A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

Mark 1:1-20 - The Gospel of Mark

Bible study


Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

Mark 1:1-20

The second Gospel appearing in the New Testament was written by the man whose name it bears. Mark was not one of Jesus’ twelve disciples but he was close to a good deal of the action and is a reliable witness. He also was a friend of Peter the disciple and it is believed that Peter gave him a good deal of information.

He has a particular style of writing, giving the feeling of action and continuity. The word ‘immediately’ is often used, introducing more movement.

The overall feeling we gain through reading this account is that Jesus was a servant.

Firstly of the Father, and in a way, a servant of mankind. He is seen doing so much for those around him, very often healing, or delivering people from evil. He is seen as having divine power over disease, demons, nature and the evil one. In comparison with the other Gospels, Mark’s record seems quite a bit briefer.It is to be hoped that readers following this study will gain another glimpse of the Lord Jesus who is the subject of the book.

Verse 1 The beginning of the Gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Mark commences by telling us that he has good news to share. The word ‘Gospel’ carries that meaning. The heart and centre of the Good News is Jesus himself. The description of who He is, ‘Son of God’ is in agreement with the rest of the New Testament. It is important for us to note the following:
One; being Son does not mean that He had a beginning as if He was created.
Two. It does not mean that somewhere back in time He became a son by adoption.
Three. It does not mean that He is somehow inferior to the Father or less than divine. Son of God is a title. It speaks of the relationship He has with the Father. He was always the Son from eternity past, just as the Father was always the Father. In the eyes of Jewish readers in particular, sonship was seen as equality with a father.

Verses 2 & 3 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 for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.’”

The Old Testament foretold the coming of someone prior to Jesus, to prepare the people for His message. That person was John the Baptist, so called because those who heard and heeded his message were baptized by him. We will go on to see the ministry this unusual man had in an unusual place.

John the Baptist
John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins

Verse 4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

Maybe John remained in the wilderness to be separate from the commercial life of the cities and to have access to the Jordan River for baptizing people. He was asking folk to consider their ways and how they related to God. His command to those who felt their guilt and need, was to repent, that is, change their mind, turn around, and show it by the ritual of baptism

Verse 5 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.

God was with this man, making his ministry successful. People must have talked to each other about him and crowds flocked to hear him. Many felt their need of God’s forgiveness.

Verse 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

As we mentioned earlier, John was an unusual man. He was like the Old Testament prophet, Elijah, who dressed and behaved in this way. No doubt this caused so much attention to be given to him.

Verses 7 & 8 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 was aware that Jesus was about to commence His ministry. John was simply preparing the ground and introducing Jesus as the Saviour, someone infinitely greater than himself. What Jesus would do for the people was so much greater and life-changing.

Verses 9-11 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 torn open and the Spirit descend 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 learn from Matthew’s Gospel that John was reluctant to baptize Jesus, knowing that He had no need to repent. But Jesus made it clear that He was identifying Himself with those He had come to save. It was a humble step for Him to take but there were many more humble steps that He would take in His ministry. Immediately, God the Father gave His stamp of approval to His Son, and to what He had just done. The onlookers, seeing the Spirit in the form of a dove and hearing the voice, must surely have been convinced of the nature of what they were witnessing

Verses 12 & 13 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.

In this section we have seen the actions of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Each acts distinctly, but each is equally God by nature. It is now time for Jesus to be tried by temptation in order to prepare Him as Saviour of the world. To conquer the Evil One as a man was essential for Him. In Matthew we are told that He fasted for this forty day period and we read of the three major temptations put in front of Him. Jesus won the contest by faith in the Father and in the Word of God. It is interesting to note that wild animals didn’t trouble Him either, though there were dangerous beasts in that area.

Verses 14 & 15 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!’

John was imprisoned because he had spoken against the immorality of Herod the King. He was later to die in the prison. The message of Jesus was similar to that of John. He was not referring to an earthly rule but to the rule of God in people’s hearts.

Verses 16-18 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.

It is a big step for men to leave their means of living to follow someone they knew not where. It would seem that they were acquainted with Jesus to some extent—He was not a perfect stranger. Nonetheless, His personal power must have been strong

Verses 19 & 20 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.

Another two fishermen were called to Jesus’ side. This was no game; it was serious participation in what Jesus was doing. To follow meant to engage, to enter into what Jesus was doing. A big step leading to discipling over the next few years


We can’t read the New Testament without feeling that we, too, are being called to follow. All the way through the Gospels we are challenged to be on His side. If not, we are classed as being against Him. Jesus wants us to take up His challenge. We will be given every reason to do so as we read this Gospel. We are to see clearly that Jesus is Lord.

 Mark 1:1-20     Mark 1:21-45     Mark 2:1-17     Mark 2:18-3:6     Mark 3:7-30     Mark 4:1-20     Mark 4:21-41     Mark 5:1-20     Mark 5:21-43     Mark 6:1-16     Mark 6:30-52     Mark 7:1-23     Mark 7:24-37     Mark 8:1-21     Mark 8:22-38     Mark 9:1-29     Mark 9:30-50     Mark 10:1-23     Mark 10:24-45     Mark 10:46-11:22     Mark 11:23-12:12     Mark 12:13-37     Mark 12:38-13:20     Mark 13:21-14:5     Mark 14:10-31     Mark 14:32-54     Mark 14:55-72     Mark 15:1-24     Mark 15:25-41     Mark 15:42-16:15    Next

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