Mark 1:29-45

(A Bible Study Led by Dr. Larry Reynolds – January 26, 2012)


A Picture of Jesus (1.29-39)

One of the amazing things about Jesus is that He accomplished so much but never seemed to be in a hurry.  In this passage we get a glimpse into an 18 hour period in Jesus’ life during which He did some incredible things.  Mark 1:29-39 tells us what Jesus did from noon on the Sabbath Day when He cast the unclean spirit out of the man in the synagogue at Capernaum until about 6:00 a.m. the next morning.  During this time frame, we see Jesus in two locations.



Immediately (euthys; cf. v. 10) after leaving the synagogue Sabbath service, Jesus and the four disciples went to the nearby home of Simon (Peter) and Andrew. This house became something of a headquarters for Jesus when He was in Capernaum (cf. 2:1; 3:20; 9:33; 10:10).[1]

The visit of Jesus to the home of Simon (Peter) and Andrew in Capernaum is interesting for number of reasons.

1.      It gives us glimpse into culture of first century world, which in some ways was like our culture.  It was customary to have main Sabbath meal immediately after the synagogue service.  Normally that meal would be at the 6th hour or 12 noon. 

2.      Another interesting thing about this account of Jesus' visit to Peter and Andrew's home is how many intimate details are provided by Mark about the visit.  Obviously this detailed account reflects the testimony of an eye witness to these events.  Since Mark, himself, wasn't present, these details give credence to the theory I mention at the outset of our study of Mark that Mark's Gospel is in reality the Gospel According to Peter as told to Mark. 

3.      But the most interesting thing about this event is not what tells us about 1st century culture or the authorship of the Gospel of Mark.  The most interesting thing is what it says to us about the compassion of Jesus.

·         Jesus compassion moved Him to put the needs of others before His own needs.  Remember, even though Jesus was God incarnate, He was also a flesh and blood person.  He experienced the same kinds of things physically and even emotionally that we experience.  He became hungry, thirsty, tired, and felt pain.  By the time reached home of Peter and Andrew that day was probably physically and emotionally exhausted.  He had spent the morning teaching in the synagogue and having an emotional encounter with the man possessed by an unclean spirit.  I suspect he was probably very tired and desired nothing more than a little solitude and time to rest.  But that did not stop Him that didn't stop Him from acting in compassionate way when confronted with need of Peter's mother-in-law and the crowd that came to Peter’s house.   He placed the needs of others before His own needs.  Of course, as with any good thing, it is possible to take this to an extreme and fail to care for ourselves to the point that we become useless to others.  Jesus did not do that.  As we shall see in a moment, He knew when to withdraw from the multitudes for prayer and meditation.  However, He did not live by the worldly philosophy of “It’s all about me!”  My observation is that those who live that way end up miserable, resentful, bitter, unpleasant people.

·         Jesus was as compassionate in private as He was in public.  There was no duplicity in the expression of Jesus' compassion.  He didn't behave one way toward the man in the synagogue and the crowd lined up outside Peter’s house when all the people were looking and then another way toward Peter's mother-in-law when there was no crowd looking on. He was equally compassionate in both situations.


      Much harm has been caused to cause of Christ by Christians who act one way for people to see but another way in private.  I remember reading an intriguing story about young Jewish boy grew up in Germany.  He had profound sense of admiration for his father who saw to it family life revolved around religious practices of Judaism.  The father faithfully led family to synagogue each week.  When the young boy was a teenager, the family moved to another town in Germany.  This town had no synagogue and community life revolved around the Lutheran Church.  The father suddenly announced to family they were all going abandon their Jewish traditions and become Lutherans.  The family was stunned by the announcement and when asked why father said, "Because to do so will be good for my business."  The boy became disillusioned and angry and eventually bitter about his father's hypocrisy.  Eventually he left Germany, went to England, and began composing book about his ideas that arose from his disappointment with his father.  In the book he proposed that people would be better of living without God and called religion the "opiate of the masses."  The young man was Karl Marx.  And his ideas, which had their seed in the inconsistency of his father, did immeasurable harm to our world.


            Jesus wasn't that way.  The compassion He displayed in His public ministry carried over into His private life.

·         Jesus expressed compassion with tenderness.  That may sound redundant but it is not.  Sometimes we can act compassionately or do the compassionate thing but with a spirit or attitude that says, “I know this is the right thing for me to do but I really feel put out by this and even though I’m going to do the right thing, I really don’t want to!”  Jesus was not at like that.  There was a genuine tenderness about His compassion. 

o   The story of Jesus healing Peter’s mother-in-law is found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Each gives little pieces of information about what happened...Matthew says Jesus touched her...Luke says He stood over her and rebuked the fever...and Mark tells us in v.31 that "He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand..."...putting all those together have composite picture of Jesus going to her bedside, taking her by the hand, rebuking the fever, and gently raising her up...Jesus could have healed her in any way He desired...could have just spoken a word and she would have been well...but He chose the tender method of a compassionate touch...

o   And, no doubt, the multitude that gathered at the door Peter’s house did so, not because they understood who Jesus was, but simply because they wanted something from Him.  Mark makes it clear in verse 32 that they were bound by Jewish legalism.  The double time reference, when evening had come, after the sun had set, made it clear that the people of Capernaum waited until the Sabbath Day was over (sunset) before moving the sick lest they break the Law (cf. Ex. 20:10) or Rabbinic regulations which prohibited burden-bearing on that day (cf. Mark 3:1-5).[2]  But instead of rebuking them for their lack of understanding, Jesus patiently met their needs.

            This paragraph ends with an interesting statement.  Mark writes, “…He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.”  This verse is the first of many in Mark (cf. 1:34, 43–44; 3:12; 4:11; 5:43; 7:24, 36; 8:26, 30; 9:9) which have often been referred to as “Mark’s Messianic Secret.” Jesus tells the disciples and those He heals not to tell about His teachings and acts. Jesus did not want to be known merely as a healer or miracle worker. These were only signs that pointed to His Messiahship, which at this point in His life had not been fully revealed. Jesus came to (1) reveal the Father; (2) give Himself as a sacrifice for sin; and (3) give believers an example to follow. The healings and deliverances were only signs of His compassion for the weak, sick, and outcast. This was also an OT predicted sign of the ministry of the Messiah (cf. Isa. 61:1).[3]



“…early in the morning…arose…to a lonely place…praying…”

            Despite a full day of ministry (vv. 21-34), Jesus got up early in the morning, before daybreak (about 4 a.m.) and went out to a lonely place (erēmon, “uninhabited, remote”) place (cf. v. 4) where He spent time praying. He withdrew from the acclaim of the Capernaum crowds to a wilderness place—the kind of place where He initially confronted Satan and withstood his temptations (cf. vv. 12-13).[4]    

            Mark selectively portrayed Jesus at prayer on three crucial occasions, each in a setting of darkness and aloneness: near the beginning of his account (v. 35), near the middle (6:46), and near the end (14:32-42). All three were occasions when He was faced with the possibility of achieving His messianic mission in a more attractive, less costly way. But in each case He gained strength through prayer.[5]

            The lesson for us in that is so obvious it hardly needs to be stated.  If Jesus found it necessary to spend time in prayer, how much more necessary is it for us!  There is simply no way to experience life as God desires for us to experience it apart from spending time with God in prayer.  E. Stanley Jones, the well-known Methodist missionary and theologian, used a wonderful analogy about prayer.  He called prayer “…time exposure to God.”  He likened Christians to a photographic place.  The more we are exposed to God, the more of His image can be seen in us.

“…everyone is looking for you…” - Implied some annoyance because they thought Jesus was failing to capitalize on some excellent opportunities in Capernaum.[6]  Luke’s account of this incident sheds some more light on what they meant.  Luke makes it clear the people of Capernaum did not want Him to leave their town.  The people were looking for Jesus because He healed them, not because of His teaching (cf. Luke 4:43).[7]


“Let us go somewhere else to towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” – Jesus had a clear understanding of His mission and He allowed nothing—not the praise of people or the criticism of the religious establishment—to keep Him from doing what He came to earth to do.  Jesus felt deeply that He had been sent (cf. Luke 4:43) to proclaim the gospel of God (cf. 1:14–15). He sensed that He was not sent as a miracle worker or healer, but as the establisher of a new day, a new relationship with the Father, the inauguration of the kingdom of God![8]


Healing a Man with Leprosy (1:40-45)


“a leper” -  “lepros” – This word was used in biblical times to refer to wide variety of diseases of the skin, not just Hanson's disease as leprosy is known be diagnosed in biblical times with leprosy was to be sentenced to life of isolation and humiliation...Leviticus 13: 45,46 sums up the lot of a leper: "The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face, and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!'  As long as he has the infection he remains unclean.  He must live alone; he must live outside the camp." And by Jesus' day, the rabbinical laws relating to lepers had taken on an even more absurd quality...for example--

--if a leper stuck his head inside a house or building, the entire structure was pronounced unclean...

--it was illegal to greet or acknowledge a leper, even from a great distance...

--lepers were required to remain at least 150 feet away if they were upwind and 6 feet away if downwind...

--according to the Jewish historian Josephus, lepers were treated like dead people, and they were in fact the walking dead of the ancient world...

Jesus seemed to have special compassion on those poor, unfortunate people who had contracted the disease of leprosy and became social outcasts because of it.  There are four specific instances where leprosy is mentioned in relation the ministry of Jesus.


“came to Him” – This was the act of a desperate mad because what he did was actually punishable by death.  For a leper to go closer to others than the law was a capital offense.


“beseeching” – A particularly strong verb carrying the idea of an urgent appeal.  He was pleading with or begging Jesus.


“If you are willing, You can make me clean…” - He was not doubting Jesus’ power (i.e. the leper calls Jesus “Lord” in Matt. 8:2), but His desire to act.[9]

“moved with compassion” - This phrase may well be key to his entire event...literally the text says Jesus was "filled" with compassion...the word translated "moved or filled" means much more than just an emotional refers to a physical reaction...Jesus' compassion for the man was so strong, He actually felt it physically…you probably know that feeling...our phrase "my heart goes out to you" is how we sometimes describe's that inward physical churning that goes on inside of us when we see someone we love's more than pity or sympathy... it is gut-wrenching compassion...


“He stretched out His hand and touched him…” - While the people standing around Jesus were not doubt scrambling to get away from this leper who had dared to come too close to them, Jesus reached His hand out to the man...and the word translated "touched" doesn't mean just a casual, superficial is often translated "to take hold of"...the idea is Jesus placed His hand firmly on the man and hung on...this was totally unheard touch a leper meant to become ceremonially unclean and to run the risk of catching the disease yourself...and because of that, the people who saw this were shocked...the disciples were shocked...and most of all, the leper was shocked because he had not been touched by another person since he was pronounced a leper...


      Why did Jesus do that?  Why touch the man?'s interesting that in the gospels that over and over again see Jesus reaching out and touching touching these people Jesus was saying, "I understand your pain, I care about you, and I'm willing to identify with you.” All that is picture of what Jesus did for us by becoming flesh and offering Himself as the sacrifice for our sins…numerous Bible scholars have pointed out that the disease of leprosy in Scripture is often symbolic of human provides graphic outward picture of what sin does to a person on the inside...the physical decay and corruption caused by leprosy is a powerful reminder of the spiritual decay and corruption sin causes in our Paul put it in 2 Cor.5:21 - "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."...just as Jesus exposed Himself to this man's leprosy in order to heal him, Jesus exposed Himself to our sin in order to provide us cleansing and forgiveness...


“I am willing; be cleansed…” - That statement is a mirror, an echo of the leper's request in v.12...the leper said, "If you are willing" to which Jesus responded, "I am willing"...the leper said, "You can make me clean" to which Jesus responded, "Be cleansed."  And the next phrase says "...immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed." longer did he have to cry "unclean, unclean" everywhere he his cry was, "I'm clean, I'm clean!" 


      And that is exactly what Jesus does for us when we turn to Him repentance and faith...immediately, instantaneously He takes our sin away and pronounces us Paul so eloquently put it in Colossians 1:21-22: "And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach..."  We too can say, "I'm clean, I'm clean!"


Mark 1:29-45 provides a beautiful picture of the compassion of Jesus.  Here is example after example of how Jesus relates to those who need.  In the book So, Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy! Barbara Johnson lists some ways different people respond to a person who has fallen into a pit.

A subjective person says, "I feel for you, down there."

An objective person says, "It's logical that someone fell into the pit.

A Pharisee says, "Only bad people fall into a pit."

A fundamentalist says, "You deserve your pit."

A self-pitying person says, "Let me tell you about my pit."

An optimist says, "Things could be worse."

A pessimist says, "Things will get worse."

Jesus sees the person, takes him by the hand, and lift him out of the pit.

That's the message of Markk 1:29-45.  Jesus reaches down with compassion and pulls us out of the pit of sin.




“…say nothing to anyone…” – Probably for the same reason he did not permit the demons to speak in verse 34.  The Gospel was not yet finished, and the message was still incomplete. Jesus did not want to be known as a miracle worker.[10]





[1] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Mk 1:29–31). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[2] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Mk 1:32–34). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[3] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (25). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[4] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Mk 1:35). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Mk 1:35). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[6] Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (Mk 1:36–37). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[7] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (25). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[8] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (25). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[9] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (26). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

[10] Utley, R. J. D. (2001). Vol. Volume 2: The Gospel According to Peter: Mark and I & II Peter. Study Guide Commentary Series (26). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.