Mark 1:14-28

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds – January 19, 2012)

 

The Authority of Jesus (1:14-28)

Jesus was a person of authority.  As matter of fact, in terms of both knowledge and power, He was the most authoritative person who has ever lived in this world.  He told His disciples in Matthew 28:18, "All authority has been given to me..."    In our journey through Mark's Gospel, have come to section which has much to teach us about the authority of Christ.  I want to begin by directing your attention to Mark 1:22 - "And they were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."  That statement, which is repeated in similar form in the other gospels, is sort of thesis sentence for Mark 1:14-28.  And this section, Mark reveals three ways Jesus demonstrated His authority.

1:14-15 - Jesus demonstrated authority in His preaching

1:16-20 - Jesus demonstrated authority in His relationships

1:23-28 - Jesus demonstrated authority in His actions

 

1.      Jesus’ authority demonstrated in His preaching (1:14-15)

VERSE 14 – Mark begins this section with a passing reference to the arrest of John the Baptist.  He was arrested by Herod Antipas, one of the sons of Herod the Great, for denouncing the immorality of Herod Antipas.  John was ultimately put to death.  Mark mentions the arrest of John the Baptist for two reasons.  First, it serves as dateline for beginning of Jesus' public preaching/teaching ministry in Galilee.  Second, it closely links preaching of John Baptist with preaching of Jesus.  John came preaching that people should prepare for the coming of God's kingdom.  Jesus came proclaiming "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand..."

“…came into Galilee…” – Galilee is in northern Palestine.  That was a natural place for Jesus to begin His public ministry of preaching and teaching because that was His home area.  Ministry in the predominantly Gentile northern Palestine was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isa. 9. No one expected anything spiritually significant to begin in this region, far removed from the Temple (cf. John 1:46) and the first to be defeated and exiled by the Mesopotamian powers (i.e. Assyria and neo-Babylon).[1]

VERSE 15 - I find it amazing that Mark could summarize the preaching of Jesus in a single sentence.  Jesus didn't preach with shotgun; He preached with rifle.  His words weren't scattered and misdirect, but they were focused on two-fold purpose--declaring the good news of the coming of the kingdom of God and declaring our appropriate response to that good news.

“The time is fulfilled…” - “Time” is kairos (καιρος), referring to a particular time marked by an epochal event, not chronos (χρονος), time as such. The older order was giving place to a new one, the dispensation of law to the announcement of the good news of God as later defined, the Kingdom of Heaven…[2]

…the kingdom of God…” - The heart of Jesus' preaching had to do with the kingdom of God.  In the New Testament there are more than 100 references in Jesus' preaching/teaching to the word "kingdom" or the phrases "kingdom of God" or "kingdom of heaven" Obviously there is no way understand preaching of Jesus without understanding what He meant by "kingdom."  To most Jewish people of first century "kingdom of God" meant a political or military kingdom.  They were looking for a Messiah to come who would rally the Jewish people, throw Romans out of their homeland and re-establish Israel's independence and power.  But that's not at all how Jesus used that phrase.  In Jesus teachings, the "kingdom of God" is a spiritual kingdom.  It refers to the reign/rule of God in hearts of people.  Jesus did not come to establish a temporary earthly kingdom; He came to establish an eternal spiritual kingdom in people's lives.

 

[APPLICATION:  This tells us something very fundamental about the nature of the Christian life.  Just as the kingdom of God is inward and spiritual, so the Christian life is much more an inward relationship than outward actions.  I do not say that to minimize the importance of Christian serving and of appropriate outward behavior.  But I do mean to say that the essence of being Christian is not what you do, it is what God is doing in you!  It is possible to fool people into thinking we are a genuine Christian by doing certain outward things.  For example, we can--

·         Use the code words of Christianity such as "born again" or "fellowship" or "brother"...

·         Adhere to the positions many Christians have in relation to the major social issues of our day such as abortion, drug abuse, gay marriage, etc.

·         Point to the Christian heritage of our family...

·         List all the good things we do in service to and caring for others…

But apart from a genuine inward experience with Jesus, those things mean nothing in terms of salvation.  The ancient Jewish people often prayed, "May God establish his kingdom in our lifetime."  But the preaching of Jesus is a reminder that not only has God established His kingdom in our life-times.  He has established His kingdom in our lives!]

 

“…repent…” - (metanoeō; cf. Mark 1:4) is to turn away from an existing object of trust (e.g., oneself)[3]

“…believe…” - (pisteuō, here pisteuete en, the only NT appearance of this combination) is to commit oneself wholeheartedly to an object of faith[4]  This word is can also be translated “believe,” “faith,” or “trust.”[5]

“…in the gospel…” - This use of the term “gospel” must be qualified. At first Jesus’ message was similar to John’s. The full gospel of Jesus will not be complete until after His life, death, burial, resurrection and ascension. Verse 15 gives the content of Jesus’ early preaching. [6]

 

[APPLICATION:  Not only did Jesus announce the kingdom of God, He proclaimed what we must do to participate in the kingdom.  At first reading it would appear that Jesus was saying one must do two things--repent and believe.  But in reality, those are not two separate acts.  They are more like two sides to the same coin.  You can't really have one without the other.  In the biblical sense there is no repentance apart from belief and no belief apart from repentance.  By putting the words repent and believe together, Jesus is making a very important point.  The point is that while belief is all that is necessary for person to become a Christian, it must be the kind of belief that changes your life.  As we have previously seen, repent means to turn or to change.  If we claim to be believers in Jesus Christ but you have not allowed Jesus to change and to continue to change our lives, we would do well to consider whether or not we have really believe.  Genuine belief always results in change.  As one writer put it, "If [Jesus] walked the streets of our town, he would call us to belief, but he would also call us to cease our adulteries, repent from our materialism, renounce our gossip and our jealousies, [and] repent from our lying." (Hughes,36)]

 

2.       The authority of Jesus demonstrated in His relationships (1:16-20) - Peter, Andrew, James, and John had met Jesus and trusted Him some months before (John 1:35–49), but this was their call to full-time ministry as disciples. Zebedee must have had a profitable business if he could afford hired workers, so the departure of his sons did not impoverish him. At least seven of our Lord’s disciples were professional fishermen (John 21:1–2). Fishermen have courage and tenacity, and are willing to work hard; and they know how to work together. These are good qualities for “fishers of men.”[7]

VERSE 16

“…Sea of Galilee…” - a warm-water lake about 7 miles wide and 13 miles long, about 685 feet below sea level, was the scene of a thriving fishing industry. It was geographically central to Jesus’ Galilean ministry.[8]

VERSE 17

“…follow Me…” - There are two important things about that statement.  First, it is not so much an invitation as a command.  The verb is imperative.  With the voice of authority He is summoning these men into His inner circle.  Second, the statement implies a once and for all complete commitment.  In the eastern culture of first century people didn't generally walk side by side.  They walked in single file.  To "follow Jesus" really meant to "walk with Him, to go where He was going, to leave the familiar and head off into the unknown."

 

[APPLICATION:  In our culture we have watered down what it means to "follow Jesus."  When someone in our day says "I am a follower of Jesus" generally they mean something like this:  “I believe Jesus existed, I believe what He said was true, I have trusted Him for my salvation, and attempt to live in His will.”   While all that is good as far as it goes, to "follow Jesus" meant much more than that to these first disciples.  As verses 18 and 20 indicate, following Jesus to the first disciples meant leaving behind their previous lives and embarking on a journey into unchartered territory.]

 

“…I will make you…” – To me this is most exciting and comforting part of this entire statement.  There are a number of wonderful implications in this phrase. First, it implies Jesus' presence with us.  It is said of Buddha that he told his followers, "There is the way, follow it."  In contrast, Jesus says to us, "I am the way, follow me."  Also, that statement implies Jesus' power in our lives.  Just before leaving this world told disciples, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses..."  What Jesus calls His followers to do He empowers them to do.

“…fishers of men…” - Jesus was not the first to use the phrase "fishers of men."  It was used in OT (Jer.16:16) and was a common description of philosophers in first century world who capture people's minds through teaching and persuasion.  As Warren Wiersbe points out, "They would 'bait the hook' with their teaching and 'catch' disciples." Of course, the fact that as many of seven of the original 12 disciples were fishermen by occupation gave this analogy special meaning very early in Christianity.

From this account of Jesus’ calling His first disciples, His authority in relationships with others is demonstrated as He makes a bold appeal (“Follow me…”), issues a bold promise (“…I will make you…”), and calls them to a bold task (“…fishers of men…”).

 

[APPLICATION:  Jesus has made it perfectly clear what He wants His followers to do.  We are to be "fishers of men."  That means capturing the hearts and minds of people with the gospel.  And if we are not doing that, we are not carrying out our essential assignment.]

 

3.      The authority of Jesus demonstrated in His actions (1:21-28)

VERSE 21

“Capernaum” – Literally, “the village of Nahum.”  Jesus made Capernaum His “headquarters” (2:1; 9:33) and went out from there to various parts of the country to minister. He often taught in the local synagogues, and on this particular Sabbath He delivered a man from the power of a demon. [9]

VERSE 22

“were amazed” - (exeplēssonto, lit., “astounded, struck out of their senses, overwhelmed”; also in 6:2; 7:37; 10:26; 11:18) at the manner and the content (cf. 1:14-15) of Jesus’ teaching. [10]

“not as the scribes” - The rabbis quoted from other rabbis and felt themselves to be expounders of tradition. The Messiah struck a new note here, and the people were quick to recognize it. They saw that here was a Teacher who spoke on His own authority. [11]

A VERSE 23-26

“and just then there was a man in their synagogue” - The word euthus (εὐθυς), “immediately,” not handled by the a.v., tells us that no sooner had the Messiah finished His teaching, than the demonized man arose and started to talk. “Their” refers back to the people who were so completely amazed that they well nigh lost their self-possession. These owned the synagogue. It also implies that the demonized man was not of their company.[12]

“he cried out” - anakrazō (ἀνακραζω), “to raise a cry from the depth of the throat, to cry out.” The demon cried out, using the man’s vocal organs. It was a deep, throaty, terrible cry. It had in it the fear of impending doom. It was from a member of one race of beings, speaking through and by means of a member of the human race.[13]

“they were all amazed” – A different word than the one translated “amazed” in verse 22.  The word is thambeō (θαμβεω) “to be astonished, amazed, to be terrified, to be frightened.” Their amazement was mingled with fright and terror. [14]

 

The theme of Jesus casting evil spirits or demons out of people is a major part of Mark's Gospel.  In journey through this book will encounter numerous instances where such a thing occurs.  In trying to understand what Scripture says about demons or evil spirits, I think there are two extremes to avoid.

        i.            We need avoid extreme of viewing the concept of demons simply as the inventions of ancient people who did not have much understanding of either physical or emotional diseases.  Taking such an approach is to fail to take seriously what is taught throughout Scripture about the on-going conflict between forces of God and forces of Satan.  The Bible teaches that there is great spiritual battle going on and the battle ground is hearts and lives of people. 

      ii.            On the other hand, we need to avoid the extreme of attributing anything we don't understand to demon possession.  That is what ancient people tended to do.  They saw demons behind almost everything.  As one writer put it, to their way of thinking "The whole world and ... atmosphere were filled with devils... every phase and form of life was ruled by them.  They sat on thrones, they hovered around cradles.  The earth was literally a hell."  Much of the art from the medieval period reflects this world view.

Somewhere between those two extremes is the more appropriate view.  While we should recognize the existence of evil forces in our world, we need avoid attributing everything we do not understand or agree with to those evil forces.

 

[APPLICATION:  I see two obvious points of application from this event.  The first is that it is possible to be close to salvation and miss it.  This man was in the synagogue.  More than likely that wasn’t his first time to be there.  He was exposed to the truth but apparently was oblivious to it.  Second, this event is a graphic reminder that no-one is outside the scope of God’s love.]



[1] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (19). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[2] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament: For the English reader (Mk 1:14). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[3] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary: An exposition of the scriptures (Mk 1:15). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[4] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Mk 1:15). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (20). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[6] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (19). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[7] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Wiersbe's expository outlines on the New Testament (106). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[8] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Mk 1:16). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[9] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Wiersbe's expository outlines on the New Testament (106). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.

[10] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Mk 1:21–22). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[11] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Mk 1:22). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[12] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Mk 1:23). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[13] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Mk 1:23). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

[14] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest's word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader (Mk 1:27). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

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