more frequently in Mark than any other name. [i]


IV.  The Temptation of Christ

Mark 1:12  And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

Mark 1:13  And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

The first three accounts of the gospel  place the temptation of Jesus right after His baptism.   No matter what type of spiritual mountaintop we may achieve, be sure that Satan is waiting right around the corner to try and trip us up.   Without Christ, we are no match for Satan.  But he truly can not touch our souls once we know Christ as Lord and Savior.  But he can destroy our testimony and leave us defeated and ineffective in this life if we are not on our guard.

It says in verse 12 that the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.  Much is said about the wilderness in the word of God.  Israel wandered 40 years in the wilderness.  John was here in wilderness proclaiming the Gospel.   Now Jesus is driven into the wilderness.  It says he was here 40 days and 40 nights.   Christ was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin.  We can’t come to Jesus and say “You don’t understand what I am going through.”  He not only does, but went through more than you and I will ever begin to suffer.

Heb 2:17  Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Heb 2:18  For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Heb 4:14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Heb 4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Heb 4:16  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.


J. Vernon McGee points out that this was in God’s plan to see Christ tempted.

Driveth is a word of fierceness and seriousness. The Spirit of God moved Him right out into the wilderness that He might be tempted. This is something that is very important for us to see. We come again to that question: Can He do the job? Other men had failed; they couldn’t stand up under temptation. Adam failed. Noah got through the Flood, and then he fell miserably on his face. We saw that Abraham failed. Moses failed—he led the children of Israel out of Egypt, but he wasn’t permitted to enter the Promised Land. And poor David failed. So we see that the temptation initiates Him into His work. 



V.  The First Galilean Ministry

Mark 1:14  Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

Mark 1:15  And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

We see that the arrest and imprisonment of John the Baptist marked the commencement of Jesus’ great Galilean ministry.   Jesus’ ministry did not start until John was cast into prison.   When he was imprisoned, this was the start of Jesus’ Galilean ministry.

Jesus preached what John had preached.  He preached that the kingdom of God was near, and that the gospel was the way of salvation to all who would come.   The kingdom for which Israel had so long looked and desired was at hand and their new King was in their presence.   Jesus tells them to repent, and ‘believe the gospel.’   Why God chose preaching of the gospel as his method to save, I do not know.  He could have had the stars declare it in writing in the heavens.  He could have it listed on every television channel of the world.  But rather, he chose the foolishness of preaching to save those who will believe.

1 Cor 1:20  Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

1 Cor 1:21  For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

1 Cor 1:22  For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

1 Cor 1:23  But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

1 Cor 1:24  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1 Cor 1:25  Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.


VI.  The Call of Peter and Andrew

Mark 1:16  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.

Mark 1:17  And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.

Mark 1:18  And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.

Mark 1:19  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.

Mark 1:20  And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.


Jesus did not choose the noble of the world to be His disciples.  Rather he chose the normal working man.   And just like he chose those of little acclaim, he also came to the simple man to preach the gospel.   Why didn’t he choose to come to the spiritual leaders of the day?   I think it was because they had so polluted the word of God that they were not a help to the people.   These men didn’t argue with Jesus.  It says they forsook their nets and followed him. 

1 Cor 1:26  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

1 Cor 1:27  But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

1 Cor 1:28  And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

1 Cor 1:29  That no flesh should glory in his presence.

1 Cor 1:30  But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

1 Cor 1:31  That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.


Matthew Henry said this about the call of Simon and Andrew.

Christ appearing as a teacher, here is next his calling of disciples, v. 16–20. Observe, 1. Christ will have followers. If he set up a school, he will have scholars; if he set up his standard, he will have soldiers; if he preach, he will have hearers. He has taken an effectual course to secure this; for all that the Father has given him, shall, without fail, come to him. 2. The instruments Christ chose to employ in setting up his kingdom, were the weak and foolish things of the world; not called from the great sanhedrim, or the schools of the rabbin, but picked up from among the tarpaulins by the sea-side, that the excellency of the power might appear to be wholly of God, and not at all of them. 3. Though Christ needs not the help of man, yet he is pleased to make use of it in setting up his kingdom, that he might deal with us not in a formidable but in a familiar way, and that in his kingdom the nobles and governors may be of ourselves, Jer. 31:21. 4. Christ puts honour upon those who, though mean in the world, are diligent in their business, and loving to one another; so those were, whom Christ called. He found them employed, and employed together. Industry and unity are good and pleasant, and there the Lord Jesus commands the blessing, even this blessing, Follow me. 5. The business of ministers is to fish for souls, and win them to Christ. The children of men, in their natural condition, are lost, wander endlessly in the great ocean of this world, and are carried down the stream of its course and way; they are unprofitable. Like leviathan in the waters, they play therein; and often, like the fishes of the sea, they devour one another. Ministers, in preaching the gospel, cast the net into the waters, Mt. 13:47. Some are enclosed and brought to shore, but far the greater number escape. Fishermen take great pains, and expose themselves to great perils, so do ministers; and they have need of wisdom. If many a draught brings home nothing, yet they must go on. 6. Those whom Christ called, must leave all, to follow him; and by his grace he inclines them to do so. Not that we must needs go out of the world immediately, but we must sit loose to the world, and forsake every thing that is inconsistent with our duty to Christ, and that cannot be kept without prejudice to our souls. Mark takes notice of James and John, that they left not only their father (which we had in Matthew), but the hired servants, whom perhaps they loved as their own brethren, being their fellow-labourers and pleasant comrades; not only relations, but companions, must be left for Christ, and old acquaintance. Perhaps it is an intimation of their care for their father; they did not leave him without assistance, they left the hired servants with him. Grotius thinks it is mentioned as an evidence that their calling was gainful to them, for it was worth while to keep servants in pay, to help them in it, and their hands would be much missed, and yet they left it.  [iii] 


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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[i]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[ii]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.

[iii]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.