(3) The Mark Challenge Chapter 1 Verses 16-45

The purpose of these posts are to help you search out things in the Scriptures.  These posts are to give you ideas of what you should be looking for as you are going through your study.  These are certainly not extensive commentaries, and are not intended to be, but rather guidelines, ideas, questions to ponder and consider, and observations.

Note that Mark moves rapidly, but does so with excellent and designed structure in order to emphasize the power of Jesus’ ministry.  The points the writer makes are progressive throughout the entire book.  It all flows as one building up to the grand climax of the book.  Take a close look at the building of chapter one into chapter two.  

Jesus came on the scene preaching repentance after John was put in prison.  John’s work was completed, now Jesus’ pathway is made straight and it is time that the world sees that the Kingdom of God has come to earth.

Jesus walks by the seaside to search out the men He would call to walk with Him and learn the Word.  We know from the other Gospel writes that they had met Jesus previously and had been challenged.  Those men were ready to move closer to God and be used for something much greater than catching fish.  They left their nets behind at the beckoning of Jesus.  It was a major step they took.  This was their livelihood!   This is the cost of following Jesus and He didn’t consider it too great a price.  The trust they put in Jesus is remarkable!  How were they going to make a living?  What would their families think of them?  What would the people of their community think?  Doesn’t this seem like an irrational move?  It probably seemed to most to be very foolish, but what about God?  How did He feel about their decision?  He was great with it! He is the one that called them to do this!  

Jesus starts by preaching repentance – turning people from sin.  This is intended by the writer to tell Jesus’ mission; the thing that He did throughout His ministry.  This is the basis on which the Gospel is built and around which it revolves.  The newly called apostles go with Jesus straight to the synagogue and are amazed, as are everyone else, at His teaching.  He did not teach as the Scribes or any of the Rabbis.  He taught with authority, as in the power He has.  He taught as though He knew from experience that what the Scriptures say is true.    The Scriptures and His teaching of them shined Light on the darkness in which the people lived.  One of the very first things His new converts saw was a demon manifest itself in the synagogue!   The power of Jesus was demonstrated when, at His Word alone, the demon was cast out of the man.

In the next six verses we see Jesus cast out devils again.  He and His men left the synagogue and went to Peter’s house, where Peter’s mother-in-law was in bed sick.  Jesus took her by the hand a lifted her up and she was completely healed.  Could this symbolize the work He was doing in the lives of the men He called and, possibly, the people of Israel (and ultimately, the world)?  It seemed disease and demons fled from Him Presence.  It was as though God, in His Glory, had returned to Israel.  Jesus is cleaning Israel and not Israel only, but the lives of individuals.  He was breaking the hold Satan had on His people.  

In the next few verses (35-39) Jesus goes out alone to pray and Peter goes looking for Him and states, “all men seek for Thee.”  Is this what Jesus was creating in the hearts of the people?  Was He creating the desire to search Him out?  Jesus’ answer was His mission statement; He must go preach because that is why He came.  …..The synagogues again!  ……Cast out devils again!  Jesus was cleaning the places of worship and instruction in God’s Word.  He was removing the hindering spirit that blinded the people’s hearts.  It seems apparent that the power and presence of the devil was well known.  It seems the people were very well acquainted with it and it seems to have been common to them; this was the presence of darkness the people were in and the helplessness the people felt.  The people saw no hope of deliverance.  The things they had read in the Old Testament about the enemies of God’s people binding and enslaving them came to be seen for what it truly represented spiritually, the binding of their souls to sin and the true enemy that was now being revealed.  Jesus

is the

revelation of God’s feelings and opinion on the matter; He will not allow it!  God will never allow the devil to destroy His people; He will never sit idly by while His people are being run rough shod by the enemy.
Remember God is in the process of “cleaning;” showing His people there is

really

a way to be clean.  To demonstrate the reality of this authority Jesus does something that only God can do.  Jesus heals a man of leprosy.  The leprous man knelt before Jesus.  The leper was willing to go to Jesus and be close to Him.  This was something he knew was illegal and would surely get him cast away from the possibility of getting near anyone else for the rest of his life.  This was a great risk taken by this man.  The leper expressed something extremely remarkable; he told Jesus if it was something He wanted to do He could make him clean.  This is one of the greatest statements of faith that could have been recorded.  This man has never known or even heard of anyone ever being healed of leprosy.  The leper said Jesus could make him “clean.”  This is word is probably the only word he knew to use.  It is a word used out of the Law he had been taught.  It is a word that represents ritualistic cleansing.  It may be all he was asking for, but most likely he really wanted Jesus to heal him.  

“Compassion.”  This is the pity felt by someone that urges and pushes them to act on that pity and help improve the plight of another.  This is exactly what God felt when He saw the enemy taking up residence in the lives of God’s people.  This miracle is an act in the physical world to display what Jesus was doing in the spiritual world.  This is a demonstration of the plight of the people and the remedy available to them.  In the book of Mark you should constantly notice physical miracles being performed by Jesus that demonstrate what He has just taught, about to teach, or the condition of the people to whom He talking at the time.

Here we see a people plagued with sin and its’ destructive power, helpless to pull themselves out.  That is the case of the leper.  He is on the outside looking in; he looks, from a distance, at what he has lost.  He sees the lost fellowship.  He sees the isolation from his family.  He sees the separation from the House of worship.  He sees the hopelessness of ever having any of it again.  He is, in all respects, cut off from his people, his family, and his life as he once knew it.  This is exactly the condition of the people to whom Jesus came; it is the condition we were all in before we met Him!  We were cut off from the Household of God, cut off from the life we were meant to have, and completely helpless to do anything about it.

Jesus answered the man’s plea with these simple words, “I will; be thou clean.”  It was a proclamation of a work done in the man’s body, and not his body only, but his soul.  The man, you just know, could feel the relief of hearing those words.  Remember Jesus spoke with power, authority!  This man had never heard these words spoken to him before.  Jesus, and all those around Him, knew the implications of what He had just said.   It was tantamount to forgiving sin!  (Leprosy represented sin and the judgment of God on the sinner.)   Of one thing we can be sure; this man felt the effects of that forgiveness!  

You need to notice, though, that the healing occurred when Jesus spoke those words; just like the demons fled when Jesus only spoke.  But don’t miss the other, very important, part of this miracle; before Jesus spoke, He touched the man.  This was possibly the first human touch from someone that was not in the same condition as he in many years.  This was part of the healing too!  It was the emotional healing the man needed.  He felt, for the first time in years, that he was no longer cut off;  God has just put His hand on him!  ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!

Jesus told him to show himself to the priest, the official act of being “reinstated” into the fellowship of the community and house of worship, but he went out and told everyone he could find what Jesus did for him.  This shows how marvelous this miracle was!  He was more concerned about Jesus, who He is, what He is doing, and what He had done for him, than getting back into his normal life.  He had to tell it!

Think about this:  the miracle was so spectacular that the man, for the first time in years, approached people without being afraid or being rejected!  This man’s life is completely restored!  He is no longer in darkness, despair, helplessness, doom, and is now separated unto God by no longer living among those of his former condition (leper colony)!  There is no one so far gone that Jesus can’t reach them.  There is no on so filthy that Jesus can’t clean them.  There is no on so rejected that Jesus can’t bring them in.  There is no one so helpless that Jesus can help them.  There is no one so unwanted that Jesus doesn’t want them.  There is no one so untouchable that Jesus can’t touch them.  The devil must let go and get out!