I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. – Mark 1:8
With its loud roar and impressive mane, the lion is a fascinating species. How much do you know about this king of beasts?
In size, male lions can be as large as eight feet long, four feet high at the shoulder, and 550 pounds in weight. Lions live in family units called prides, which may have 4-37 members. The females do most of the hunting, usually in the evenings. They pursue such animals as giraffes or zebras at speeds of about 35 miles per hour. And a lions roar can be heard nearly six miles away!
It may seem strange to you that weve gone into this much detail about an animal. but its important that we know about the lion because it is a traditional symbol of the Gospel of Mark, our focus for study this month. The lion represents the strength and power of the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5), who is Jesus Christ, and the arrival of His kingdom.
According to early church tradition, the author of Mark is John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas who accompanied him and Paul on part of their first missionary journey (see Acts 12:25). This Gospel is based on the preaching of Peter and was probably written in Rome during the last days of the apostles life.
Since it was originally intended to be read by the suffering Roman church, Marks themes include persecution, the cost of discipleship, and servanthood. As you study with us this month, youll also find that a straightforward style, vivid narrative, and constant action characterize the Marks Gospel.
As the book opens, John the Baptist is calling on Israel to repent from sin. The heart of his message is that a greater One will follow him (Mark 1:7-8).
In verse 9 we find that that person is Jesus of Nazareth. John baptizes Him, not because Jesus needed to repent of sin, but as a public affirmation of the Messiah. The entire Trinity is involved the Son is baptized, the Father speaks from heaven, and the Spirit descends like a dove. The gospel story has begun!
The first verse of the book of Mark announces the beginning of the gospel. Do you understand and believe the gospel message, the good news of Jesus Christ? He loves you and died to save you from the penalty of sin death. If you believe this truth, you are a child of God!
If you are not sure or have not yet become a follower of Christ, dont delay! Accept Him as your Savior today. You might say a prayer similar to this: Dear God, I know Im a sinner and deserve death. But I believe you love me and sent your Son to die in my place. I accept your gift of eternal life and ask Jesus to live in me as my Savior and Lord.
Jesus replied, Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.- Matthew 3:15
In his best-selling book Rick Warren notes that the search for purpose in life has puzzled people for thousands of years. The reason, he explains, is because we usually begin at the wrong starting point. We begin with ourselves. The real secret to purpose is found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Today we are beginning a month-long study of the life of Jesus as it is described in the Gospel of Mark. It is a lively account, full of action. In it we will see how all that Jesus did during His earthly ministry was influenced by His own sense of purpose. Our lives will lack purpose without a proper understanding of Christ.
Marks gospel begins with a brief description of the ministry of John, the one who came baptizing in the desert and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Mark indicates that Johns ministry of preaching and baptism fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3. John was sent to set the stage for the coming Messiah and announce His purpose. Johns message promised that the one who came after him would indeed baptize with the Holy Spirit.
According to Matthews Gospel, John objected when Jesus came to him to be baptized by him. Jesus convinced him by explaining that it was proper to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15). This phrase might just as well have been Jesus mission statement. The appropriateness of Jesus actions were confirmed by God the Fathers public testimony. When the Holy Spirit visibly descended in the form of a dove, it affirmed the Fathers love for Jesus and marked Him as the one who would baptize in the Spirit. It is significant that the first action Jesus took once He began His public ministry was to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit (v. 12).
Jesus actions exemplify the two most important dimensions of a life of purpose. He knew what God the Father had called Him to do, and He was responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in His life. We too have a purpose to fulfill and are led by the Spirit of God (Phil. 2:13; Rom. 8:14).
As we begin this study of the purpose of Christ as it is revealed in the Gospel of Mark, take a few minutes to think about your own life. Look over your calendar for the last month. In what have you been investing your time? Take a few minutes to review your finances. What do they say about your priorities? Now summarize your conclusions in a single purpose statement that accurately reflects what you have seen. Are you satisfied with it? If not, ask God to use our studies in the next few weeks to show you where changes need to be made.
The Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. –
The legendary Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, The highest form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by strategy. This also describes the tactic that our greatest enemy, Satan, uses in his spiritual warfare against humanity. Satans strategy against Jesus in the deserthalf-truths and cunning deceptionis the same that he uses to this very day.
The first test concerns provision. Although Satan in some sense acknowledged Jesus divine sonship, he tempted Jesus to take matters into His own hands, rather than trust the Father to provide. Jesus refused to enter into any discussion and instead quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3. The rest of this verse says that, rather than bread, were to live on Gods Word, which is exactly what Jesus was doing during the temptation.
The second test concerns power. Somehow Satan was able to show Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and offered them to Him. After his boasting, Satan slipped in the fact that to receive these kingdoms, Jesus would have to worship him in the process. Breaking the first commandment was clearly not something that Jesus would do, as His quote from Deuteronomy 6:13 showed. Besides, the Father would give all the kingdoms of the world to His Son, so Satan was actually tempting Jesus to avoid the cross and His redemptive work.
The third test concerns protection. Satan took Jesus to the highest part of temple, probably the Royal Porch, which overlooked the Kidron Valley, some 450 feet below. To jump from there meant certain death. Here Satan upped the ante by quoting Scripture himself (Ps. 91:11-12), but twisting it horribly. Jesus replied with Deuteronomy 6:16, clearly understanding that testing God is not the way to prove His protection.
Jesus complete faithfulness to the Father in this trial anticipated His faithfulness on the cross, the event that meant Satans decisive defeat.
Satan tests us in the same area in which Jesus was testedour faithfulness to God. Todays passage shows that responding in faithfulness depends upon knowing Gods Word. As we learn His Word, the Spirit brings it to our attention at just the right moment. Are you growing in knowledge of the Word? If you arent already in a Bible study or Sunday school class, consider joining one this month. In addition to your daily Bible study, youll grow from studying the Word with other believers.
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. – Luke 5:32
Evangelist D. L. Moody was deeply affected by the observation of Henry Varley who said, The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him. It is a challenging question. Yet it brings to mind an even more challenging one. What can God do with an ordinary person?
Few of us would say that we meet the criteria described by Varley. Its not that we are unconsecrated to God. Its just that we see ourselves as falling into the class of people that can best be described as average. We are not the brightest or the boldest. We do not stand out in a crowd. Were just regular people.
According to todays passage, we are just the sort of people that Jesus Christ seeks to be His followers. The first disciples that Jesus called were fishermen casting their nets into the lake. He did not go to the religious elite to select those who would become His apostles; He went to common men as they went about their daily business. This is often the context for Gods call. Moses and David were called to special service while guarding the flock (Ex. 3:1; 1 Sam. 16:11). Elisha was called while plowing his fathers field (1 Kings 19:19).
When the call to special service finally came, it brought with it the expectation of an immediate response. Simon, Andrew, James, and John all answered Christs call without delay (v. 20). They left their nets and their families behind in order to take up a new calling as fishers of men (v. 17). In each case obedience was costly. They abandoned their livelihood and may have faced family disapproval for taking up a more controversial and certainly less lucrative calling.
Later in his ministry Peter would remind Jesus of the sacrifices they had made and inquire about what they would gain in return. Jesus promised that anyone who has left goods or family behind for the sake of the kingdom of God will eventually receive a hundred times as much in addition to eternal life (Matt. 19:28-29; Mark 10:29-31).
Are you longing to do something great for God? In most cases the greatest thing we can do for God is the thing He has put in front of us to do. It might be doing your best on the job or serving your family with an attitude of joy. Serving God is a matter of daily obedience that is worked out in the home and on the job.
Remind yourself of your responsibility to consecrate yourself to God by copying Henry Varleys quote and placing it where you will be able to see it as you go about your daily affairs..
Mark 1:14-45 Come, follow me, Jesus said, and I will make you fishers of men. –
In Brazil, more than 15mothers in 600 local churches are praying their children to the mission field!
Founder Ana Maria Pereira believed that Brazilian moms would be eager to join together to pray for the salvation and future ministry of their children. She was right. Since 1995, the Wake Up Deborah movement has grown rapidly. Participants promise to pray 15 minutes daily that their children will trust Christ and take the gospel to unreached people groups. Says Pereira: No one prays for a child like Mom!
Christs call to follow Him and become fishers of men can come in many forms the prayers of these mothers are a beautiful example.
After His baptism, Jesus began a ministry of public preaching and called His first disciples Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John. Because these disciples were fishermen, Jesus used a familiar metaphor from their daily lives, inviting them to join Him in the work of fishing for souls (v. 17). They obeyed immediately, leaving what they were doing to follow Him.
As Jesus preaches that the kingdom is near, His reputation spreads and grows. People can see for themselves that His words and actions have divine power He casts out demons and heals a leper and many others. Clearly, His authority comes from God, but at this time He does not allow the demons to speak (v. 25), nor the ex-leper (v. 44). Why? It is not yet time for Him to be fully revealed. Gods plan would unfold in its own time.
In todays reading Jesus displays both His power, and His compassion (v. 41). Jesus was not a power-hungry rabbi or a calculating politician, but the incarnate Lord sent to love and heal suffering people.
TODAY ALONG THE WAY In the midst of a busy and powerful ministry, Jesus made it a point to withdraw for special times of prayer (v. 35). If our Lord needed to do so, how much more do we!
Take some time today to do a self-check on your prayer life. Are you spending regular, intimate time with God? Are you balancing praise, confession, and petition? Do you use a prayer list, a prayer journal, or another tool? Do you look forward to times of prayer, or dread them as a duty?
Ask the Holy Spirit to create a new hunger for prayer in your daily life.
Mark 1:1620An Intimate Friendship: A Fisherman Named Andrew
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, We have found the Messiah. John 1:41
Earlier this year Justin Wijaya posted a photo of his grandparents to a social media site with the caption, 70 years together. The photo showed a frail, elderly man in a hospital bed holding hands with an old woman. Wijaya explained that his grandmother has had various health problems for the past ten years, and now her husband has been diagnosed with advanced-stage leukemia at the age of 95. Yet they continue to care for one another. My grandfather and old Chinese people are not very open about speaking their feelings about their loved one. For me action speaks much louder than words and throughout the years the unconditional love he has given to my grandmother, his children, and all his grandchildren are all the proof I need.
One disciple who was with Jesus from beginning to end of His time on earth was Andrew. He and his brother Simon Peter left their fishing nets to follow Jesus. In Johns Gospel, Andrew told Simon about Jesus! And throughout Scripture, Andrew was characterized by bringing people to Jesus. When crowds were hungry after hearing Jesus teach, he found a boy with some fish and bread.
Along with the other disciples, Andrew had the privilege to spend private time with Jesus away from the other disciples. He was able to gain a perspective on the person of Jesus that few others had. He was among the very first to recognize Jesus as Messiah, and then was privileged to spend three years with Jesus. Not unlike a devoted spouse, who continues to discover new facets of his beloved over the years, no doubt Andrew was surprised again and again to discover just what type of Messiah Jesus was. And he didnt want to keep the good news to himselfAndrew wanted others to know Jesus too!
Its impossible to keep deep love a secret. It will bubble up in our conversation, the way we care for our loved one, and in the way we plan our time. Is this true of us with Jesus? Do we talk about Him? Do we plan time to be with Him in prayer and in His Word? Does it change the way we live? We are able to love Him because He loved us first (1 John 4:19)..
Mark 1:21-38How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news. – Isaiah 52:7
Joseph Pulitzer, the nineteenth-century newspaper baron and founder of the Pulitzer prize, believed in the power of the press. Not only was Pulitzer convinced that a newspaper ought to be one of the most powerful institutions on earth, he believed that its influence ought to extend beyond the earth. Pulitzer once conceived of a scheme to erect a sign so large that it would be visible on the planet Mars. He planned to use it to advertise his newspaper.
Pulitzer was right about one thing: good news can have a global impact. Thats especially true when the message being spread is the good news of the gospel. In the New Testament the term that is translated gospel literally means good news. The verbal form is the word from which we get the term evangelize. To evangelize is to proclaim the good news. Another term used in the New Testament to speak of the proclamation of the gospel is a word that meant to act as a herald.
Jesus came to announce the good news of Gods grace and the offer of forgiveness. Although He performed many miracles, He did not see working miracles as His primary mission. When Jesus was being pursued by those who were chiefly interested in the healings He had performed, He did not stay behind and bask in their acclaim. Instead, He took His disciples to the next village and continued to proclaim the gospel without delay.
Miracles were an important part of Jesus ministry but they served a particular function. Their purpose was to authenticate Jesus as Gods chosen Messiah and to highlight His message. If we had needed only a miracle worker, God could have sent one of the prophets. We needed much more. What makes the gospel good news is its message that Jesus Christ came to give His life on behalf of sinners. Divine healing may provide health for a lifetime, but only Jesus can make us whole for all eternity.
Jesus determination not to be a distraction from His primary mission of proclaiming the gospel helps us to put our own lives in perspective. The health of the body is indeed important. But the health of the soul is most important of all.
Have you allowed other important responsibilities to distract you from the responsibility of sharing the good news about Jesus Christ with others? Were busy, and its easy to get distracted by obligations and concerns that crowd their way into our world. Make a list of people you know that you have not yet had an opportunity to speak to about Jesus Christ. Now choose the name of the person on the list you are most likely to see in the next week. Pray daily for the Spirit to give you an opportunity to share what Jesus has done for you.
Mark 1:2128Put Back into Community: A Man Who Was Unclean
The people were amazed at his teaching. Mark 1:22
At the close of 2002 and into 2003, the first dangerous communicable disease to emerge during the twenty-first century was Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. Having originated in animal populations, SARS migrated to humans, crossed national borders and nearly became a pandemic. Symptoms included fever, headache, cough, and trouble breathing. One of the preventive measures used during the outbreak was quarantine. By containing those who had been exposed to the virus, its potential to spread was limited. But before the virus was recognizable, it was unknowingly transmitted between continents by passengers on transoceanic airline flights.
When a man touched by an impure spirit entered the temple on a Sabbath, his affliction was undetectable. Because those affected by disease, disability, and demonic possession were identified as unclean and often isolated from their communities, he would not have been granted access to the synagogue if his condition had been recognized. Though the man slipped in during a lucid moment, once Jesus began teaching, the demon possessing him shouted out in response to Jesus authority. When Jesus rebuked the spirit, it shook the man violently and then leapt out of him with a shriek.
What Jesus did for the man was akin to declaring him healthy and diseasefree. Once delivered, the man was free to engage again with his community. Not only delivered from demon possession, he was also delivered from isolation and loneliness. Jesus healing touch in the life of this man, as it had been with so many others, was pervasive, transforming his mind, heart and even relationships. Not only was the man restored mentally and emotionally, he was also restored to his family, friends, and community as a member who was fully accepted and embraced.
Have you been taken out of relationships? Perhaps you have a health condition that has limited your availability, or maybe a broken relationship has kept you from others. Jesus doesnt just restore our relationship with God, but also our relationships with others. Seek reconciliation, or explore ways that you can connect through letters, emailand prayer!
Mark 1:2128A man possessed freed at Capernaum
Few modern experiences provide the same level of frustration as trying to call a customer-service number. You first have to navigate whats called a phone tree or menu: Press 1 for accounts, press 2 for billing, press 3 for returns, press 4 for customer satisfaction If you finally reach an actual person, he or she might not have the authority to actually resolve your issue.
The teachers of the law in Jesus day appeared to be of little service to the people they taught. Though they claimed to be subject to the law, they often wielded it as their own weapon of oppression. Jesus was different. Mark first pointed out the authority of His teaching. The Pharisees may have been authoritative in their heavy-handed politics, but not in their teaching. But authoritative teaching wasnt the only differenceJesus had spiritual authority as well.
Even the demonic spirit who possessed this man recognized who Jesus was, and the demon was clearly troubled. Scripture
doesnt clearly state why Jesus quieted the demon. It could have been to prevent publicizing His identity as the Son of God so early in His ministry. He may have just been acting out of compassion for the man. Jesus may have also taken particular offense at hearing an unclean entity speaking His holy name.
We dont know the definitive answer to why, but the how is unmistakable. Jesus authority extended to the spiritual world, and the demon obeyed Jesus and left the man. He also opened the eyes of the crowd. His authority was unique, and His teaching was new (v. 27).
The response of the teachers of the law demonstrated that the only alternative they could offer was to point out peoples weaknesses, recite from the laws they had added to and manipulated, and urge the people to attain righteousness on their own. Jesus, though, could help. He taught with authority and ruled with power. And with this power, He offered hope.
As is often the response to Jesus, news of this event traveled fast. People told about His wonderful works, and the reaction of these eyewitnesses that we can share as our own today is amazement. Be amazed at who Jesus is. He has authority over the evil we face. He reigns sovereign over the spirits that threaten us. And because of His power, we can trust Him to help us no matter what we face!
Mark 1:2931Restored to Serve: The Mother-in-Law of Simon
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. Matthew 20:28
When a sorceress disguised as an old hag begged at the castle door of a young prince, she encountered a rude, arrogant young man. She cast a curse upon him that transformed him into a hideous beast, and it would not be broken until he was able to love and be loved. In the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, the prince was ultimately freed by a beautiful bookworm named Belle, who did grow to love him despite his gruff exterior. The spell broken, the prince was restored to rule his kingdom. As a result of the curse and his redemption, he was now a different type of ruler: one who was just, kind, and compassionate. The princes liberation affected not only him, but also others.
This fairytale echoes peoples encounters with Jesus. Set free from sin, disease, and disability, each was delivered in order to be a testimony about Jesus. Early in His ministry, as Jesus called His disciples and began His healing work, the word about Him was spreading like wildfire. When He and His disciples arrived at the home of Simon and Andrew, Simons mother-in-law was sick in bed with a fever. Going to her, perhaps in a private section of the home, Jesus took her hand and helped her up. Being healed in her rising, transformed by Jesus touch, she immediately began to serve her guests.
What this woman experienced, in the touch of Jesus, was being set free to serve. Like a fairy-tale prince born to serve others with justice and compassion, she was delivered so that now she could serve others who also had physical and spiritual needs. As He did for so many with broken bodies and hearts, Jesus put her back into relationship with others.
Being saved by Jesus is meant to affect not only the one saved, but also those around him or her. In what ways have you been called to serve those around you? What gifts has Jesus given you to offer to others? These acts of service are supposed to be a testimony to Gods work in our lives, a way that we bear witness to His healing and restoration..
The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news! – Mark 1:15
We have been studying accounts of some women in the Old Testament whose stories are less well known. Now we turn our attention to women who have small roles in the Gospels. The culturepolitical, religious, and legalof the first century was patriarchal and male-centered. Women were typically viewed as having significantly less value than men, and the societal place for women was confined to domestic roles of wife and mother. In this context, the respect, dignity, and empowerment that Jesus gives women throughout His ministry are all the more remarkable. Jesus heals and restores women; He includes them as His followers; and women become heralds of His life and participants in His church. Today we encounter one of the first women Jesus healed, Simon Peters mother-in-law.
After teaching in the synagogue, Jesus and His disciples made their way to Simon Peters family estate. They arrived to find Simons mother-in-law in bed with a high fever. The brevity of verse 31 emphasizes the power of Jesus to restore this woman immediately. The authority of Jesus to heal is not some psychosomatic power of suggestion but a genuine miracle of divine intervention. Approximately thirty percent of Marks Gospel recounts the miracles and healings of Jesus, demonstrating the inauguration of Gods redemptive reign on earth (cf. Isaiah 61).
Simon Peters mother-in-law, cured from her ailment, jumped out of bed and began to serve Jesus and His disciples. Some modern readers criticize this scene from a so-called feminist perspective: the poor woman is bedridden from a dangerous fever one minute and the next minute is expected to return to her duty of waiting on the men. Such a critique is misguided in at least two ways. First, it is incorrect to impose a contemporary standard for gender roles that was completely nonexistent in the first century. Even more importantly, Marks emphasis is on Jesus deep care and immediate attention to this sick woman. Jesus completely restored her; He did not oppress her. Her service was her loving response to the Christ who healed her.
Simons mother-in-law exemplifies living in Gods grace. What is your response to Jesus love and ministry in your life? Is it grateful service in His kingdom or a guilt-ridden obligation to serve Him? Do you serve God in order to earn salvation or rather in response to it? Reflect today on your motives for serving God. Repent of ways you may have distorted the blessing of loving service to Him, ask God to help you live out of a grateful response to His love and grace.
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. – Mark 2:17
The United States government is based on an intricate, three-way balance of power set up in our Constitution. Congress is responsible to make the laws, the President to enforce them, and the Supreme Court to interpret them.
Theoretically, each branch of government has its own set of powers, as well as a way to hold the other branches accountable. This is called a system of checks and balances. While each part of the government has authority, no single part has absolute power.
Gods authority, on the other hand, is absolute. No one holds Him accountable, there is no need for checks and balances, because He is perfect.
When Jesus appeared on earth wielding the authority of God, He amazed and offended those who thought of Him as merely human. In fact, we could say that the Gospel of Mark is the story of Jesus revealing His divine identity and authority bit by bit until the evidence is overwhelming.
We find an example of this in the case of the paralytic. When friends lowered the paralytic through the roof into the room where Jesus was speaking, everyone expected a physical healing. And Jesus did heal the man, but first He forgave the mans sins. The teachers of the law understood that, in doing this, Jesus was claiming Gods authority after all, only God can forgive sins but they could say nothing in the face of Jesus self-evident power.
The religious leaders already opposed Jesus at this early time in His ministry. He was criticized for eating meals with sinners, a gesture of intimate fellowship to which no Pharisee would stoop. Jesus, on the other hand, had come to search out and save those who were lost.
The Pharisees also complained that Jesus disciples didnt fast. To this, Jesus responds that His coming is a reason for rejoicing, not grieving (v. 19), though even this early He is hinting that He will be taken away before too long (v. 20). The Divine Bridegroom had arrived, but the Pharisees refused to recognize His identity or authority.
Studying any of the four Gospels takes us back to the basics. How? As Christians we are to be little Christs and what better source of information than a biography of Christ? In studying the life of our Lord we find a pattern for our own lives.
In this spirit, wed like to suggest that you keep a running list of the attributes of Christ observed during this months study. For example, from todays reading you might jot down healer, authority from God, or