Mark 1 (New Living Translation)
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began 2 just as the prophet Isaiah had written:
“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way.
3 He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’”
4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. 5 All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 6 His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.
7 John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”
The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus
9 One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
(During Mark, portions of this book will be presented to help us understand our faith more deeply than perhaps we have before. I hope you enjoy learning more about Jesus as a Jewish man — and through these passages, see and appreciate more clearly the Jewish roots of our Christian faith.)
It is difficult to overestimate the love that the rabbis had for their Bible. On a good day, they would link text after text after text. They were said to be “stringing pearls”—bringing together passages from different places in order to explore their great truths.
Believe it or not, God himself seems to enjoy “stringing pearls.” Do you remember the scene in which Jesus is being baptized by his cousin John? Listen to how the Father spoke from heaven at Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:11): “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At face value this seems like a simple, though wonderful, affirmation. But it’s so much more than that. Did you catch all the references? If not, here they are:
- “You are my Son” is from Psalm 2:7: “He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’”
- “whom I love” is from Genesis 22:2: “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”
- “with you I am well pleased” is from Isaiah 42:1: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations.”
What was God saying by making use of these quotations? To answer this question, you need to know two things: the context from which each passage is drawn and the way in which the people of that time understood the passage. Both Psalm 2 and Isaiah 42 were understood as powerful messianic prophecies. In Psalm 2, God makes a royal proclamation announcing his Son, the King of kings who would rule over the whole earth.
But in Isaiah 42, God speaks about his “servant” (also understood to be the Messiah). Paradoxically, God’s Messiah is both a king and a servant. This passage from Isaiah also proclaims that God’s Spirit is upon his servant. How fitting since the Father utters these words as the Spirit descends upon Jesus in the Jordan River.
The reference “whom I love” is likely drawn from Genesis 22, one of the most poignant scenes in the Old Testament. Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac out of obedience to God. Genesis heightens the drama by emphasizing how precious Isaac is to Abraham, foreshadowing the Father’s own feelings for his only Son. When Jesus is baptized in the Jordan, the Father is saying, “Here is my precious son, my Isaac,” hinting at the sacrifice he will soon ask of Jesus.
In just three brief quotes from the Scriptures, God speaks of Jesus as a king, a servant, and his Son, who will become a sacrifice. When God speaks, he packs a lot into his words! And be sure to notice where the three passages come from: the Torah (Genesis 22), the Prophets (Isaiah 42), and the Psalms (Psalm 2). Just like the rabbis, God links together the words from the three parts of Scripture. By quoting all three, he is proclaiming that the entire Scriptures point to Jesus as their fulfillment.
12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News. 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
Some Taize for our first chapter of Mark!
“The kingdom of God is justice and peace,
and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Come, Lord, and open in us
the gates of your kingdom.”
The First Disciples
16 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 17 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 18 And they left their nets at once and followed him.
from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers
“Come ye after Me.” –Mark 1:17
One of the greatest hindrances in coming to Jesus is the excuse of temperament. We make our temperament and our natural affinities barriers to coming to Jesus. The first thing we realize when we come to Jesus is that He pays no attention whatever to our natural affinities. We have the notion that we can consecrate our gifts to God. You cannot consecrate what is not yours; there is only one thing you can consecrate to God, and that is your right to yourself (Romans 12:1).
If you will give God your right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you. God’s experiments always succeed. The one mark of a saint is the moral originality which springs from abandonment to Jesus Christ. In the life of a saint there is this amazing wellspring of original life all the time; the Spirit of God is a well of water springing up, perennially fresh. The saint realizes that it is God Who engineers circumstances, consequently there is no whine, but a reckless abandon to Jesus. Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you.
If you abandon to Jesus, and come when He says “Come,” He will continue to say “Come” through you; you will go out into life reproducing the echo of Christ’s “Come.” That is the result in every soul who has abandoned and come to Jesus.
Have I come to Jesus? Will I come now?
19 A little farther up the shore Jesus saw Zebedee’s sons, James and John, in a boat repairing their nets. 20 He called them at once, and they also followed him, leaving their father, Zebedee, in the boat with the hired men.
Jesus Casts Out an Evil Spirit
21 Jesus and his companions went to the town of Capernaum. When the Sabbath day came, he went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22 The people were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike the teachers of religious law.
23 Suddenly, a man in the synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit began shouting, 24 “Why are you interfering with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One sent from God!”
25 Jesus cut him short. “Be quiet! Come out of the man,” he ordered. 26 At that, the evil spirit screamed, threw the man into a convulsion, and then came out of him.
27 Amazement gripped the audience, and they began to discuss what had happened. “What sort of new teaching is this?” they asked excitedly. “It has such authority! Even evil spirits obey his orders!” 28 The news about Jesus spread quickly throughout the entire region of Galilee.
Matthew 28:18 (English Standard Version)
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Jesus Heals Many People
29 After Jesus left the synagogue with James and John, they went to Simon and Andrew’s home. 30 Now Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed with a high fever. They told Jesus about her right away. 31 So he went to her bedside, took her by the hand, and helped her sit up. Then the fever left her, and she prepared a meal for them.
32 That evening after sunset, many sick and demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. 33 The whole town gathered at the door to watch. 34 So Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases, and he cast out many demons. But because the demons knew who he was, he did not allow them to speak.
Jesus Preaches in Galilee
35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. 36 Later Simon and the others went out to find him. 37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
38 But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.”
John 10:10 (NIV)
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
39 So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons.
Jesus Heals a Man with Leprosy
40 A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.
41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. 43 Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: 44 “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.”
45 But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.
The leper’s cheerful disobedience caused problems for Jesus. Christ cured the leper so that such outcasts were no longer confined to secluded places, only to be forced there himself.
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.