Our study will show us that Jesus was our Servant Redeemer. This gospel account was written for a Roman (Gentile) audience. The Romans were known for being men of action and so this account focuses on what Jesus did as He walked in His ministry. This gospel is widely considered to be "Peter's gospel" as most of the facts were gained from Peter. John Mark was the nephew of Barnabas and his mother was a wealthy Christian woman in Jerusalem where a group of Christians worshiped in her home. He also accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey and that is where he got the practical interpretation of the facts provided by Peter.
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The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
There are three "beginnings" given in the Bible. This one refers to the start of Jesus' ministry. We see, immediately, that Jesus is the "Son of God" and the rest of the account will be proof of that statement as His actions and the source of the power are examined.
It is written in Isaiah the prophet: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way' - 'a voice of one calling in the desert, "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for him."'
As this was written to a Roman audience, this passage gives the only references to Old Testament prophets. Malachi and Isaiah are quoted speaking of the coming of John the Baptist as a herald of Jesus Christ. The Roman audience would have understood the concept of a herald announcing something to the masses and so they would have understood.
And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
The "desert region" that is referred to here is talking about the Negev in the southern part of Israel. There is an unfortunate wording of the translators here when they used the word "for" because we think of that as some sort of payment. That is not what this verse is saying and it was not what the prophets spoke of. John the Baptist told people of the fact that they must repent before they could be forgiven. Repentance is a changing of the mind to agree with God that our actions are wrong. That prepares the way for a person to accept the fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died in our place to pay for our sin. It is necessary for repentance to come first so that we can see a need for a Savior. The repentance does not pay for the sin but prepares the way for us to see the payment that is Jesus Christ.
The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
We see that, as John came calling them to repentance, the people responded by confessing their sins and so their need for the coming Savior. We notice that John baptized them in the Jordan River instead of sprinkling some water over their heads in a "church" building.
John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
We notice that John must have been quite the sight to see as he was more concerned with his mission than his appearance. He understood that his job was to point people to Jesus instead of massing a group of people to follow him. In this we can see the power of God as the people came not because of his looks or because of his possessions but because of his message. There are many "pastors", today, who would do well to follow this example. This is also the way Jesus was as we are told that it was not His looks that made people follow Him.
And this was his message: '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.'
John tells us that he is not worthy to be even the most menial of slaves to Christ as he refers to the lowly position of dealing with a master's feet. It is easy for us to forget that John really was a man of power and authority in that there were prophecies concerning him and he was very effective in his ministry. Even so, he did not want to elevate himself to even the lowliest position as it related to Jesus. This, my friends, is a wonderful example of humility and what is lacking in many today. Even the most gifted of men do not deserve to be even the lowliest servant to God. He allows us to serve Him not because of who we are but because of who He is. John promises the people that his water baptism will be followed by a greater baptism by the Master Himself.
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: 'You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.'
We see the humble Servant as Jesus came to be baptized by John even though He had no need to repent. We see that three things happened and are reminded that the number three is associated with the earthly display of God's will. First, heaven was torn open and this was a picture of what would happen on the day of His crucifixion when the temple curtain was ripped. We see, in this, Jesus' access to heaven and our access through Him and His obedience. The second thing was the Holy Spirit descending on Him and this was a picture of what was to come for His disciples as we see in the upper room (Acts 2). This was the power to follow Him. The final event was the very voice of God proclaiming that Jesus is His Son. This fact would soon be confirmed by His resurrection from the dead. As the acknowledged Son of God, Jesus had the Father's authority which He gave to us in what is commonly called the Great Commission. In this one event, we see that, if we trust in Jesus as the Son of God, He will give us the power and authority to live a holy life through the Spirit as well as a place with our Father for eternity.
At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Why would God send His Son out into the desert to be tempted? We see the answer in the story of Job from the Old Testament. In that, we see Satan accuse Job of having his faith only because of what God had given him. Jesus had to be tempted in order to be identified with mankind. We see, in the number forty, that He was completely tested by Satan.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!'
Just as a herald makes his announcement and then fades away, John was put into prison after his work was completed. Now, it was time for Jesus to share the good news with the world.
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him.
We see Jesus call His first disciples and His call was not hard to understand. They were used to catching fish and now they would be used to cast the net for the kingdom of God. When you cast a net, you pull in everything that passes into it and that is a picture of the fact that we are to tell everyone that we come into contact with about our Lord and savior. The call for these first disciples is the same call that each of us has in Christ.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
With the third and fourth disciples, we notice that even their love for their father did not stop them from following Jesus. In our world today, many have elevated their family to a place ahead of God and even receive admiration for doing so but that is idolatry. As we see here, not even love for family should keep us from following the Lord wherever He leads.
They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.
Now, the pattern of ministry begins with Jesus and it was the same pattern that the apostle Paul followed. When Jesus went into a town on the Sabbath, He would go to the synagogue to teach. He did this because they were God's people and the message of salvation was for them first. The people noticed that His teaching was different in that it was done with authority from God. This same authority is given to each and every one of us who are in Christ.
Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, 'What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!'
We see that the devil had his representatives in the synagogue and that is hard for many to believe but the same thing is true today in places of worship. This demon recognized Jesus for His authority based on the fact that He is the Son of God.
'Be quiet!' said Jesus sternly. 'Come out of him!' The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
We see that, once Jesus spoke, there was no debate but the demon simply obeyed. What many of us who are in Christ fail to see is that we have this same authority based on our relationship with Him. When confronted with evil, we can either flee in fear or stand with the same authority that Jesus did. Do you have a true story of how you have stood strong in a situation like this?
The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, 'What is this? A new teaching - and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him.' News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
The people in the synagogue were used to hearing the word of God but they were amazed to see it put into practice as Jesus displayed the power and authority of God. The same type of thing is happening today as many Christians are so used to hearing the Word of God but, when they see it put into action by His disciples, they are completely amazed. This serves to glory God just as it did in the region of Galilee.
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
Jesus and the disciples went to Simon's (Peter's) home where his mother-in-law was sick in bed. We see from this that the idea that ministers, priests, etc. must be unmarried is not what was practiced in the early church. Peter was married or it would not have been possible to have a mother-in-law. We also see that it was without great fanfare that Jesus healed her. He simply took her hand and the fever left. Nowadays, there are many who put on a big show of healing and even schedule healing services but that is not what Jesus did.
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Without advertisement or hype, the word spread throughout the town and those who were in need of ministry were brought to Him. We see that Jesus freely gave healing and freedom from demons to those who were in need. We also see His authority demonstrated in the fact that the demons were not even allowed to speak. We may wonder why Jesus did this and the simple answer is that God had a plan for revealing the identity of Jesus and that plan was according to God's timing. It is also a reminder to us that just knowing who Jesus is does not bring salvation (the demons knew but were definitely not saved). There are many today who believe they are saved because they know who Jesus is but the sad fact is that they have not put their trust in Him as Lord and Savior and so are in the same state as the demons that He was driving out.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: 'Everyone is looking for you!'
How important is personal prayer time? As we see here, if you are in ministry (we all are), this alone time with your Father is vital. The very Son of God needed this alone time after He had ministered to all of the sick people. This prayer time is a time to recharge as we remember that the power for ministry comes from our heavenly Father. We must stay charged because there are so many people that are looking for answers to their problems and we have the answer which is Jesus Christ.
Jesus replied, 'Let us go somewhere else - to the nearby villages - so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.' So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
What a beautiful example to believers today! When faced with the opportunity to kick back, build a fancy temple, and have the lost come to Him, Jesus said no and instead went to meet them where they were. It seems that many Christian leaders are more concerned about their next "church" building project than their work in building up the kingdom of God. We can choose to build a fancy "temple" or we can choose to go preach and heal those who are lost but we cannot truly say that we are doing both.
A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, 'If you are willing, you can make me clean.' Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. 'I am willing,' he said, 'Be clean!' Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
At this time, there was no known physical cure for these types of skin diseases and those who had them were shunned and had to live in special places. It was unthinkable that anyone would physically reach out and touch them but that is exactly what Jesus did and the man was healed.
Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 'See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.'
Why did Jesus tell the man to keep this miracle to himself and go present the offerings required by the Law? The simple fact of the matter is that Jesus came to fulfill the Law. The Law was still in effect because Jesus had not yet nailed it to the cross. Also, Jesus came for a spiritual ministry and He knew that people would focus on the physical needs instead of the more important matters of the spirit.
Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.
The man that was healed told everyone what had happened and the word spread fast. Because of this, Jesus was mobbed everywhere He went by people who needed a healing. Although this would seem to be a good thing, the people were coming for a physical healing and not realizing that there was a bigger problem (their broken relationship with God).