Monday, February 1, 2010

Mark 1 - Off and Running

by Katrina

LINK: Mark 1
parallel passages:

Matthew 3-4
Luke 3, 4, 5:1-16

INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOK OF MARK
Mark was the son of Mary, a wealthy woman of Jerusalem. He was a close friend (and possibly a convert) of Peter. He likely received most of his information for this book from Peter. Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas (Mark's cousin) on the first missionary journey, but did not complete the trip. Because he had "bailed out" on the first trip, Paul refused to take him on the second trip. But Barnabas traveled to Cyprus instead and took John Mark along with him. About twelve years later, Mark had once again joined Paul in ministry. And when Paul was in prison, he sent for him, because "he is useful to me for service."

Mark wrote this message to the Gentiles, specifically the Romans. Because he had a different audience than Matthew, you will notice several differences in his account. Mark did not spend any time on genealogies which would mean nothing to Gentiles. He was not trying to present Jesus as the promised Messiah like Matthew was. He was presenting the Son of God to his readers. Mark's audience wasn't primarily Jewish, so he includes only a few Old Testament passages. Mark's account is one full of action with not as much time spent on the teaching of Jesus. He frequently uses the word "immediately," and uses very descriptive language. He also frequently records emotions such as astonishment, laughter, "lonely places," compassion, suffering, indignation, etc. His message was that Jesus was compassionate, ministered to those who were suffering, and died for the sins of the world.

BACKGROUND
Mark begins his account with a brief summary of events that led up to Jesus' ministry -- a proclamation from Isaiah, John's baptism of repentance, Jesus' baptism by John, his temptation by Satan in the wilderness, his announcement that the "kingdom of God is at hand," and the calling of his disciples.

Then Mark jumps right into demonstrating that Jesus was the Son of God by describing a number of his miracles. These continue into chapter three. Jesus demonstrated power over demons and disease in this chapter.

REFLECTION
This chapter is action-packed. Did you notice how many times Mark said "immediately"? He really keeps things moving in his account. Tucked away in the middle of all the activities is verse 35. Did you catch it? Jesus got up early one morning, while it was still dark, and went to a lonely place to pray. Then, when the disciples found him, he went right back to preaching, traveling, healing, and casting out demons.

APPLICATION
How much more do we need to take breaks from our daily lives and ministry to spend time with the Lord in prayer. Carve out some time today and throughout this week to do just that. Maybe you'll need to get up early in the morning before the rest of your household rises. Maybe there's another time of day when you can come away from the busyness of the day and pray. Find a "lonely place" and meet God there.

PRAYER
Lord, may we learn to "come away" and meet you in prayer regularly and frequently. Thank you for making yourself accessible to us and for communicating with us. May we not take it for granted. Amen.
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