Mark 1

Made Like Us

For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:17-18

The Gospel of Mark does not begin with family background and a genealogy like Matthew and Luke, nor does it begin with a theological explanation like John. Typical of this book of action, Mark begins with Jesus’ first act of public ministry: being baptized by John the Baptist.

Mark tied his account to the prophetic promise to send a messenger to prepare the way of the Lord (Mark 1:1-3, citing Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1). He immediately identified Jesus as the Christ (Greek for Messiah) and the “Son of God.” By the way, the word immediately or some form of it occurs frequently, more than ten times in the first chapter, and over forty times throughout the book.

Mark’s first chapter includes many of the elements found in the rest of the book: healing, casting out unclean spirits, and teaching. Jesus called disciples to follow him—unusual because usually the men who wanted to be discipled would seek the rabbi and ask if they could follow him.

When Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law, the whole town gathered at the door. The next day the disciples wanted to stay and bask in the popularity. They interrupted Jesus’ private prayer time, exclaiming, “Everyone is looking for you!” (1:38).

But Jesus said He must go to other towns and preach—that was His priority. He wanted others to repent and believe the message He brought, “The kingdom of God is at hand” (v. 14). Indeed the King was among them.

Yet, though He was King, He identified with us and served us. He didn’t need to be baptized—He hadn’t sinned! His baptism was for our sakes. After He died for our sins, we could receive His righteousness, just as if we had obeyed the Law as perfectly as He did.

“The kingdom of God is at hand.” Some day soon we will see the Kingdom in its fullness “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

Like the disciples, have you dropped whatever you’re doing to follow the King and serve others?

DIG DEEPER:

Compare the descriptions and messages of John the Baptist and Jesus. How are they alike? How are they different? See Mark 1:2-3 and 11, 1:4-6 and 12-13, 1:7-8 and14-15.

Even after a very full day of ministry, what did Jesus do early the next morning? What purpose might He have had in doing this? Where did He want His focus to be? Is this a principle for your life?

What “tools” did Jesus have that are available to us? See 1 Peter 2:9-10, Mark 13:9-11, and Revelation 1:4-6.

Mark quotes Isaiah’s prophetic promise (Isaiah 40:3), but we’re probably more familiar with Malachi’s promise (Malachi 3:1) made 400 years before Jesus was born. Isaiah’s promise had been made almost 400 years before Malachi. How does seeing the fulfillment of these promises help us who have been waiting for thousands of years for other promises to be fulfilled? See also 2 Peter 3:9-14.

 Nancy J. Baker

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