|Mark 1 - Versions|
|SERMONS, ESSAYS AND OPINIONS||
The first chapter of the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament introduces Jesus with the story of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus. It also tells the story of Jesus calling his disciples to follow him and mentions some of his early miracles. The opening sentence of the Mark states the key concepts that the book tells of the Good News of Jesus, who was the Son of God.
Mark introduces verses 2 and 3 with "It is written in Isaiah the prophet:", however his quote does not exactly match any extant Book of Isaiah. The quote appears to be a composite from the books of Exodus, Malachi and Isaiah (Exodus 23:20, Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3) linking the good news of Jesus with a fulfillment of the Old Testament. Mark assumes these refer to John the Baptist.
Mark then describes John's activities, preaching repentanc] and forgiveness of [[sin]s and baptising in the Jordan river. He says he wore camel hair, a leather belt, and survived off locusts and wild honey. His clothes resemble Elijah's described in 2 Kings 1:8. There is also the prophecy of true prophet's clothing in the Zechariah 13:4. His diet may have been his attempt at purity. There has been speculation that John was an Essene but there is no hard evidence of this. The gospel of Luke reveals Jesus and John were relatives (Luke 1:36) and John is described as being a Nazarite from birth (Luke 1:15). All portraits of him paint him as certainly an ascetic, but also as a popular and respected preacher.
This portrait of John is similar to the one that Josephus gave us. Josephus also stated that John baptized.
Many people come to be baptised by John. He tells them
- "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Untying someone's sandals was a task commonly done by someone's slave. What baptising with the Holy Spirit refers too is not further explained in the Gospel of Mark.
Jesus is one of the many who come to be baptised by John. John 1:31 shows that the baptism was a method of revealing Jesus to Israel. Some also suggest that Jesus was baptized to embrace the doctrine of baptism and repentance of sins. The Epistle to the Hebrews, in Hebrews 4:15, says Jesus was "just as we are—yet was without sin."
Mark introduces Jesus without a history or a description, suggesting the intended reader already has heard of him. Mark, like all the Gospels, gives no physical description of Jesus, unlike the short previous description of John.
John baptizes him and Jesus then sees "Heaven being torn open and the spirit descending on him like a dove" (Mark 1:10) with God telling him that he is his son whom he loves and is pleased with. This could be related to Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1. The opening of the heavens is often seen as the union and beginning of communication between God and the world. Whether anyone else besides Jesus saw this has been often debated. Luke 3:22 says the Spirit descended in "bodily" form. John 1:32-34 says John said he saw the Spirit descend onto Jesus.
The voice from heaven calls Jesus "beloved".
The spirit then "At once" (Kai euthys) sends him out into the desert to be tempted by Satan for forty days. Forty is a common numerological device in the Bible, such as the forty days of the flood in Genesis 7 and the forty years of the Israelites wandering in the desert in Exodus. Elijah also spent forty days and nights travelling to Mount Horeb in 1 Kings 19:8. Unlike Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13 the number of temptations or what they were are not described. Mark does say that Angels came to minister to him.
John is put into prison. Mark uses the term "paradothēnai" to describe John being turned over, which Mark also uses to describe Jesus being arrested during his Passion. Mark has already highlighted two themes, Jesus' power from and favor of God, contrasted with his confrontation with Satan and John being arrested, showing his power and mission have already encountered the most extreme challenges both from the authorities of this world and supernatural powers.
Calling of four of the disciples
Jesus then goes to Galilee, preaching "The kingdom of God is near (ēngiken). Repent and believe the good news (euangelion)!" The kingdom of God can be seen as a physical or spiritual place. It could also be translated as "God's imperial rule", indicating the power of God over all things. The good news is seen as not just God's message but his actions. These are then linked with repentance, a change of heart, and then belief. Belief and repentance are thus what Jesus says God desires.
- "Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men."
They follow him and then soon come upon James and John (whom he will name the Thunder Brothers in 3:17), who also quickly join the group. Peter, James, and John will play a prominent part in several incidents in the Gospel. Mark does not relate that Jesus convinced them to follow him in any way. Mark simply has them follow him without question.
Jesus and the four go to Capernaum, which Mark has as Jesus's center of activity and Jesus teaches in the synagogue on the sabbath. Eventually, in 9:5, at the Transfiguration of Jesus, Mark uses the technical term Rabbi, meaning a Jewish teacher of Mosaic Law. Anyone who showed a sufficient knowledge of the scriptures could preach in the synagogue. Mark says the people thought Jesus taught with "authority", which the scribes did not.
He then performs an exorcism on a demon possessed man. Curing people, especially possessed people, will be another major method Jesus uses in his mission in Mark. The demon recognizes Jesus as "the Holy one of God". Jesus simply says "Be quiet, and come out of him!", healing the man with words alone. The people are amazed. This follows a path Mark often uses, that of a description of the affliction, Jesus' cure of the affliction, and then a demonstration of the cure to others. The power of Jesus' word over the demon might be Mark's way of trying to show to his audience, perhaps under the threat of persecution, that Jesus' message will overcome evil. Some have suggested that by showing Jesus' teaching first before his exorcism Mark might be placing emphasis on Jesus' teachings as more important that any miracle he could perform.
They go to Peter and Andrew's house and Jesus cures Peter's sick mother-in-law. The house was presumably near the synogogue. She then gets up and helps Jesus and his companions. Attending to her guests would have been her social duty in the Jewish culture. Mark uses the term ēgeiren (to lift up) to describe Jesus' cure of her, followed by diēkonei (she served) which some have seen as a theological message about Jesus' power requiring service.
Peter is clearly listed here as having a wife, as Jesus healed his mother-in-law. Paul says that other Apostles, Cephas (Peter), and Jesus' brothers have wives, but not him, in 1 Corinthians 9:5.
He then leaves town in the next morning for solitary prayer.
He cures a leper who comes to him asking for a cure and tells him to show the priests and offer the cleaning sacrifices Moses had commanded (Leviticus 13-14), but not to tell people that Jesus had done it. Jesus here seems to stress the importance of the Mosaic law.