February 15th 2018 Mark 1:1-28

A little introduction to begin. The gospel of Mark was written by John Mark. It is likely that it was actually Peter who conveyed all that happened and John Mark that actually penned the book. It was written around 57-60 AD. All four gospels give a slightly different view on Jesus. The Gospel of Mark really depicts Jesus as the Humble servant.

1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus and the first thing that Mark mentions is that Jesus is the Son of God. That is the same place we all need to start, with the acknowledgment that Christ is the son of God and therefore also God.

2 As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,Who will prepare Your way before You.” 3 “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’” 4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Remember that between the old testament and the new there were 400 years of silence. In that I mean that all throughout the old testament there were prophets. There were men that God had told what He was going to do to and told them to proclaim it. There were 400 years were no man heard directly from God. Then John the Baptist came on the scene. His whole purpose in life was to speak truth and point others to Christ. How awesome, but hard, would that job have been. In a much smaller scale we are all called to do the same thing. We are to speak truth into this dark, confused world and proclaim Christ. John was physically in the wilderness. A wilderness is an area of land that is uncultivated and uninhabited. Is that not the hearts of the world around us? We, Like John the Baptist are called to the wilderness around us to proclaim Christ to a lost and dying world.

5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

When the things of God are being taught properly people do come out and see. Sadly not all believe and walk in the truth. There was a group of them that came out and confessed what was wrong in there lives. In our ministries does this happen? There are two key things that I see that need to take place in our ministry that John demonstrates for us here. First we need to be delivering the truth to people. No one is going to go and confess their sins if everything they hear from those claiming to represent Christ is that what they are doing is fine. No one is going to come confessing if we just skate around speaking the truth in certain areas out of fear of offending someone. The truth is that the gospel is offensive. There are areas in life that sinning is more comfortable and it would be easy to choose that. Therefore when the Bible calls something a sin that we like, we have a tendency to want to skate around it and pretend like it does not exist. Or in ministry we can find the trap thinking we need them to come and stay first. We think that it is our job to keep them there fearing that if they do not like something they will just walk away. We do not see that example with Christ. He simply spoke the truth and allowed people to make up their own minds on whether or not they choose to believe. In the name of not offending them, we take away their right to choice. Instead we decide for them that the truth would be to hard for them. So the first thing we need to be doing is speaking the truth, the whole truth, and not just the things that are “easy” to hear. The second thing is that we need to be people that are willingly to hear what they have to say, we need to be approachable. John never shied away from the truth, but people still felt comfortable to come to him with things they had done wrong. Speak the truth, do not be so harsh in doing so that nobody will want counsel from you. Be completely truthful so they know they need counsel and to repent and turn to God. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14. Do what you do because you love the person. Love the person because they were created in the image of God just like you were. Sometimes Biblical love and what the world calls love do not line up, always choose the way of Biblical love.

6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

The people were not coming out because John the Baptist was the greatest looking, best smelling man. His dress and his diet set him apart. His clothes and his lifestyle in its entirety was not about comfort and was not about riches or glamour. His life was entirely about preaching repentance, about preparing the way for Christ to come. Can we as american christians say that about our lives?I am not saying that we need to give up the nice house or the fancy clothes. What I am asking is what is it that marks our lives? Is it making Christ known, or is it about or comfort and style here and now?

7 And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. 8 I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

This was John’s message, that Christ is coming and that even though he physically is coming after John He is actually before him and greater than him. This statement of not being able to touch the sandal is a statement that shows how far above Christ Jesus really is. John mentions two baptisms here, one of water and one of the Spirit. We should all participate in both. The one of water I think we are all pretty familiar with, its the baptism of repentance where we make an outward statement of the inward change that has already taken place. This baptism of the Holy Spirit is one that we may not all be familiar with. This happened on the day of pentecost and is something that we as believers should be asking God for.

9 It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus came and was baptized. If Jesus Himself was willing to come and be baptized how much more should we. If you are a confessing follower of Christ and have not been baptized I encourage you to ask your pastor about it and make the decision to be baptized publically. When Jesus was baptized the Spirit came in the form of a dove and rested upon Him. Then the Father in Heaven spoke words of love and encouragement to His Son. This was before Jesus had started His ministry at all. If you are like me at all I can sometimes think that I need to work and earn God’s favor. Remembering these verses is one of the many scriptures that puts my mind to ease on this issue. Jesus had not yet healed a single sick person, or did a single miracle at all. The Father still spoke from Heaven saying that He was well pleased in His Son. The Lord says that same thing about each one of us who has turned and allowed Him to be our Father. He is well pleased with you. If you need to be reminded of God’s love read the first chapter of Ephesians and note the order. He loves us before we do anything for HIm. Then He prepares the good works for us to walk into! (Ephesians 2:10)

12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13 And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.

Mark kind of lumps a bunch of things together here. First note that it was after a decision of obedience in baptism that Jesus tempted by satan. This was both allowed by God and was actually the Spirit that led Him into the wilderness where he was tempted. I do not pretend to understand all that is at work here, but I know that after a decision for Christ we can expect satan and his devils will try and make a counter play. We can expect warfare to come up as we make each next step in our faith. Mark does not go into the details of the temptation but you can find those details in Matthew 4:1-11. For the sake of time I will just make the point that at the end of it Jesus uses scripture and the truth of God to counter everything that satan has to offer. Jesus walks away from that having been tempted, but not giving into that temptation and sinning. We can have that same power of the Holy Spirit working in us teaching us to walk in godliness and say no to temptations and lust. It was after this time of temptation past that the angels came and ministered to Him.

14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to 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, and believe in the gospel.”

We will see many miracles that Jesus performs in this chapters to come, but at the start of it all Mark wants us to know that Jesus was first and foremost a preacher. Jesus was letting them know that the Kingdom of God was closer than they thought and the time for action was now. He calls them to repentance. The direction they were on in life was not going to bring them to heaven. The needed to repent, not simply feel sorry for their actions, but to actually change their minds, agree with God, and allow that to change the direction of their life. They needed to believe in the Gospel, believe that Jesus is who He says He is and has come to save them.

16 And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 17 Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”  18 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.

Jesus calls each one of us to Him in much the same way. We choose to follow Him and He makes us into something. I can testify that before the Lord changed my life I was nothing, now with Him I have life and purpose. My response, however, was not as it should be, not as these two men responded. They left their nets behind and followed Him immediately. They heard the call and left everything they knew and their source of income behind to follow after Jesus. I pray that my response to the calls Jesus has on my life can become like this. Admittedly they are getting better, but it is not often that I fully obey immediately.

19 When He had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat mending their nets. 20And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him.

These two men left their family business in order to follow Christ. Is there anything in your life that you are holding onto thinking you could not leave that behind in order to follow Christ? If there is, if you can name something, ask yourself if that is more important than were you spend eternity. Pray and ask God for the strength and willpower to leave behind whatever you need to so that you can follow hard after Him.

21 Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught. 22 And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

This is what Jesus came to do, to reveal himself as Messiah. It was first to the Jews then it was opened to the gentiles, to everyone else. Jesus came to His own people first, but they did not recognize Him at first.This is always Jesus’ pattern. We understand that most clearly in Romans 1:16 were Paul lays it out plainly that salvation was first to the Jews then to the gentiles. They were astonished at His teachings. Have you ever had a history teacher who was dry and boring. You could tell that they wanted to know this stuff and relay what they knew to you, but that it was not real to them and therefore their teaching showed it? Have you reversely had a teacher teach in such a fashion that you knew they were there and lived the event, or brought it to life for you, so you felt as though you could have been there? That is exactly what we have going on here. The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus is the Word. Christ was there from the beginning of creation and on through all the ages. It makes sense then that His teaching would be like one they have never heard before. He likely started connecting dots for them that they did not even know existed.

23 Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.

It was not yet time for the announcement that Jesus was the Christ, but this fallen angel, this demon, knew who He was and was putting it on blast so Jesus silenced him. Sometimes people have this unhealthy fear of evil Spirits the truth is that they do exist and there are places like in Ephesians 6: 10-18 that we are told to stand against the schemes of the devils. Nowhere are we instructed to fear them. We are to fear the Lord, that is to have holy reverence for Him. But as for the devils, we serve one who is greater than the devils. They must obey His commands and they know that there end will be the firey pit and that frightens them. Therefore do not fear the devils, but put your faith and hope in HIm, looking to Him for all things.

27 Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” 28 And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.

Do we see God, Jesus Christ, that way? Do we read scripture and see who He is and are we blown away by that knowledge? We should fall deeper in love with our Savior every time we open the Bible and learn of Him. O what a mighty God we serve! I am blessed and honored that He allows me to serve Him, that He has cleaned me up so that I could be ready for service!

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