Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mark 1 - The Preparation of Jesus Christ

LINK: Mark 1

BACKGROUND OF THE BOOK OF MARK

As a reminder, all of the gospels are the story of the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, but they each emphasize different things. Here is an overview adapted from The Life Application Bible, p. 1937:



Matthew
Mark
Luke
John
Jesus is . . .
Promised King
Servant of God
Son of Man
Son of God
Targeted readers were . . .
Jews
Gentiles, Romans
Greeks
The World
Themes
Jesus is the Messiah because He fulfilled Old Testament prophecy
Jesus backed up His words with action
Jesus was God but also fully human
Belief in Jesus is required for salvation
“I AM”
The writer was a . . .
Teacher
Storyteller
Historian
Close disciple of Jesus and theologian
Greatest emphasis is on . . .
Jesus’ sermons and words
Jesus’ miracles and actions
Jesus’ humanity
The principles behind Jesus’ teaching and relationship


The gospel "according to Mark" was added later by a scribe around A.D. 125. So, it is technically written by anonymous, but there is much evidence that points to Mark as the author. He was not an eyewitness, but he was a close associate to an eyewitness, Peter. He wrote down what Peter said but not always in chronological order (Eusebius Ecclesiastical History 3. 39. 15). It is almost certain he is the John Mark mentioned in Acts 12:12, 25; 13:5, 13; 15:37, 39; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24; and 1 Peter 5:13. He was a Jewish believer who lived in Jerusalem with his mother, Mary, in the early days of the church where their home was a meeting place (Acts 12:12).

This gospel was written in Rome primarily for Roman Gentile believers. That is why there is no genealogy and only a few Old Testament references.  He includes no genealogy. It is quick and fast paced, highlighting Jesus' power and authority through works rather than his words. He is seen as the servant who came to seek and to save those who were lost (Mark 10:45). You will notice the key word "immediately" repeated 39 times in the New American Standard translation. Thus illustrating the action of the gospel.  Mark is the shortest of the four gospels with only 678 verses and is the most chronological of the four accounts. I love to study Mark with non-believers!



"Kingdom/Kingdom of God/Kingdom of Heaven” is a key word/phrase in the Matthew, Mark, and Luke accounts of the Gospel. By the way, "Kingdom of Heaven” is used exclusively in Matthew, but means the same thing as "Kingdom of God."

Ask yourself inductive questions as you encounter this in your reading. 

What is the Kingdom of God? 
Who is in the Kingdom of God?
When did/will the Kingdom of God come? Is it now, in the future, or both? 
Where is the Kingdom of God?
How does one enter the Kingdom of God?
What does the Kingdom of God mean to us personally? 

 Here is my husband's definition:

"The Kingdom of God is the sphere or realm of God's influence.
Theoretically it is everywhere, but God chooses to limit Himself because He wants us to choose to be 'in' it."


Let's really concentrate on what life in the Kingdom really means in our everyday life! Let's allow Him to bear fruit through us!

BACKGROUND 


The number at the beginning of each section is the number for a chronological order of events in the life of Jesus. Here is a list of all the events online:


Each event has a background that gathers information from the other gospel accounts where they are mentioned with hyper-links to the references.

16. John the Baptist prepares the way for Jesus: Matthew 3:1-12, Mark 1:1-8, Luke 3:1-18 

Mark skips everything about the background, birth, and childhood of both Jesus and John and goes "immediately" (remember it is key word in this book) to the beginning of Jesus' ministry that was ushered in by John! 


It is the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, A.D. 29. Tiberius ruled over the Roman Empire from A.D. 14 to A.D. 37 and Pilate was the governor of Judea from A.D. 26 to A.D. 36. The reigning Jew over Galilee and Tiberius is Herod Antipas whom we introduced in Matthew 2. His brother, Philip, ruled east of the Jordan from 4 B.C. to A.D. 34. Annas was the high priest from A.D. 6 to A.D. 15. Caiaphas was his son-in-law and the Romans would replace him as high priest from A.D. 18 to A.D. 36 even though the Jews continued to recognize Annas.

John has been growing, becoming strong in spirit and living in the desert until his public appearance in Israel (Luke 1:80). This is that public appearance. As a descendant from the priestly line of Aaron, John could have been a priest, but God had for him to be His messenger (Malachi 3:1) preaching a very special message in the Judean desert and the country around the Jordan River. His message was direct and to the point:

"Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
Matthew 3:2

We know from our reading of the Old Testament that the concept of a coming kingdom with a reigning king is huge. The idea of repentance prior to entrance into that kingdom was the new concept for the Jews. They thought that entrance was automatic for them. John said that they needed to "repent." This Greek word metanoéō comes from the base word noéō which means to "perceive, think, know." Repent means to change your opinion, feelings, or purpose from what you thought you always knew! If what you thought you always knew was wrong the word takes on the sense "to regret" (The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Kittel). They thought they knew the way into heaven, but John had come to tell them about the real way, and it came via a man who would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.

John the Baptist exhorted his audience to bear fruit in keeping with righteousness. Just being baptized and being Abraham's descendants would not give them an "in" with God!  The Luke account goes into more detail about what would give evidence of genuine repentance: generosity, honesty, and contentment. All three are tied to money and material possessions.  It is interesting to note that the Luke account is the only one that proclaims that "all mankind" (not just the Jews) will see God's salvation (Luke 3:6). This is probably because Luke's audience was non-Jewish. 


17. The baptism of Jesus: Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-22

File:Baptism-of-Christ-xx-Francesco-Alban.JPG
Francesco Albani [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
After the announcement by John the Baptist, Jesus reappears after an 18 years absence from the narrative (Luke 3:23). Jesus came to "fulfill all righteousness" (Matthew 3:15) by being baptized; but the Law did not require baptism. What did He mean by this statement? Jesus did not need baptism for repentance, but he needed to identify with sinners.

Only Luke's account (Luke 3:21) states that Jesus was praying at His baptism (one could argue that He was always praying because He was always in connection with the Father). God broke into the course of HIS-story when the heavens were opened with the revelation of His Son! Doesn't it sound like Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1?  WOW!

The Holy Spirit descending like a dove marks a time when all three members of the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are mentioned. 

Temptations of Christ (San Marco)
By anonimus [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Temptation of Christ (mosaic in basilica di San Marco)
18. Satan tempts Jesus in the Wilderness: Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13

After His baptism, Jesus was led immediately by the Spirit for a time of testing by Satan in the wilderness which has been traditionally believed to be near Jericho. 

This might be obvious for those of you who have been through the Old Testament portion of the Bible Book Club, but I wanted to point out the "40 days" motif of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. Examples of this motif are seen in Genesis 7:4; Exodus 24:18; 1 Kings 19:8; and Jonah 3:4. Jesus' temptation of 40 days parallels Israel's wanderings and temptation in the wilderness for 40 years. Note He quotes from Deuteronomy which took place during Israel's wilderness wanderings. 

Also, note that Adam and Eve met Satan in a beautiful garden where all their needs were met, and they lost, allowing sin and death to enter into the world.  Jesus met Satan in a barren wilderness where he had nothing to eat for 40 days, and He won, ushering in eternal life for all who would believe (Colossians 2:15; Romans 5:12, 18)!  YAY!

To be tempted comes from the Greek word, peirazein, which in the positive sense means to "try or make proof of." Satan is described here as "the tempter" (Matthew 4:3), and brings out the bad sense of this Greek word, "to entice, solicit, or provoke to sin." This temptation had a dual purpose. The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to have His faith tried, while Satan wanted to entice Him to disobey the Father. As our reading goes on, we will learn more about the ways of Satan.

The temptation closely resembles the temptation of Eve:
1) Appeal to the physical appetite 
Satan tempted Eve with the one thing she could not have, even though she had plenty of food from the garden (Genesis 3:1). 
Satan tempted Jesus to make stones into bread while Jesus was hungry (Matthew and Luke 4:3).   
Jesus resisted with Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:3 - God's Word is food for life!
2) Appeal to physical safety 
Satan tempted Eve by saying she would not die if she ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:4). 
Satan tempted Jesus by telling Him, if He was the Son of God and Messiah, nothing could harm Him if He threw Himself from the highest part of the temple (Matthew 4:6 and Luke 4:9).  Satan used the prophecy from Malachi 3:1. It was a common belief that the Messiah would come from the sky into the temple. He was tempting Jesus to display Himself in the way people expected. 
This misquoting of Scripture by Satan caused Jesus to counter with more Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:16 - don't test God!  God would display His Son in His way.
3) Appeal to an easy way to power and glory 
Satan tempted Eve by saying she would be "like God, knowing good and evil" and this was why God was withholding this good fruit from her (Genesis 3:5). 
Satan wanted to give Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world (Matthew 4:9; Luke 4:6, 7) that God had allowed Him to rule (2 Corinthian 4:4, John 12:31; Ephesians 2:2). God had another way for Jesus to become King and that was via the cross. 
Again, Jesus responded with Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:13 and 10:20 - God alone deserves to be worshiped and served.
The score is: Satan 0, Jesus 1.  Stay tuned. The battle has just begun.

30. Jesus preaches in Galilee:

30a. Arrival in Galilee: John 4:43-45

30b. Nature of the Galilean Ministry: Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:14-15, Luke 4:14-15
Yet not in Jerusalem and Judah will the light first dawn, but in the northernmost part of the land of Israel, a region which lay in darkness and death at the time Jesus came to fulfill the ancient prophecy, and which even John the Baptist had not been able to reach by his call to repentance. 
(The Gospel According to St. Matthew - An Introduction and Commentary by R.V.G. Tasker, page 56)
This part of the gospels is often called the "Great Galilean Ministry." The major cities included Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, Nain, Cana, and Nazareth. Galilee is 60 miles long by 25 miles wide. It is mountainous with fertile valleys and an average temperature of 70 degrees. It was the most beautiful, productive and populous district of Palestine with grain and olive groves. Flora and wildlife still thrive there.  There was a mixture of races from Jew and Gentile backgrounds. 
Galilee of the Gentiles was a choice cradle for the universal Gospel. Jesus liked to mingle in the crowd. He loved human beings and here He found a dense population made up of heterogeneous elements of all types and nationalities.
(The Christ of the Gospels, p. 115)
One interesting thing: not one prophet had ever come out of Galilee.  

10 Mark’s Gospel C. Jesus goes public image 2 of 2. Simon Peter and Andrew with Christ. Mortier
By Phillip Vere [FAL], via Wikimedia Commons
33. Four Fisherman Follow Jesus: Matthew 4:18-22, Mark 1:16-20

Tradition says that, John the son of Zebedee, was one of the two unnamed disciples at Bethany in the account of John 1:35-51, three of the four fisherman in this present account had already temporarily followed Jesus for a time, but they returned to their jobs as fisherman. This is the permanent call. Jesus said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." They immediately followed Him.

34. Jesus teaches with great authority: Mark 1:21-28, Luke 4:31-37 

Capernaum is now to become Jesus' base of operation since Nazareth had rejected Him. It was also the home of Peter and Andrew (Luke 4:38). The fact that He taught with authority and that an unclean spirit identified Him as the Holy One of God is more proof of the deity of Jesus! He also did this on the Sabbath. Stay tuned for fireworks with the religious authorities over the issue of the Sabbath. 

Remember that Mark and Luke are writing for Gentiles. They both specify that it is an evil/unclean spirit. We know that Greeks (whom Luke was writing for) believed in both good and evil ones. 

35. Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law and many others: Matthew 8:14-17, Mark 1:29-34, Luke 4:38-41

The Matthew account points out that these healings were a fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 53:4 because he is writing for a Jewish audience. 

Both Mark and Luke indicate the miracle of Peter's mother-in-law occurred right after Jesus teaching with authority and rebuking the unclean spirit. News was spreading and at the end of the Sabbath day, when healing was permissible, people were bringing the sick to Him, and demons knew who Jesus was even if the people did not yet. 

36. Jesus preaches throughout Galilee:  Mark 1:35-39, Luke 4:42-44, Matthew 4:23-25

By this time, Jesus had a busy ministry schedule, yet He rose in the early morning to pray after His busy day and before another busy day of ministry.


While He performed healing to authenticate Himself Jesus' primary mission was to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. He was the "anointed one" who would proclaim the favorable year of the LORD (Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1-2).

By History2007 at en.wikipedia. 
Later version(s) were uploaded
 by Aavindraa at en.wikipedia.
[Public domain or Public domain],
from Wikimedia Commons
38. Jesus heals a man with leprosy: Matthew 8:1-4, Mark 1:40-45, Luke 5:12-16

Jesus demonstrated His power over disease, demonic forces, and men. He healed the man with leprosy. There had been no record of any Israelite being healed from leprosy other than Miriam (Numbers 12:10-15). Jesus instructed the man to go to the priest as a testimony. The priests were men of influence, and it was important for the man to go to a priest first (even though the Mark account records that he did not do so) so that he could be examined and the miracle eventually be known via influential channels.

APPLICATION 

Ask God what His "I will" is for this passage today. Who are you going to tell about it? Who will hold you accountable for application?

PRAYER

Jesus, thank You for coming to earth to live so that we might know how to live with purpose and destiny. Amen. 

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