Abbott's Illustrated New Testament
The new dispensation was considered as commencing in the preaching of John the Baptist. The law and the prophets were until John. (Luke 16:16.)
Prophets. Mark, writing, as is supposed, at Rome, and for readers not particularly acquainted with the Jewish scriptures, alludes to the sacred books but seldom, and then in general terms.
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. This prediction is quoted in Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23, showing that it was regarded as a great outstanding one, and the predicted forerunner as the connecting link between the old and the new economies. Like the great ones of the earth, the Prince of peace was to have his immediate approach proclaimed and his way prepared; and the call here--taking it generally--is a call to put out of the way whatever would obstruct his progress and hinder his complete triumph, whether those hindrances were public or personal, outward or inward. Levelling and smoothing are here the obvious figures whose sense is conveyed in the first words of the proclamation, "Prepare you the way of the Lord." The idea is that every obstruction shall be so removed as to reveal to the whole world the salvation of God in him whose name is the "Savior."
Baptism of repentance; that is, baptism as a public pledge and profession of repentance. There is a peculiar appropriateness in the application of water as a symbol of inward purification; but the real value of the rite consists in its being the form by which the convert, in a public and solemn manner, calls upon his fellow-men to witness that he abandons his sins and returns to God. Baptism has no efficacy in itself. It is simply the public profession of a principle by a symbolical act, instead of by words.
Nazareth; a village situated back among the hills, at a distance from the lake. It was the place where his parents resided. It would seem that he remained at home with them until this time.
Ministered unto him; attended upon him,--to supply his wants, and to restore his strength and spirits after the temptation.
James and John were afterwards very prominent among the apostles. Peter, James, and John, are often alluded to, as the special friends and companions of the Savior. John wrote the Gospel which is called by his name. James was beheaded by one of the Herods. (Acts 12:1,2.) There was another James among the twelve.
Hired servants. This shows that they were not very poor, as is often supposed. The disciples returned to their home again after this, and Jesus with them as their guest, Mark 1:29; comp. also Mark 1:35,36, which show that Jesus spent the night in their dwelling.--It is remarkable that, after the series of exciting scenes to which these disciples were now introduced had been brought to a close by the crucifixion of their Master we find them again returning to their early home, and to their wonted occupations, (John 21:1-14,) though only for a short time.
When the sun did set. The fame of the miracle performed in the synagogue, and of that at the house of Simon, produced great public excitement; but as it was the Sabbath, the people would not bring other sick persons to be healed until the sun went down.
They knew that he was the Messiah. Jesus often endeavored to moderate the public excitement, by restraining the desire of those who had been the subjects of his most astonishing miracles, to proclaim them to others.--Because they knew him. It is remarkable that the demoniacs seemed always to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
Let us go, &c.; meaning that they would not go back into Capernaum, where the public excitement was already too great, but into some of the other towns.
For a testimony unto them. The law required that, when a leper supposed himself healed, he should report himself to the priest, in order that the reality of the cure might be ascertained, and certain ceremonies performed, by which he was to be released from the restrictions of ceremonial uncleanness. The leprosy was a very inveterate and terrible disease; and every precaution was taken to prevent its spread. The point of interest in this case seems to be, that the person healed was a leper. It appears to have been the first case of the kind which had occurred; and hence the great excitement which it occasioned.
Could no more openly enter, &c. It was to prevent the evils arising from such a wide-spread and high excitement, that Jesus often charged those whose cases were most remarkable, not to speak publicly of the circumstances of their cure.--Desert places; solitary places, away from habitations.
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