Arno Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
PART I. THE SERVANT WHO HE IS AND HOW HE CAME
1. The Servant, the Son of God. (Mark 1:1.)
2. His coming promised and announced. (Mark 1:2-8. Matthew 3:1-11; Luke 3:1-18; John 1:19-30.)
3. The Servant comes forth. (Mark 1:9-11. Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:31-34.)
4. The Servant in the wilderness. (Mark 1:12-13. Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13.)
1. The Servant, the Son of God., Mark 1:1.
No other Gospel begins in this way. The Deity of our Lord is first of all emphasized. Nothing is said about the virgin birth, nor is a genealogy given. The miraculous birth is most fully brought out in Luke’s Gospel, the Gospel of our Lord’s humanity. No genealogy appears in Mark; a servant does not need such. Nor do we find Bethlehem mentioned, or the event which is characteristic to the Gospel of Matthew, the visit of the wise men, seeking the newborn King of the Jews. All these and other matters are omitted because they do not fall within the scope and purpose of the Gospel of Mark. The Servant is the Son of God. This great truth is fully attested by His obedience in always doing the will of Him that sent Him and by His mighty miracles which accompanied His loving service. If He were not the Son of God He could not have rendered the perfect service. Sonship and Service always go together. Only a Son of God can be a servant of God. Grace makes us, if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, sons of God. True service for God is the result of the enjoyment Of our son place in Christ Jesus. A deeper realization and enjoyment of our sonship will be followed by a more obedient and constant service. The Gospel of John gives the fullest witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (John 20:31). The Gospel of Mark shows that He is the Son of God by His wonderful character as the Servant.
2. His Coming promised and announced. Mark 1:2-8.
Prophets promised His Coming (Malachi 3:1). The passage proves Him to be Jehovah. In Malachi we read that Jehovah says “he shall prepare the way before Me.” The Spirit of God changes the “Me” to “Thy Face.” The servant is none other than Jehovah, who spoke to the Prophets. Isaiah 40:3 is likewise quoted. Here too we find the same testimony that Jesus the Servant is Jehovah. “Prepare ye the way of Jehovah.”
The account of the ministry of John the Baptist is the briefest in the Gospel of Mark. A few sentences only describe his testimony in the wilderness and his person. All the land of Judea and they of Jerusalem went out to him. The baptism of John in the river of Jordan was the outward sign of repentance. They confessed their sins. A comparison with the record of the Baptist’s ministry in Matthew, Luke and John is very instructive. In Mark all the preaching of John concerning the state of the nation is omitted, for the Holy Spirit describes in Mark John’s ministry only as a necessary preliminary to introduce the Servant and His ministry. Of the baptism which Christ is to bring Mark mentions “the Holy Spirit;” “and with fire” is left out. The fire baptism is His judgment work stated in Matthew and Luke. Christ as the humble Servant does not execute judgment, but the coming King (Matthew) and the Son of Man coming again (Luke) will judge and burn the chaff with unquenchable fire.
3. The Servant comes forth., Mark 1:9-11
The Servant appears to begin His service. From Nazareth of Galilee He came forth. There too during the hidden years He had served. The Servant was absolutely sinless and yet He was baptized in Jordan. He showed His perfect willingness to take, in obedience to the Father’s will, the sinner’s place in death. In Mark 1:10 the word “straightway” is found for the first in Mark. It is the characteristic word of this Gospel describing the promptness of His service. The anointing by the reception of the Spirit follows. In Matthew we read “heaven was opened unto Him.” In Luke, “heaven was opened.” In Mark “He saw the heavens opened.” Encouraging sight for Him, who had taken the lowest place! All God’s servants need the vision of this opened heavens. The Father’s voice proclaimed Him then as His beloved Son.
4. The Servant in the Wilderness. Mark 1:12-13
Upon this He was driven immediately into the wilderness to be tempted of Satan. His fitness to be the Servant to minister and give His life for a ransom was fully proven in His victorious conflict. The different temptations are not reported by Mark; they belong to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, where we find them. But here we have a statement which is peculiar to Mark. “And was with the wild beasts.” It tells of his deep humiliation. Moses and Elijah were in the wilderness being prepared for service. David also had been alone in the solitary places. None, however, was in the place which He took, whose eternal abode was the Father’s bosom. The wilderness and the wild beasts are the witnesses of a marred creation; the mighty Creator had come in the form of the creature to meet and overcome under such conditions the fallen being, Satan. Some have taught that He was in danger of being attacked by the wild beasts. This was impossible (Psalms 91:9-13).
PART II. THE SERVANT’S WORK NOT TO BE MINISTERED UNTO, BUT TO MINISTER -- Chapter 1:14-10:52
The Ministry in Galilee after John’s Imprisonment.
1. The Servant in Galilee preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. (Mark 1:14-15. Matthew 4:12-17; Luke 4:14-15.)
2. The Calling of fellow servants. (Mark 1:16-20. Matthew 4:18-22; Luke 5:1-11.)
3. The Servant in Capernaum. (Mark 1:21-28; Luke 4:31-37.)
4. Peter’s Mother-in-law raised up. (Mark 1:29-31. Matthew 8:14-15; Luke 4:38-39.)
5. The Servant heals many and casts out demons. (Mark 1:32-34. Luke 4:31-37; Matthew 8:16-18; Luke 4:40-41.)
6. The Servant in prayer. (Mark 1:35.)
7. The Interruption and the renewed service. (Mark 1:36-39. Luke 4:42-44. 8. The Leper healed. (Mark 1:40-45. Matthew 8:1-4; Luke 5:12-16.)
1. The Servant in Galilee preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. Mark 1:14-15.
The Servant begins His blessed service in Galilee immediately after John had been put into prison. And now the Lord takes up the hushed testimony of the forerunner. The heralding of the Kingdom at hand through the presence of Him who came to His own is less prominent in Mark. In the first twelve chapters of the Gospel of Matthew it is one of the leading features. The time, indeed, was fulfilled. While Matthew and Luke report the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom with the demand to repent, here in Mark the words are added “and believe the Gospel.” This gospel is of course not the Gospel of our salvation. That was not preached till after He had finished the work the Father gave Him to do.
2. The Calling of fellow servants., Mark 1:16-20.
It is a blessed scene which we have before us. The Servant of God calls fellow servants, weak and sinful men, to become fishers of men. These are Simon and Andrew, James and John. They knew Him and had believed in Him. They were his disciples. But now He calls them into service. “Come ye after Me.” The Grace which called them gave them power to forsake earthly things and to come after Him. Boats and nets, their trade as fishermen and even their father, Zebedee, were left behind. Oh! blessed place to serve the Lord Christ and yield obedience to His call. We must own Him as Lord and follow Him in His own path of faith, obedience and humility. To seek others and bring them to Himself is the service to which He still calls. Note the word “straightway” in Mark 1:17 and Mark 1:20.
3. The Servant in Capernaum. Mark 1:21-28.
The Servant and His fellow servants went to Capernaum. Straightway he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath to teach. His first preaching in Nazareth (Luke 4:16-30) is not reported by Mark. It is after they thrust Him out of the city where He had been brought up, that He went to Capernaum. The blessed Servant knew no discouragement nor self pity. They laid their wicked hands on Him in Nazareth, then He went on to Capernaum and straightway taught there. His doctrine uttered with authority and power astonished all, yet He ever was the meek and lowly One. But the Word had another effect. A man with an unclean spirit interrupted Him in the synagogue. Satan’s power was present and the demons were forced to confess “Jesus of Nazareth “ as “the Holy One of God.” Then the Servant’s power is manifested. He rebuked him and commanded the demon to come out of him. The Servant’s fame spread abroad throughout all that region.
4. Peter’s Mother-in-law raised up. Mark 1:29-31.
This miracle is found in the Gospel of Matthew in a different setting. For the dispensational setting see “The Gospel of Matthew,” chapter 8. The place given to this miracle here is equally significant. The first healing of disease in the Gospel of Mark follows the casting out of the demon, the defeat of Satan’s power. This order will be followed when He comes again, not as the lowly Servant, but as the mighty King. Then Satan will be bound first and the greatest spiritual and physical blessings will come to this poor world at last. Concerning the healing of Peter’s wife’s mother, Matthew tells us “He touched her hand;” Luke “He stood over her and rebuked the fever.” Mark’s testimony by the Holy Spirit is “He took her by the hand and lifted her up.” How beautiful! It reveals the tenderness, the loving sympathy of the blessed One. With what gentleness He must have lifted her up so as to avoid another pang of pain in her feverish body; but immediately she was healed. And He is still the same.
5. The Servant heals many and casts out demons. Mark 1:32-34.
Deliverance from demons and divers diseases came to many on that memorable day “when the sun did set.” We must view these deliverances and healings in Mark’s Gospel not so much as the evidences of His power as the manifestations of the great love and goodness of the Servant. Then He suffered the demons not to speak, because they knew Him. He loved to be unknown and did not want the applause of men nor the witness of the unclean spirits. Of His unostentatiousness we shall find further evidences.
6. The Servant in Prayer., Mark 1:35.
And after such a day of uninterrupted toil, preaching, healing diseases, driving out demons, occupied from early morning till the sun did set, we find Him, rising a great while before day, in a solitary place, praying. He is alone in the presence of the Father. Thus it was fulfilled, “He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth mine ear as the instructed” (Isaiah 50:4). Only Mark gives us this precious information. It tells us that the Servant, though the Son of God, walked in complete dependence on God His Father. Prayer is the expression of such dependence. He had been anointed with the Spirit for His work, heard the Father’s loving approval, defeated Satan, cast out demons, healed divers diseases, yet He is still the dependent One. Independence in service for God is a snare, the very spirit of Satan. The perfect Servant had His times for quietness, retirement and prayer, in which He cast Himself anew upon Him, whom to glorify He had come to earth. “And if He thus retired to be with God, Himself the Lord God, before He entered upon the work of the day, can we wonder that we fail so much in outward labor, who fail yet more in this inward intimacy with our Father? Be assured, the secret of holy strength and endurance in service is found there alone.” (W. Kelly. “Gospel of Mark.”) What child of God does not feel the deep necessity of this and deplores the neglect of this blessed privilege?
7. The Interruption and the renewed service., Mark 1:36-39.
But He is followed by his disciples and is interrupted even in prayer. No rebuke comes from His lips. Willing He responds to the new demands. For that He came “not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”
8. The Leper healed., Mark 1:40-45.
Leprosy, that vile and loathsome disease, is a type of sin. Like sin it is incurable and only Jehovah could cure leprosy. When Jehovah had healed the disease the priest had to pronounce the leper clean. This leper recognized in the humble Servant the mighty Jehovah. He kneeled in His presence and expressed his faith in His power and implored Him to make him clean. Here again Mark tells us something of our blessed Lord, which we find neither in Matthew or Luke’s account. He was moved with compassion. Thus the spirit of God in some brief additions portrays the Servant in His loving service. The leper is healed. The Servant is Jehovah and both His love and His power are revealed. He charged him to say nothing to any man. In this the Servant once more manifests His humility, that He served in an unostentatious way. He did not want honor from man. His Father knew all His service; that was enough for Him. Yet the enemy through the cleansed leper attempted the popularity of the Servant. He sought the desert places once more to hide Himself. May we serve after this great pattern Servant.
Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
the Fourth Week of Lent
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