Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
Five Characteristics of Religious People
Mark now moves from five stories about Jesus beginning his preaching ministry (calling disciples, astonishing teaching, casting out a demon, healing many, healing a leper) to now five more stories that deal with Jesus and how the religious leaders react to Him. So, Mark’s gospel is not chronological but put together in concepts. So, let’s define who Jesus is going to be arguing with.
Scribes – In pre-exile days of the nation of Israel, scribes were responsible for the care and storage of documents, and eventual copying of documents, including legal findings, laws, and deeds of purchase, etc. Over time they became known as “doctors of the law.” Because they were so familiar with the actual biblical documents and the commentaries of other teachers about the books of the Bible. By the time of Jesus, “The main business of the scribes was teaching and interpreting the law.” They were essentially religious lawyers.
Spiritual Blindness (vv. 2:1-12)
And when he returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
(v. 1) “it was reported that he was at home” – word gets out that Jesus was back home, so people began to flood to see and hear Him. Many gathered so that there was a great crowd, “And he was preaching the word to them.” Jesus left the previous town because (even though there were great crowds) they would not receive his preaching – but here the focus of the evening was preaching and not healing.
The men bring their paralyzed friend but can’t get through the crowd. They go up to the roof, tear away the tiles (unroof the roof) and lower the man down in front of Jesus. “when Jesus saw their faith” – the four men showed faith in Jesus’ ability to heal their friend by going to great effort to get their friend close to Jesus. They believed that Jesus had the capability to heal their friend.
The scribes are mentioned in Mark 1:21 “And they were astonished at his [Jesus’] teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” So, word had spread of Jesus returning to Capernaum, so the scribes go and see what his teaching was like (for themselves).
Jesus is expected to heal the man, but Jesus once again focuses on teaching and preaching. He is making a point, “that all suffering is rooted in man’s separation from God. For this reason, Jesus must call attention here to man’s deepest need; otherwise the testimony of this healing would be nothing more than the story of a remarkable miracle.”
(v. 7) ““Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Blasphemy is irreverent, profane, impious speech about God; and its penalty in the Old Testament was death (Lev. 24:16).
The scribes are right – Jesus was claiming to be able to forgive sin, and only God can forgive sin (Isa. 43:25); Therefore, Jesus has to be God in order to forgive sin. “Their fatal error was in not recognizing who Jesus really was – the Son of God who has the authority to forgive sons.” They “were not looking with open minds and hearts at a work of amazing mercy and power. They could see nothing but a departure from their tradition.”
(v. 10) “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” Jesus preached and taught the Word of God, Then He presented a situation where there can be no question as to His claim to be God, and then proves His claim by healing the man.
“Here appears for the first of fourteen times in Mark the term, “Son of Man.” It was Jesus’s favorite way to refer to himself. It was ambiguous in that it could refer to a supernatural being; It could mean humanity or divinity. “By using the term, Jesus forced people to make up their minds as to what kind of person he was.” The term “Son of Man” was also a reference to His destiny. The one who is truly human must suffer and die. But this same person is more than a man, and he must also be raised from the dead and return to glory.
(v. 12) ““We never saw anything like this!” – Here is a clear distinction between the Jewish religion and Christianity.
Earn Your Spot (vv. 2:13-17)
13 He went out again beside the sea, and all the crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. 14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. 15 And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
(v. 13) “as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” With the fishermen who were called to be disciples, there was a connection to John the Baptist, and a seeking for the Savior. Here, with Matthew, there seems to be no relationship other than Matthew hearing the Word preached “by the sea.” If you were religious, and were following Jesus’ ministry the absolute last person expected to be called a disciple by a teacher would be a hated tax collector. This was not acceptable conduct by a Jewish teacher.
“Follow me.” And he rose and followed him.” – the call of Christ upon your life is one of action. Matthew got up, and began walking with Jesus. A disciple of Jesus is moving – not sitting around waiting for the world to come to him; he is moving with Jesus.
The question of the scribes of the Pharisees causes us to ask the question, “How long does it take for a person to no longer be considered a “sinner?”
Jesus is being criticized for associating with undesirable people, sinners. Mark is wanting to show how Jesus’ presence in their lives changed them. He is reenforcing the idea that Jesus can forgive sin, “for there were many who followed him,” Many who? There were people who the religious scribes saw as sinners, but as they circle around Jesus, he has forgiven their sin.
Jesus’ message begins in Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” There were people who repented and believed the gospel, yet would still be called “sinners” by the scribes. Jesus is not saying remain in your sin – no He is preaching repent (turn from) of your sin.
He is not saying that robbing people, or prostituting your body, or in any way sinning is ok to continue doing – but if you desire to be forgiven of that sin, to turn from it, Jesus, as the Son of God, would forgive you – and these people were circling around Jesus. It was the scribes who continued to call them “sinners.”
This is the difference between the Jewish and Christian concept to the forgiveness of sin, “No jew would have denied that God forgave people of their sin. It was the assertion ‘that God loves and saves them as sinners without waiting for them to become righteous an deserving of salvation . . . repentance to them would have meant evidence of change and the adherence to the Law’s regulations.’” Why would Jesus sit at a table and eat with people who had not shown themselves to be righteous?
(v. 17) “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” – I think this is Jesus using sarcasm. “You are righteous (in your mind), you don’t want to have anything to do sinners, I’ll focus on them, and you guys do you.”
“Jesus’ call is to salvation, and in order to share it, there must be a recognition of need. A self-righteous man is incapable of recognizing that need, but a sinner can.” No Jew would deny that the Messiah would save them from sin, but they would need to assert that God loves them and saves them as sinners.
The law was given by God and for mankind (before Jesus) was to be followed. But over time, religious leaders and teachers added to the law rules that they felt would keep people breaking the law – a wall in front of the law. So, between the law and the wall was a grey area. Jesus made the religious leaders angry because He kept jumping over the wall, and running around in that grey area.
Doing Things That Don’t Make Sense (vv. 2:18-22)
18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. And people came and said to him, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 19 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast. 20 The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast in that day. 21 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. 22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”
In the Old Testament law the only required fast is on the Day of Atonement. However, over time, more and more annual feasts were added by the religious leaders, so that by the time of Jesus, truly religious and pious people were fasting twice a week.
How do the people know that John’s disciples and the Pharisees are fasting? How do they know that Jesus’ disciples are not fasting? So the people have been observing religious people, and Jesus and His disciples are claiming to be religious (teaching and preaching in synagogues and along the sea, etc.) Because that’s what religious/pious people do.
In response to the people’s question, Jesus gives a series of three illustrations (a wedding, a piece of cloth, and wineskin). Explain. Why would you fast at a feast? Why sew unshrunk cloth to a shrunk cloth? Why put new wine in an old wineskin? Jesus says, “these things don’t make sense.”
Also, in each example that Jesus gives, there is something old being connected to something new. Singles now wedded (married people can’t act single), old cloth connected to new cloth, old leather coming into contact with new wine.
There is a constant tension between the old and the new. Damage is done by trying to keep the two at the same time. Jesus’ new cannot be contained by the old traditions of the religious leaders. We must not try to limit what God is doing now, because it doesn’t fit into what we have experienced in the past. Remember these old practices are keeping people from the forgiveness of sin – they are keeping people away from God.
Tradition First, People Second (vv. 2:23-28)
23 One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. 24 And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” 25 And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: 26 how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?” 27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”
“Much more significant to Judaism than fasting was the observance of the sabbath. The sacredness of the day was traced back to God’s creative work (Gen. 2:1-3), and the charge to keep the sabbath day holy is one of the ten commandments (Ex. 20:8-11).”
“The main point at issue was not the act of harvesting the heads of grain (v. 23). Such activity as Jesus and his disciples were involved in was explicitly allowed in the law: “If you enter your neighbor’s grain field, you may pick kernels with your hands, but you must not put a sickle to his standing grain” (Duet. 23:25). What the Pharisees objected to (v. 24) was doing this (regarded as reaping) on the Sabbath.”
Jesus responds to their accusation by asking them a question from 1 Samuel 21:1-6, where David and the men with him were hungry and they ate consecrated bread, “twelve loaves baked of fine flour, arranged in two rows or piles on the table in the Holy Place. Fresh bread was brought into the sanctuary each Sabbath to replace the old ones that were then eaten by the priests.
Jesus is not saying that the Sabbath law has not been technically broken but that such violations under certain conditions are warranted. Human need is higher than religious ritualism.
Hardness of Heart (3:1-6)
3 Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. 2 And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. 3 And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” 4 And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. 5 And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
By the time we get to Mark’s fifth story of Jesus’ encounters with the religious leaders, we see that instead of accepting him as the Son of God, or Messiah, or Son of Man they are intentionally looking “so that they might accuse him,” and “how to destroy him.” They were there not to worship God, but to catch Jesus.
Notice that they fully believed that Jesus had the ability to heal, “And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath.” So, the issue was not could He heal, but would He heal “on the Sabbath.” Think about their reasoning; it is better for a man to suffer another 24 hours, than to be healed.
Why were they so angry with Jesus? Jesus refuses to submit to the adding on of man’s traditions. He didn’t recognize the Jewish leader’s skewed interpretation of the law (which He is the author). Even in the fact of healing proof, they held to the traditions of men.
Why is Jesus so angry with the religious leaders? Because he was “grieved at their hardness of heart.” They are accusing Jesus of breaking the sabbath, while at the same time plotting to kill him. They don’t see the hypocrisy in their own hearts. It is more important for these religious leaders to hold on to an old way, even if it is keeping sinners away from God.
 This consisted mainly in the transmission of traditional legal judgements, known as HALACHAH, and distinguished from HAGGADAH, or edifying religious discourse. The scribes’ real interest – and this applied especially to the Pharisaic scribes – was less in the plain meaning of the text than in the preservation of the legal system built upon it. . . . It was to their faithful transmission of the religion of Israel in the Greek and Roman periods that we owe the preservation of our OT scriptures, together with the foundations in Judaism of the Christian religion.” George Arthur Buttrick, Dictionary Editor, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, R-Z (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1962) 248.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1984) 632.
 Geabelein, 633.
 Buttrick, 671.
 James A. Brook, The New American Commentary, Volume 23, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1991) 59.
 Brooks, 59.
 Clifton Allen, The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1969) 281.
 Geabelein, 635.
 Lev. 16:29, 31; 23:27-32; Num. 29:7
 Allen, 284.
 Geabelein, 637.
 Exod. 25:30; 35:13; 39:36; Lev. 24:5-9.
 “According to the passage in Romans 1:18-32, the wrath (or anger) of God followed this pattern: (1) men who knew God nevertheless did not honor him but followed their own willful thoughts: (2) this resulted in futile thinking: “their senseless minds were darkened” (v. 21); (3) God gave them up to themselves, their own choices, their own baseness; (4) they received in their own persons the due penalty for their error” (v. 27); and (5) they came finally, no matter what they may have understood earlier to be right, blindly approve of evil (v. 32). This description of the workings of God’s wrath is also a description of hardness of heart.” Allen, 287.
Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
Remaining Focused On Your Calling In A World of Distractions
“We say we turn to our phones when we’re “bored.” And we often find ourselves bored because we have become accustomed to a constant feed of connection, information, and entertainment. We are forever elsewhere. At class or at church or business meetings, we pay attention to what interests us and then when it doesn’t, we look to our devices to find something that does. There is now a word in the dictionary called “phubbing.” It means maintaining eye contact while texting.”
Today we are going to see that Jesus is having to fight really hard to stay focused on His purpose in ministry. There are distractions that are constantly trying to derail his ministry. As a disciple of Christ, you too have a ministry that you are constantly being tempted to abandon. Let’s see how Jesus stays focused.
Jesus Knows His Ministry (vv. 14-15)
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
We don’t know how much time has passed, but Jesus has emerged from his 40 days of being tempted in the wilderness. John’s arrest gives us a rough estimate of time, “after John was arrested.” “Mark placed the beginning of Jesus’ ministry after the imprisonment of John.” Jesus then goes into Galilee and is “proclaiming the gospel of God” – Here the “gospel means, for Mark, the message of Jesus himself.”
Having started his ministry, Mark wants us to understand clearly that this message is about God (Jesus is the Son of God), and it is from God (the gospel of God) – it is not a manmade, human thought up myth.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” – “The time” means the time foreseen by prophets, the time fixed in God’s foreknowledge; “The hour has struck.” The Jewish people had longed for God to reestablish his earthly kingdom, where they would be His chosen people amongst all the other nations. The coming king would overthrow all empires that threaten His people, and he would reign as king.
Jesus says, this reigning of God on the earth, “the kingdom of God” is here. He is taking back territory, He is building His kingdom now. So how do we make sure that we don’t miss this “kingdom of God that is at hand?” Jesus says, one must, “repent and believe in the gospel.”
They were to believe that what God had promised in the Old Testament books was now being brought forth, “The time is fulfilled.” Jesus is saying “A new order is at hand. Get a new mind that fits it.”
The good news (gospel) of God’s kingdom being brought back is here – but they didn’t understand that this kingdom would be men’s souls, and their territory He would be getting back would be people not pieces of land, but men’s hearts.
Jesus Must Pass On The Ministry (vv. 16-20)
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.
Jesus surrounds himself with a group or people who will be with him all the way through his ministry. They will be able to give an account of what he did, what he said, and how others reacted to him. Jesus wants the gospel to spread to “the uttermost.”
“Follow me”— is a technical term for discipleship. Jewish teachers called their disciples to follow them: one would not presume to follow without an invitation. “The call to come after someone implies discipleship because it is the disciple who breaks all other ties to follow his master as a servant.”
And the phrase, “fishers of men” was an Old Testament figure of speech (Jeremiah 16:16) – where God was sending fishermen and hunters to catch/restore Israel. In the Jeremiah and other Old Testament passages – God playing the role of fisherman is ominous in tone, one of judgement.
We find ourselves surrounded by the net, and we are hunted like prey by evil – Jesus’ disciples (like in Jeremiah 16) reverse the tables and become the fisherman, seeking to catch and release men from their sin. Jesus came preaching, and the calling to His disciples is that they are be apart of restoring people back to God (away from judgment); restoring people to wholeness.
Mark emphasizes that “they left their nets” and “they left their father Zebedee” – being called by Jesus to become His disciples involves leaving something behind (break ties). Why is it important to emphasize what they left behind? Why not just say, “and they followed Jesus?”
To follow Jesus you have to leave things behind – a sinful lifestyle, a way of thinking about God, family, your career path, what you think makes you safe, even how you think the world works – everything has to be laid down. We are going to see that the disciples constantly think they understand the world, only to have Jesus turn it upside down. The Message of the gospel has to spread – but it has to be the right version of the gospel, it has to be God’s version.
Jesus’ Presence Strikes Fear in the Heart (vv. 21-22)
21 And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and was teaching. 22 And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
With several disciples, Jesus now travels about twenty miles to Capernaum, enters the synagogue there and “was teaching.” But Jesus’ teaching was distinctively different than other teachers of His day. “he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes” – “The scribes were the official teachers or expounders of the Torah; as a member of a school, the scribe would teach what he learned from his master – viz., the scribal tradition.”
The people reactions to Jesus’ teachings was astonishment; but this also conveys fear and alarm. Jesus taught with authority, meaning that there is no room for theological discussion, theoretical discussion, you were left with the impression that this was the Word of God. “In the presence of Jesus men are disturbed, and this disturbance is the precise act of fishing which Jesus had called the four fisherman.”
Eventually, these disciples would be preaching on their own – and their preaching would also cause people to be amazed, astonished, and faced with the question of “what to do with Jesus?” Also, if we go back to (v. 15) “the kingdom of God” – as reclaiming the hearts of men, reigning in the hearts of men. Jesus is showing his disciples how to preach the truth of the gospel, and that when He is gone, will multiply to truth outward (a multiplication effect instead of one man).
23 And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 And at once his fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.
“In his excited cry three elements appear – recognition, repulsion, and dread. The repulsion is first expressed, then the dread, and then the recognition of his character, which of course, the foundation of both.” The demons recognize what Jesus’ presence means, way before the people who are gathered around him understand.
Which do you think causes them more alarm, his teaching or the fact that he just cast out a demon? Look at their response, ““What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Jesus Heals Many (vv. 29-34)
29 And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. 31 And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. 32 That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
“And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him” – Jesus doesn’t want the demons to tell others about him. He also doesn’t want those he healed to tell others about Him. Why? This is a thread that runs through Mark, what scholars call the “Messianic Secret.” Jesus wants to reveal that He is the Messiah, but He wants to do it in such a way that the people understand.
Jesus Preaches in Galilee (vv. 35-39)
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.
Mark mentions Jesus going to a “desolate place” three times in his gospel (1:35; 1:45; 6:31-33), and in each reference it is after he/or the disciples have encountered large crowds of people and miracles were done. Jesus deliberately withdraws from the people to return to an area which has the characteristic of the wilderness where he encountered Satan and sustained temptation.
Mark doesn’t tell us what happened when Jesus faced Satan in the wilderness but it seems to deal with the clamor of the crowds. He is turning from their praise, returning to a place which recalls his determination to fulfill the mission for which he has come into the world.
The disciples are looking around and seeing all the people, and want to continue to capitalize of Jesus’ growing popularity. “Everyone is looking for you.” Or “Why are you hiding when we have this opportunity for you to do more miracles! Look how popular you are!
In response to the crowds looking for Jesus, He says let’s go to the next town, “that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” Jesus does not want to become a miracle worker side show. He wants to preach the “good news of the gospel.” The disciples think it’s all about the popularity, the show, the numbers. Jesus does not want the people to misunderstand why He is there.
The crowds response were not appropriate because it did not involve repentance of sin, but attraction to Jesus as a performer of miracles (how Jesus made them feel). Jesus could heal thousands and thousands of people, yet if they don’t repent of their sin, and place their faith in Christ, you haven’t done anything with the eternal, what ultimately really matters.
“and there he prayed” – Jesus separating himself to pray occurs three times in Mark, here at the beginning of his ministry, “in the middle after the feeding of the five thousand (6:46), and at the conclusion in the Garden of Gethsemane (14:32-42)” – These are all three critical moments in His ministry.
Why is this a crisis point? Because there is the danger to fail in His mission before He even gets started. “The crisis is the shallow and superficial response of the people to Jesus.” The people of Capernaum had no interest in Jesus beyond the miracles or any interest in coming under the reign of God.
Jesus Cleanses a Leper (vv. 40-45)
40 And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “If you will, you can make me clean.” 41 Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.” 42 And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. 43 And Jesus sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, for a proof to them.” 45 But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news, so that Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
The leper did not stand at a distance nor was he yelling “unclean” as the law stated and as we see in other healings of lepers in the NT. The “leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling,” – He is showing himself to be a person who acts in his own self-interest, not thinking about how his actions affects others. “Desperation may not be the most noble motive for seeking help, but Jesus does not scorn it.” Jesus shows compassion toward his illness, but anger toward his heart.
The tone of how Jesus responds to the leper seems to be one of anger. “Moved with pity” – some translations have “moved with anger,” also, when Mark says, “sent him away,” it is the same phrase for driving out demons. Jesus shows compassion by touching him, when no one else would touch him, but it is clear that Jesus is angry about something.
He tells the man “sternly charged him and sent him away at once, 44 and said to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone” “Don’t tell anyone, be quiet.” So does the man stay quiet? (v. 45) “But he went out and began to talk freely about it, and to spread the news”
“The command was not obeyed. Now the former leper could go anywhere, in and out of the cities freely. But the one who healed him could no longer openly enter a town without the immediate crush of the crowd.”
“The man had gotten his heart’s desire, but regarded not the heart’s desire of the Healer.”
“Exuberant Rebellion” – the man acted out of his feelings, not according to the mission of God. This man is doing what seems right to him, in direct rebellion of clear teaching of Scripture; he is doing what feels good, despite clear instructions from the Lord. Mark ends this section with this man’s example. “I am going to use Jesus to get what I want, while at the same time ignoring what He has to say.”
 Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, Penguin Publishing Group.
 “Mark apparently wants to show that John, the forerunner, completed his God-appointed task; and only after that had occurred did Jesus enter his ministry.” Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Press, 1984) 624.
 James A. Brooks, The New American Commentary, Volume 23, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1991) 46.
 George Arthur Buttrick, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 7 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1951) 655.
 Buttrick, 657.
 Ibid, 656.
 William L. Lane, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel According to Mark (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993) 67.
 Buttrick, 660.
 Lane, 72.
 “It was commonly believed that if one knew the name of the demonic power, he might exorcise it.” Clifton Allen, General Editor, The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1969) 275. Also see, Frank E. Gaebelein, General Editor, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing House, 1984) 627.
 W. N. Clarke, An American Commentary on the New Testament, Volume 2 Mark and Luke (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Judson Press, 1950) 25.
 C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
 Lane, 81.
 Ibid, 82.
 Gaebelein. 629.
 Brooks, 53.
 Allen, Volume 8, 278
 Clarke, 31.
Christ’s Power Over Every Need
The Gospel of Mark Sermon Series
The Beginning of When the World Was Changed
As we begin our study of the gospel of Mark we need to understand that each gospel is different yet united by telling the same story. They are like the southern accent. Many people think there are two southern accents (Redneck and Plantation) but I can assure you there are many varieties of southern speak. And just for your information, I know how to properly wear a pair of overalls, I do not let one side hang down, undone, and no I do not know how to play the banjo.
Matthew – has lots of facts, full stories, so this accents rolls around in the mouth like those in Tennessee. They are thinking about the words as they say them. They use the word y’all, and talk about football, and whose playing this weekend.
Luke-Acts – two large accounts of Jesus and the church beginning, is like southerners in Savannah or Montgomery. Full, large words, you take time to unpack the words, and they are spoken in the back of the throat. S-A-V-A-N-A-H – this is the Long Horn Leg Horn southern.
John – as the synoptic gospel is doing it’s own thing. It’s used to its own space. This is Alabama, their mouths are open wide, noses scrunch up, and they talk nasally. “What’s Ya’ll doing Friday night? We are going to mamas for lunch after church.”
Mark – is like going to the bayou of Louisiana. People speak quickly, words are cut in half and combined with other words. You add in Cajun and French, When Mississippi people are talking you better hang out to figure out what’s going on. “do like that there.” “Living in uptown.”
The Introduction of Jesus
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God. This is when it began to move from town to town, person to person, from the country roads of Galilee, to the city streets of Jerusalem. It made it’s way to the poorest of the poor, and to the wealthiest and most powerful. It made it’s way through generation, after generation and when I was nine years old, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God made it’s way to my VBS classroom and took root in my heart.
“The gospel does not mean a book, or the message delivered by Jesus, but “the Christian proclamation of the divine message of salvation through Jesus Christ.”
We are told quickly that this account is about Jesus who was the Son of God, “later demonic forces acknowledged Him as “the Son of God” (3:11; 5:7) and at the cross the Roman centurion asserts, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (15:39).”
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
(v. 2) “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet” – more specifically it says, “just as it is written.” It was foretold that this would happen, and it did happen “just as it was written.” This is an exact prophetic fulfillment. Mark begins his account by stating how Jesus fulfilled prophecy, even from “the beginning.”
The quotation is from Isa. 40:3 verse 2b is from Exodus 23:30. The gospel is not something new that has suddenly appeared – it has long been anticipated since Genesis 3:15 “. . . he [Jesus] shall bruise your head, and you [Satan] shall bruise his heel.” Since the beginning of time there was a promise that a Savior would come and save mankind from sin – this is the beginning of that great story.
“It had been at least three hundred years since a word had come from God.” It had been a long time since God gave Israel a “word from the Lord.”
John is not crying out in the marketplace or cities, or temples – the Baptizer was “one crying in the wilderness” The desert region in which John started his ministry of baptism is sometimes in the Old Testament called Jeshimmon, which means “devastation.” The people who had not heard from the Lord in generations, now as foretold John the Baptizer was yelling out in the wilderness, “the Savior of the world was coming,” and he’s coming to devastation. The world had been devastated by sin, and now God is going to make it right again.
So out in the wilderness there was a great movement of God, “all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him” His cry was that someone was coming and we need to prepare ourselves for His arrival.
And his message was “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight, — God’s Word applies to us today, so how does one today, prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight? It is what John the Baptist said then, yet we are still to take it and use it today.
We are given hints to the answer to this question in what follows in Mark’s account – John’s actions (baptizing for the forgiveness of sin; His dress (simple and humble camel hair and a leather belt), His diet (eating what is around him), His understanding of himself (there will come one who is greater than I) but ultimately all of these things point to John’s message “repent of your sin.”
“The preparation was to be made in their hearts. The way of the Lord is through the heart. They prepared “the way of the Lord” by preparing and making their hearts fit for receiving the Lord.”
There was a massive movement of God where “all the country of Judea, and all Jerusalem” (v. 4) “John appeared,” (egneto Ioanes) The word used for appearing is not in reference to an event (en), but an epoch (egneto). His appearing marked the beginning of something new, and God highlighted by moving in thousands of people’s hearts and minds. “John is treating the Jewish nation as pagans who need to repent, to confess their sins, and to come back to the kingdom of God.”
“Jerusalem is at least twenty miles from the Jordan River and about four thousand feet above it. It was hard going down the rugged Judean hills to the Jordan and even harder coming back up.” Those going to see John were feeling the drawing of God to repent of their sin. “It is not remorse; not admitting mistakes; not saying in self-condemnation, “I have been a fool.” This is more than saying, “I’m sorry for one’s sins.”
[Repentance] It is a moral and spiritual revolution.” It is a radical mindset change toward sin. It is “a change that will have, if genuine, its appropriate “fruits.”” (v. 3) “baptizing in the wilderness” – another word to define baptism is to be overwhelmed. John’s baptism was a picture of a people overwhelmed by the guilt and weight of their sin.
The road is made straight in our lives, and the way is prepared (for the Savior) when we humble ourselves before God and say, “I am a sinner” and I hate the sin that is in my life – I want it gone. (v. 5) says that they were “confessing their sins.” In this admission and understanding, you are not alone; Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Our introduction of Jesus is that it begins with a recognition that we have a sin problem – the good news is that God has provided an answer. Many of John’s disciples left John to become followers of Jesus because now that we have seen our sin for what it is, and we repent and seek righteousness – we can do nothing with our sin. We need a Savior.
Before we leave John, I want to highlight his words, “I am not worthy” – thousands of people were coming to see John and to be baptized by him. Anywhere he went, he would have been recognized. There was a mighty movement of God surrounding him. He was preaching constantly – yet, in the original language it says, “I am not suitable, a fit person – to do for him even this most menial service.”
This was his humble utterance of a comparison between him and the Savior before Him. None of us are suitable, none of us are fit to do anything for the Lord. Isaiah 64:6 “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” (like filthy rags).
(v. 8) John says, “I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” – John’s water baptism was a symbolic picture of people being overwhelmed with their sin and wanting to repent from it – so they show this inward heart’s feeling by being overwhelmed in water. When we place our faith in Christ, we are overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He (Jesus) will overwhelm you by surrounding you, immersing you, with the Holy Spirit.
Before Jesus began his public ministry there were two events that took place first;
his baptism by John, and the temptation.
The Baptism of Jesus
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The first time we see Jesus in Mark’s gospel is at His baptism. No shepherds, no wise men, no angels appearing to Mary and Joseph – our journey with Jesus begins with a voice from heaven. Mark was not written for “a people who would have little interest in the genealogy of Jesus, or anything but the work by which he had become precious to them. So while John begins from eternity, Matthew from Abraham, and Luke from the events that preceded the birth of the forerunner, Mark finds the forerunner already at work, and introduces Jesus at the time of his baptism.”
(v. 9) “9 In those days” – When the movement of God was in the wilderness, and people were being overwhelmed by their sin – “Jesus came from Nazareth” There was a calling, a direction by God, to put down his carpenter’s apron and hammer, and go to where God was moving among the people. He was waiting for the right time – for the announcement.
Jesus “was baptized by John in the Jordan” – Jesus is being overwhelmed, not with a weight of sin, but with the calling to begin His ministry. He was officially beginning the Messianic work of being the Savior of the world. So that when John brought him up from the water – immediately “he saw the heavens being torn open.”
“the Spirit descending on him like a dove” – At Jesus’ baptism is the only place that the Holy Spirit is described to us to be “like a dove.” When Jesus begins his public ministry, He asks for a scroll of Isaiah to be brought to him, and he reads Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me.”
“And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son” – In verse 1 the reader is told that what we are reading is, “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” and now here is a voice from heaven affirming that Jesus is the Son of God. Now the story that unfolds in the rest of the book, is not about a good moral teacher, or a historical narrative of a Jewish moral man – it is the story of how salvation was brought to humanity through the Son of God, Jesus Christ (who is loved by God the Father).
The Temptation of Jesus
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
Now that the Spirit has descended upon Jesus, the first thing the Spirit does is to lead him toward the Temptation for forty days. But even though Mark’s account is brief, it does give a detail that is not found in the other accounts, where it says “And he was with the wild animals.”
Mark doesn’t tell us any details about what happened between Jesus and Satan, whether the animals were against Jesus or for Him; and we don’t know what the angels did in the wilderness to minister to Jesus. Only that Jesus and Satan were battling for forty days.
“For the first time since events in the Garden of Eden, Satan confronted a completely sinless person. However, whereas Adam was created a sinless being, Jesus was sinless by virtue of His being the very Son of God!”
A. Ironside remarks, “It was fitting that he should be tested before He began His gracious ministry. His temptation was not to see if perchance he might fail and sin in the hour of stress, but rather to prove that He would not fail, because He was the absolutely sinless One.”
 George Arthur Buttrick, Commentary Editor, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 7 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1980) 648.
 James McGowan, Twenty-First Century Biblical Commentary Series, The Gospel of Mark (Chattanooga, Tennessee; AMG Publishers, 2006) 10.
 “The outpouring of the Spirit was understood traditionally as an established characteristic of the messianic age (Isa. 44:3; Ezek. 36:25-27; Joel 2:28); however, John’s use of the expression “Baptize you with the Holy Spirit” here, was both new and unique.” McGowan, 11.
 Buttrick, 649.
 Rodney L. Cooper, Holman New Testament Commentary, Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; Holman Reference, 2000) 7.
 C.E.W. Dorris, A Commentary on the Gospel According to Mark (Nashville, Tennessee; The Gospel Advocate, 1970) 17.
 Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 1 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Press, 1932) 253.
 Robertson, 254.
 Frank E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible, Volume 8 (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing, 1984) 620.
 Buttrick, 649.
 Clarke, 16.
 Clarke, 18.
 “Jesus probably began his public ministry about A.D. 27, when he was approximately thirty years old.” Gaebelein, 621.
 W. N. Clarke, An American Commentary on the New Testament, Mark and Luke (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; Judson Press, 1950) 15.
 Clarke, 21.
 On two other occasions God spoke from heaven about Christ (Mark 9:7) – at the Transfiguration and during the last week at the temple (John 12:28). . . Jesus did not “become the Christ” at His baptism. He was already the Messiah, already God manifest in the flesh. This event dramatically inaugurated His public ministry.” McGowan, 12.
 McGowan, 13.