The Book of Mark - Teachers Comments

2024 Quarter 3 Lesson 02 - A Day in the Ministry of Jesus

Teachers Comments
Jul 06 - Jul 12

Key Texts: Mark 1:16–45, Mark 5:19

Study Focus: Mark 1

Introduction: In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus embarks on His earthly minis­try in partnership with the Father. Mark clearly shows from the very beginning of his account that Jesus is “the Son of God” and represents Him as “the Holy One of God.” As God’s Son, Jesus preaches “the gospel of God.” Endowed with these heavenly credentials, Jesus starts a very active ministry on earth, as depicted in the first chapter of Mark.

Lesson Themes: This week’s study considers certain facets of Jesus’ ministry, as featured in Mark 1, namely:

  1. Jesus’ ministry in partnership with the Father.
  2. Jesus’ mission from Capernaum to the entire region of Galilee.
  3. The prayer life of Jesus.
  4. His authority.
  5. His encounter with demons.

Part II: Commentary

Jesus’ Ministry in Partnership With the Father

The life and ministry of Jesus Christ comprise a comprehensive demonstration of the gospel. Jesus is the living embodiment of the good news for all humankind. Jesus had a clear idea about His mission on this earth; it was to reach people from all regions with the gospel of God. “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth” (Mark 1:38, NKJV). As such, Jesus engaged in an active daily ministry, according to Mark.

It is interesting to note that Mark repeatedly describes not only Jesus’ actions but also the active role of God in the ministry of His Son. The Father and the Son work in close association (John 5:19). Such is the case in Mark 5:19: “He [Jesus] said to him, ‘Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He had mercy on you’ ” (NASB, emphasis added). “Mark portrays God as agent on seventy-five occasions. The explicit agency of God appears in association with thirty-five occurrences of verbs.”—Paul L. Danove, The Rhetoric of the Characterization of God, Jesus, and Jesus’ Disciples in the Gospel of Mark (New York: T & T Clark, 2005), p. 30. Mark uses the expression “God” or “Lord” (kurios) to refer to the Father, or cites a scriptural reference when God the Father is alluded to as the agent of a given action. Examples of these usages can be found in Mark 5:19; Mark 9:37; Mark 10:6, 9; Mark 11:25; and Mark 13:19, 20.

From Capernaum to the Entire Region of Galilee

Jesus settled in Capernaum, according to Mark 2:1 (see also Matt. 4:13). It was here that Jesus established His headquarters for the major part of His public ministry. In Matthew 9:1, Capernaum is called “His own city” (NKJV). (See also R. H. Mounce, “Capernaum,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988], p. 609.)

Jesus’ day started very early in the morning, as we read in Mark 1:35: “In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up” (NASB). Mark depicts Jesus as moving from place to place in the region of Galilee (Mark 1:14, 39). Most definitely, the surrounding areas adjacent to Capernaum, all the way to the Sea of Galilee (Mark 1:16) and the nearby towns (Mark 1:38), were the places that Jesus frequented most; but He worked the entire region of Galilee (Mark 1:39), including the relatively more distant and unpopulated areas outside the city (Mark 1:45).

In Capernaum, Jesus visited the synagogue in this city (Mark 1:21) and many other synagogues established in the region (Mark 1:39) to teach and to preach. Likewise when He would come to Jerusalem, Jesus went daily to the temple in Jerusalem to teach (Mark 14:49). He proclaimed the gospel of God (Mark 1:14). In addition, He healed those who suffered in mind and body: “The whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons” (Mark 1:33, 34, NASB).

Jesus, a Man of Prayer

Jesus is portrayed in Mark’s Gospel as performing one action after another. Mark highlights Jesus’ ministry as a series of events happening im­mediately after a previous incident. The Greek adverb euthus_—­translated as “immediately, at once, suddenly” in English—is found in 51 verses in the four Gospels and 41 times in Mark (Mark 1:21, 29; Mark 6:45, 50; and Mark 14:43, among other verses; see Frederick W. Danker, et al., _A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature [Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000], p. 406). It is evident that Mark’s account is the gospel in motion. However, even though Mark’s emphasis is on a very active Jesus as occupied in His ministry, Mark also underlines Jesus’ ministry as revolving around a life of prayer.

Prayer was a key element in Jesus’ human experience and a major priority of His ministry (Mark 1:35). Although Jesus’ everyday life was filled with many activities, communion with His Father was not optional under any circumstance. At the beginning of his Gospel, Mark highlights Jesus’ prayer experience. Mark also notes Jesus’ prayer experience as He faced demonic spirits in His ministry (Mark 9:29) and in the final days of His work on earth (Mark 14:32–38).

Jesus’ Authority

The first reference to Jesus’ authority is found in Mark 1:22: “They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (NASB).

In his commentary on Mark, M. Eugene Boring mentions that “for Judaism and early Christianity, God was the ultimate authority; the issue was how God’s authority is mediated. In Judaism, the divine authority is mediated by the Torah, which then must be interpreted through debate and voting by qualified scholars. For Mark, God’s authority is mediated by the word of Jesus, who simply pronounces.”—M. Eugene Boring, Mark: A Commentary (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012), p. 63. This insight explains the concern of Jewish leaders when they interrogated Jesus: “The chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to Him, and began saying to Him, ‘By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?’ ” (Mark 11:27, 28, NASB1995).

Additionally, we must bear in mind that the scribes were masters of the letter of the law but were never, it seems, transformed by its substance. Thus, they were not able to live it, incarnate it, and demonstrate in their lives the practical dimension of the gospel (Mark 1:22). We should note the discussion between Jesus and some Jews in John 5. Jesus says to them, “You examine the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is those very Scriptures that testify about Me; . . . but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves” (John 5:39, 42, NASB). Jesus, the Master Teacher and the Great Exemplar, moves from a superficial conformity to the mere letters of the law to an actual living demonstration of the Bible truth.

Mark 1:27 helps us better to understand the issue surrounding Jesus’ authority. The verse states, “They debated among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him’ ” (NASB). The author shows that the people associate Jesus’ teaching with authority, an authority, in turn, that is visibly associated with actions. Mark associates and substantiates Jesus’ authority with the miracles He performs. In other words, the authority of Jesus implies exousia; that is, it is both “knowledge and power” (Frederick W. Danker, et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, p. 353.) For Mark, Jesus’ proclamation of the good news incorporates miracles.

Jesus and the Demons

Notable in Mark is Jesus’ confrontation with demons. The Gospel records the demonic forces that challenge Jesus’ ministry (Mark 1:34, 39; Mark 3:15, 22; Mark 6:13; Mark 7:26, 29, 30; Mark 9:38; Mark 16:9, 17). These forces are described as evil or as unclean spirits (Mark 1:23, 26 onward; Mark 3:11, 30; Mark 5:2, 8, 13; Mark 6:7; Mark 7:25; Mark 9:25). Mark describes the people whom these demons afflict as demon-possessed (Mark 1:32, Mark 5:15, Mark 5:18). No other Gospel concentrates on as many references to the forces of evil.

Three aspects of Jesus’ encounters with the forces of evil are important to note here:

1. Evil is present from the beginning of the ministry of Jesus (Mark 1:23). Indeed, the first miracle of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Mark was to cast an evil spirit out of a man in the synagogue of Capernaum (Mark 1:25).

2. The demons could recognize what the masters of Israel did not recognize in relation to Jesus and His identity. The demons professed that Jesus was “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24), “the Son of God” (Mark 3:11), and “Son of the Most High God” (Mark 5:7, NASB).

3. Jesus always overcame the demons. Mark reports that the demons exclaimed, “Have You come to destroy us?” (Mark 1:24, NASB). On another occasion, the demons “would fall down before Him” (Mark 3:11, NASB). Jesus cast the demons out of their human hosts, regardless of how many unclean spirits inhabited the life of the demon-possessed (Mark 5:9, Mark 16:9).

Consider this insightful study, originally written in Spanish, on the liberation of the demon-possessed person in the synagogue: “Jesus has the power because He is the Son of God, the Anointed of God, possessed by the Holy Spirit. The word of Jesus makes the sovereignty of God effective; the impure spirit opposes that sovereignty and challenges Jesus, while desecrating the sacred place of the synagogue. . . . The demons may protest, but they cannot prevent the sovereignty of God from spreading rapidly through the liberating power of the Word of Jesus.”—Ricardo Aguilar, “La liberación de un poseído en una sinagoga (Mc 1,21b–28),” in Reflexiones Bíblicas para un mundo en Crisis, ed. Javier Quezada (Mexico: Mission Nosotros A. C., 2010), pp. 190, 193.

Jesus, as the One who has come to establish the kingdom of God (Mark 1:15), is supreme above all demoniac spirits. Jesus’ “dominion is an everlasting dominion” (Dan. 7:14, NASB). His dominion includes supremacy over earthly powers and evil spiritual forces alike. In the Gospel of Mark, Satan is designated as a defeated enemy.

Part III: Life Application

Ellen G. White precisely described the active ministry of Jesus Christ. She wrote, “The Saviour’s life on earth was not a life of ease and devotion to Himself, but He toiled with persistent, earnest, untiring effort for the salvation of lost mankind. From the manger to Calvary He followed the path of self-denial and sought not to be released from arduous tasks, painful travels and exhausting care and labor.”—Steps to Christ, p. 78. Then she added, “So those who are the partakers of the grace of Christ will be ready to make any sacrifice, that others for whom He died may share the heavenly gift. They will do all they can to make the world better for their stay in it.”—Steps to Christ, p. 78.

More than likely, the majority of your class members are believers who also are actively involved in a particular ministry in the church. Ask them to consider and discuss the following questions:

Jesus’ entire life was marked by self-denial, from the cradle to the cross. Has anyone of us embarked yet in a ministry that has demanded too much sacrifice? Discuss.

How do we live the gospel in our daily lives?