corner graphic   Hi,    
Facebook image
ver. 2.0.17.05.27
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to classic.studylight.org/

Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Mark 1

 

 

Other Authors
Verse 1

The word Gospel signifies a message of glad tidings, and intimates to us, that the gospel of the doctrine contains the most gladsome tidings, the most joyful message, that ever was sent from God to mankind: happy tidings concerning our reconciliation with God, and salvation by Jesus Christ. O how highly should we prize, how stedfastly believe, how cordially embrace, these good tidings of great joy!

Observe, 2. This gospel is called the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because Christ, as God, is the Author of this gospel, and also the principal subject and matter of it. Indeed St. John the Baptist was the first publisher and preacher of the gospel-doctrine, but Christ himself was the first and principal Author, and likewise the chief Subject-matter of it; for whatever is taught in the gospel relates either to the person and offices of Christ, or to the benefits received by him, or the means of enjoying those benefits from him.

Observe, 3. How St. Mark styles Christ the Son of God, as St. Matthew had styled him before, the Son of David; the one sets forth the verity of his human nature, the other the reality of his divine nature; signifying to us, that the true and promised Messias was both God and Man in two distinct natures, and one Person for ever. He is true and real God, as well as the Father and the Holy Ghost; not a mere Man, but God as well as Man.


Verse 2

St. Mark begins his gospel with an account of St. John the Baptist's preaching and ministry, and declares, 1. That the prophets of old, particularly Isaiah and Malachi, did long before foretell the Baptist's message and ministry; that he should go before Christ as his harbinger to prepare the way for him: Behold, I send my messenger to prepare thy way.

Where note, 1. The dignity and authority of the ministers of Christ: they are his messengers sent by him to deliver his mind and will unto his people. This ministerial mission is twofold, extraordinary and ordinary; the former when God immediately by himself calls men to the holy function; the latter, when he uses the ministry of men in order thereunto.

Observe, 2. The work and office of the ministers of Christ declared, and that is, to prepare people to receive Jesus Christ, offered and tendered to them in the gospel. Behold, I send my messenger, to prepare thy way before thee.

Learn thence, That the great design and end of the ministry of the word, is, to prepare and fit men for entertaining the holy religion of Christ in their hearts, and to oblige them to walk according to the rules and directions of it in their lives. St. Mark begins his gospel with an account of St. John the Baptist's preaching and ministry, and declares, 1. That the prophets of old, particularly Isaiah and Malachi, did long before foretell the Baptist's message and ministry; that he should go before Christ as his harbinger to prepare the way for him: Behold, I send my messenger to prepare thy way.

Where note, 1. The dignity and authority of the ministers of Christ: they are his messengers sent by him to deliver his mind and will unto his people. This ministerial mission is twofold, extraordinary and ordinary; the former when God immediately by himself calls men to the holy function; the latter, when he uses the ministry of men in order thereunto.

Observe, 2. The work and office of the ministers of Christ declared, and that is, to prepare people to receive Jesus Christ, offered and tendered to them in the gospel. Behold, I send my messenger, to prepare thy way before thee.

Learn thence, That the great design and end of the ministry of the word, is, to prepare and fit men for entertaining the holy religion of Christ in their hearts, and to oblige them to walk according to the rules and directions of it in their lives.


Verse 3

Here note, 1. The title given to John the Baptist: he is called a Voice, in respect of his ministerial office, which was to speak forth, to promulge and publish, the doctrine of salvation.

2. The quantity or kind of this voice, a crying voice, the voice of one crying.

This implies, 1. His earnestness and vehemency his zeal His and fervency, in preaching. When we lift up our voice, and cry aloud, we speak with earnestness and fervour. When our own hearts are warmly affected with what we preach, we may hope to affect the hearts of our hearers. Why has God commissioned men rather than angels, to be the preachers and dispensers of his word, but because we can speak to and treat with sinners more feelingly and more affectionately than the angels can?

2. This crying of the holy Baptist in his preaching, implies his liberty and boldness, as well as vehemency and earnestness, in delivering of his message. The lifting up of the voice in speaking, argues boldness and courage in the speaker; as, on the contrary, the depressing of the voice showeth timorousness.

Learn hence, That the ministers of the word are to use both zeal and earnestness, and also courage and boldness of spirit, in delivering the word and message of God, not forbearing to reprove sin, not concealing any part of God's truth, for fear of men's displeasure.

Observe, 3. The sum and substance of what he cried, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight; that is, "Make ready yourselves, prepare your own hearts, to entertain the doctrine and glad tidings of the gospel." It is a metaphorical speech, taken from the custom of loyal and dutiful subjects, who, when their prince is coming to lodge in their city, prepare and make ready the way for his coming, by removing every thing that may obstruct or hinder his progress.

Learn hence, That man's heart by nature is very unfit to embrace and entertain the Lord Jesus Christ. We have naturally no fitness, no disposition, no inclination, to believe in him, or to submit unto him.

2. If ever we desire to entertain Christ in our hearts, we must first prepare and make fit our hearts for the receiving and embracing of him. For though the preparation of the heart be from the Lord, yet he requires the exercise of our faculties, and the use of our endeavours.

He prepares our hearts, by enabling us to the preparation of our own hearts. This is done by getting a sight of the evil of sin, a sense of our misery without Christ, an hungering and thirsting desire after him, and true faith in him. Christ will lodge in no heart that is not thus made ready to receive him.


Verse 4

A twofold account is here given of St. John's execution of his ministry and office: First, his baptising; secondly, his preaching.

John did baptise; that is, admit persons into the church, by washing them with water: John baptised into the name of Christ, who was to come; the apostles baptised into the name of Christ, already come.

The second part of his office was preaching.

Where note, That preaching of the word, and administration of the sacraments, are to go together, and belong only to the ministers of the word, lawfully called. John did baptise and preach; but where and what did he preach? The place where, was the wilderness; a place not much frequented, though not altogether uninhabited; a solitary, mean, and obscure place. Thither God had called him, and there he contents himself.

Learn hence, That the ministers of God must be content to execute their ministry where God calls them, be the place never so mean and obscure, and the people never so rude and barbarous: John was a preacher of great note and fame; Jerusalem the chief city might seem more fit for him; but God had called him to preach in the wilderness, and he would not leave it.

We must not leave our place because it is mean and obscure, nor desert our people, thinking them too base to instruct; but where God has called us we must there abide, till he that called us thither remove us thence.

Observe farther, As the place where the Baptist preached, in the wilderness, so the doctrine which he preached, namely, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; that is, the doctrine of Baptism, which sealeth the remission of sins to the party baptized.

Learn hence, The the preaching of the doctrine of repentance is absolutely necessary, and the indespensable duty of every gospel-minister. John Baptist preached it, our Saviour preached it, his apostles preached it: They went out preaching every where that men should repent. The baptism of repentance (says the learned Lightfoot) belongs to children, though they know not what repentance means, because it engages them to repentance when they come to years to understand that engagement. For thus it was with children circumcised, they became debtors to observe that whole law, though they came to years of discretion.


Verse 5

Here we have an account of the success of St. John's ministry; 1. In the general concourse and resort of the people to it, All Judea and Jerusalem; that is, a great many of all degrees and ranks, of all ages and sexes. John was famed for a prophet, and a prophet was now a great rarity. Malachi was the last prophet before John, and he lived about five hundred years before John. Now the excellency of his person, the earnestness of his preaching, the acceptableness of his doctrine, that the Messias was come, and the austerity of his life and conversation, all these caused the people to flock unto him.

Learn hence, That it is a great encouragement to the ministers of Christ when people show themselves ready and forward to repair unto the places where the word and sacraments are dispensed to them: All Judea and Jerusalem attended upon John's ministry.

The second fruit of John's ministry was, that the people were ready to receive at his hand the sacrament of baptism: They were all baptised of him in Jordan.

Learn hence, That the ministers of Christ ought not only to preach the word, but also to dispense the sacraments to their people, even to all that do desire them, and are fit to be partakers of them.

A third fruit of John's ministry was, his hearers' profession of repentance is requisite in all that are baptized, so a free and voluntary, and ingenuous and impartial, confession of sin, is a good evidence and testimony of the truth and sincerity of our repentance.


Verse 6

This verse acquaints us with the strictness and austerity of St. John's life in the wilderness; which is laid down in two things; in his mean and frugal apparel, and in his sober and temperate diet.

His apparel was rough and hairy, and his girdle of leather; as Elijah his forerunner was clad before him, 2 Kings 1:8.

His diet was coarse and ordinary, locusts and wild honey; that is, such plain and ordinary food as the wilderness afforded.

His example teaches us, That the ministers of the gospel are not to effect either bravery in apparel, or delicacy in diet; but both by their habit and diet set an example of gravity and sobriety before their people; being in these, as well as in other things, an example unto their flocks.


Verse 7

Observe here, 1. The high opinion that the Baptist had of Christ. He is mightier than I that is, a Person of greater dignity and excellency by far than myself: whence may be gathered, that though Christ was Man, he was not mere man, but more than man: even very God, equal with his Father; for John Baptist was the greatest of them that were born of woman, Matthew 11:11 yet, says he, Christ is mightier and greater than I. How so, but in regard to the dignity of his person, being both God and Man in two distinct natures and one person.

Observe, 2. The humble and low estimation that the Baptist had of himself; His shoe latchet I am not worthy to unloose: a proverbial speech, implying that he was unworthy to do the basest and meanest service for Christ. O how well doth humility of mind, an humble apprehension, a low esteem and opinion of themselves and their own gifts and abilities, become the messengers and ministers of Christ! John was a man of eminent abilities, yet of exemplary humility; he thought himself unworthy to unloose Christ's shoe, or do the meanest office for him.


Verse 8

John showed the dignity of Christ's person above his own, in the former verse; in this he declares the excellency of Christ's office, and the meanness of his own; I wash the body with water, but Christ cleanses the soul by the operation of his Holy Spirit.

Thence learn, That though the ministers of Christ do by Christ's command dispense the outward ordinance of baptism, yet it is Christ himself, that by the inward work of his Spirit doth make it effectual to such as receive it. I baptize with water; but he with the Holy Ghost.


Verse 9

See the note on Matthew 3:13.

Observe here, 1. The great condescension of Christ, in seeking and submitting to the baptism of John: Christ, though he was John's Lord and Master, yea, Lord of heaven and earth, yet cometh to hear John preach, and will be baptized of his messenger.

Thence learn, That the greatest persons should neither think themselves too great, nor too good, to come unto the ministers of God, to hear the word from their mouth, or to receive the sacrament at their hand. Christ the Son of God was content to be baptized of John, a mean person in comparsion of himself. How dare then the greatest upon earth despise the ministry of man, being appointed by God?

Observe, 2. The solemn investing of Christ with the office of Mediator, by a threefold miracle; namely, the opening of the heavens, the descent of the Holy Ghost, and God the Father's voice or testimony concerning his Son; the heavens were opened, to show, that heaven, which was closed and shut against us for our sins, is now opened to us by Christ's undertaking for us. As Christ opened heaven by his meritorious passion, so he keeps it open by his prevailing intercession.

Next, the Holy Ghost descends like a dove upon our Saviour. Here we have a proof and evidence of the Blessed Trinity. The Father speaks from heaven, the Son comes out of the water, and the Holy Ghost descends in the likeness of a dove. But why did the Holy Ghost now descend upon Christ?

First, for the designation of his person, to show that he was the Person set apart for his word and office of a mediator.

Secondly, for the sanctification of his person for the performance of that office. This was Christ's unction, the day on which he was anointed above his fellows to be the King, Priest, and Prophet, of his church: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, he hath anointed me, Isaiah 61:1, &c.

Observe, 3. the voice of God the Father pronounced,

(1.) The nearness of Christ's relation to himself: This is my Son.

(2.) The endearedness of his person: This is my beloved Son.

(3.) The fruit and benefit of his near and dear relation unto us: In whom I am well pleased.

Hence learn, That there is no possibility for a person to please God out of Christ; neither our persons nor our performances can find acceptance but through him, and for his sake;--that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Ground and Cause of all that love which God the Father showeth to the sons of men. In Christ, God is well pleased with us, as a reconciled Father; out of him, a consuming Fire.


Verse 12

Immediately, That is, 1. After his baptism. Christ is no sooner out of the water of baptism, but he is in the fire of temptation: such as are baptized with Christ, and entered into the profession of christianity, must look to be assaulted with Satan's temptations.

Again, immediately, that is, 2. After the Father had declared his complacency in him, and being well pleased with him.

Learn thence, That great manifestations of love from God are usually followed with great temptations from God. The Spirit driveth him, that is, the Holy Spirit of God. For the devil is seldom, if ever, called the Spirit, but usually some brand of reproach is annexed, as the evil spirit, or the unclean spirit and the like.

Christ was led by the Spirit, says Matthew 4:1. He was driven by the Spirit, says St. Mark; that is, he was carried by a strong impulse of the Spirit of God to be tempted by Satan, and did not go of his own private motion to enter the lists with Satan. Teaching us our duty, not to run into or rush upon temptations, without a warrant and call from God.

Observe next, The place where Satan assaulted Christ with his temptations: it was a solitary wilderness. No place can privilege us from temptations, or be a sanctuary from Satan's assaults. The solitary wilderness has a tempter in it: yea, Satan oftentimes makes use of men's solitariness to further his temptations; and such as separate themselves from human society, and give themselves up to solitude and retirement, give great advantage to the tempter to tempt them.

Observe next, the time and continuance of our holy Lord's temptations; not for an hour, a day, a week, or a month, but for forty days and forty nights; not all the time, but very often in that time. Teaching us what we are to expect from Satan; temptations not a few; he will not solicit us once, but often to resist him.

Observe farther, A special aggravation of our Lord's temptations in the wilderness. He was with the wild beasts, having no comfort from man, but only wild beasts for his companions, which were more likely to annoy and hurt him, than any way to help and comfort him. Here we have an evidence of the divine power of Christ; who, as Lord of the creatures, can alter and change the nature of the creature at his pleasure; restraining the most savage and hurtful beasts from hurting either himself or any of his people.

Observe lastly, The supply sent in to Christ in the hour of temptation: The angels came and ministered unto him; food to his hungry body, and comfort to his tempted soul.

Learn thence, that those who in the hour of temptation do hold out in resisting Satan, shall find that the power and faithfulness of God will not be wanting to them to send in succour and relief at last; Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.


Verse 14

In this our Saviour's first beginning to preach the gospel, we have an account of the time when, the place where, and the sum of what, he preached.

Observe, 1. The time when our Lord began to preach, and that was after John the Baptist was cast into prison,

Where note, 1. The undue reward which the ministers of God do sometimes meet with from a wicked world; they are hated, persecuted, and imprisoned, for their courage in reproving sin: John for reproving Herod's incest was put in prison.

Note, 2. John was no sooner in prison, and stopped and hindered from preaching, but Christ began to preach. See the care and kindness of God towards his church, in that he never leaves it wholly destitute of the means of instruction: when some of his faithful ministers are restrained from preaching, he stirreth up others in their room, not suffering all their mouths to be stopped at once.

Observe, 2. The place where our Lord first preached, in Galilee. The land of Canaan, in our Saviour's time, was divided into three principal provinces: on the south, Judea; on the north, Galilee; in the midst, Samaria.

Galilee was divided into the upper and lower Galilee; the higher was called Galilee of the Gentiles, because it was the utmost part of the land, and so next unto the Gentiles. In this upper Galilee, Capernaum was the metropolis, or chief; and Chorazin a lesser city.

Now much of our Saviour's time was spent in Galilee; he was conceived and brought up at Nazareth, a city in Galilee; he first preached at Capernaum in Galilee; he wrought his first miracle at Cana in Galilee; his transfiguration was upon mount Tabor in Galilee; and our Saviour's ordinary residence was in Galilee. He came into Judea, and up to Jerusalem, only at the feasts: and after his resurrection he appoints his disciples to meet him in Galilee. Only his nativity, his passion, and ascension, were proper to Judea. His nativity at Bethlehem, his passion at Jerusalem,and his ascension upon mount Olivet, hard by Jerusalem.

Now all this demonstrates Christ to be the true and promised Messias; for according to prophecy, the Messias was to have his presence and principal abode in the province of Galilee, Isaiah 9:1-3, &c. Yet because he was of Galilee, the Jews would not believe him to be the Messiah, saying in scorn, Can any good thing come out of Galilee? Whereas our Saviour's habitation and free conversation there, was a proof unto them, and ought to have persuaded them, that according to the prophecy he was the very Christ.

Observe, 3. The sum of what our Lord preached, namely, a doctrine, and an exhortation. His doctrine is, That the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; that is, that the time foretold by the prophets, when the kingdom of the Messiah should begin, was now come. The exhortation is, Therefore repent, and believe the gospel.

From the former note, That the Messiah's coming, or our Saviour's appearing in the flesh, was exactly at the time foretold by the holy prophets: The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of the Messiah is at hand.

Note, 2. That the great doctrines of repentance and faith are taught only in and by the gospel, and accordingly ought in a special manner to be preached and insisted upon by the ministers of the gospel. The doctrine of Christ, and his ambassadors, is and ought to be the same; they both teach the great doctrines of faith and repentance to a lost world: Repent, and believe the gospel.


Verse 16

In this history of our Saviour's calling the four disciples, Peter and Andrew, James and John, observe these particulars. 1. The meanness of the persons whom he calls, illiterate fishermen: Christ took hereby effectual care that his gospel should be known to be the power of God, and not the wisdom and device of man; and that the instruments should not carry away the glory of the work.

Observe, 2. Christ called his apostles by couples, two and two; first Peter and Andrew, then James and John: thereby signifying to us, that the work of the ministry requires the concurrence of all hands that are called to it. All the ministers of God should join their hearts and hands, and set their shoulders as on man to this great work; and all little enough, God knows, to carry it on with advantage and success.

Observe, 3. The work which they are called from, and called to: from being fishermen, to be fishers of men; from catching fish with the labour of their tongues.

Observe, 4. Our Saviour's command, first to follow him, before they be sent out by him: Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. We must be Christ's disciples before we are his ministers; his followers, before we are his ambassadors: we must learn Christ before we preach him; otherwise we may fish for a livelihood, but not for souls.

Observe, 5. The gracious promise which Christ gives his apostles for their encouragement; namely, to qualify them for, and to succeed them in, their office: I will make you fishers of men. Faithfulness and care, diligence and endeavour, is our part; but the blessing and success is Christ's: our labour is only in the cast; Christ's power is wholly in the draught.

Some fish cleave to the rocks, others play upon the sands, more wallow in mud; and verily we shall labour all our days and catch nothing, if Christ do not bring our fish to the net, and enclose them in it, as well as asist us in the throwing and casting of it.

Observe, 6. The apostles' ready compliance with our Saviour's call. Straightway they forsook their father and friends, ship and nets, and followed Jesus. Whom Christ calls, he calls effectually: and draws whom he calls and works their hearts to a ready compliance with their duty.

Observe, 7. That upon their call to the ministry they leave off their trade, they forsake their ship and nets, and lie close to their ministerial employment. Teaching us, That the ministers of the gospel should wholly give themselves up to their great work, and not encumber themselves with secular affairs and worldly business. Nothing but an indispensable necessity, in providing for a family, can excuse a minister's incumbering himself with worldly concerns and business.


Verse 21

Our Saviour having called his disciples, Peter and Andrew, James and John, to follow him, in order to their preaching of the gospel; here we may observe how he went himself along with them, teaching personally in the synagogues wherever he came: he did not send his apostles forth as his curates, and lie at home himself upon his couch of ease. What shall we say to those lazy fishermen that set others to the drag, but care only to feed themselves with the fish; not willing to wet their hands with the net, or take any pains themselves? Our Saviour did not thus; but when he sent forth his apostles, he still preached himself: he went into their synagogues and taught.

Observe farther, the success of his preaching; the people were astonished at his doctrine, struck with admiration, apprehending and believing him to be an extraordinary prophet sent from God.

Learn thence, That such is the efficacy of Christ's doctrine, especially when accompanied with the energy and operation of his Holy Spirit, that it makes all his auditors admirers; causing astonishment in their minds, and reformation in their manners.

Observe lastly, the reason of our Lord's success in preaching: He taught as one having authority. He taught in his own name, as being Lord of his doctrine; not saying with the prophets, Thus saith the Lord: but I say unto you. And he wrought powerful miracles, which accompanied his doctrine. As Christ was careful to preserve the authority of his person and doctrine with the people; so is it the duty of his ministers to demean themselves amongst their people, that neither their authority may be contemned, nor their persons despised, but their doctrine and themselves reverenced and obeyed. Our Saviour having called his disciples, Peter and Andrew, James and John, to follow him, in order to their preaching of the gospel; here we may observe how he went himself along with them, teaching personally in the synagogues wherever he came: he did not send his apostles forth as his curates, and lie at home himself upon his couch of ease. What shall we say to those lazy fishermen that set others to the drag, but care only to feed themselves with the fish; not willing to wet their hands with the net, or take any pains themselves? Our Saviour did not thus; but when he sent forth his apostles, he still preached himself: he went into their synagogues and taught.

Observe farther, the success of his preaching; the people were astonished at his doctrine, struck with admiration, apprehending and believing him to be an extraordinary prophet sent from God.

Learn thence, That such is the efficacy of Christ's doctrine, especially when accompanied with the energy and operation of his Holy Spirit, that it makes all his auditors admirers; causing astonishment in their minds, and reformation in their manners.

Observe lastly, the reason of our Lord's success in preaching: He taught as one having authority. He taught in his own name, as being Lord of his doctrine; not saying with the prophets, Thus saith the Lord: but I say unto you. And he wrought powerful miracles, which accompanied his doctrine. As Christ was careful to preserve the authority of his person and doctrine with the people; so is it the duty of his ministers to demean themselves amongst their people, that neither their authority may be contemned, nor their persons despised, but their doctrine and themselves reverenced and obeyed.


Verse 23

St. Mark having given an account of our Saviour's doctrine which he preached, verse 15, namely, the doctrine of faith and repentance, he now acquaints us in the remaining part of this chapter with the miracles which he wrought for the confirming of his doctrine, and they are three.

First, The casting of a devil out of one possessed, verse 23.

Secondly, The curing of Peter's wife's mother of a fever, verse 29.

Thirdly, The cleansing of the leper, from verse 40, to the end of the chapter.

His first miracle was the casting of a devil out of one possessed. There was a man with an unclean spirit; That is, an unclean spirit did enter into him, and bodily possess him. Amongst the many calamities which sin has brought upon our bodies, this is one, that we are liable to be bodily possessed by Satan. The devil has an inveterate malice against mankind, seeking to ruin our souls by his suggestions and temptations, and to destroy our bodies by some means or other: but, blessed be God, though his malice be infinite, yet his power is limited and bounded; as he cannot do all he can.

O how much is it our interest, as well as our duty, by prayer to put ourselves morning and evening under the divine protection, that we may be preserved from the power and malice of evil spirits!

Observe, 2. The attribute or title given to the devil, he is called an unclean spirit. The devils, those wicked spirits of hell, are most impure and filthy creatures; impure by means of their original apostasy; impure by means of their actual and daily sins, such as murder, malice, lying, and the like, by which they continually pollute themselves; impure by means of their continual desire and endeavour to pollute mankind with the contagion of their own sin. Lord, how foul is the nature of sin, which makes the devil such a foul and unclean creature!

Observe, 3. This unclean spirit no sooner saw Christ, but he cried out.

Whence note, That the greatness of Christ's power (being the Son of God) over devils and wicked spirits is such, that it is very terrible and tormenting to them; it was terrible to them in his state of humiliation on earth, and made them cry out. But oh, how terrible will his power be to them at the great day, when Christ shall come in flaming fire, to render vengenance both to men and devils!

Observe, 4. The substance of the devil's outcry; Let us alone, what have we to do with thee? Art thou come to destroy us?

Where note, that though the devils are now as full of sin and discontent as they can be, yet are they not so full of misery and torment as they shall be. Art thou come to torment us before the time? says St. Matthew. Matthew 8:29 and Art thou come to destroy us? says St. Mark: that is to bring upon us our full and final destruction.

Implying, that the devil has not yet his full judgment and complete damnation. Therefore there is certainly a day of judgment to come, and the devils are in chains of darkness, reserved to the judgment of that great day. But some by these words, Art thou come to destroy us? understand as much as, "Art thou come to restrain us from the exercise of our power?"

Learn we thence, That the devil thinks himself destroyed when he is restrained from doing mischief.

Observe, 5. The title which the devil put upon our Saviour; Jesus of Nazareth, the Holy One of God. Although there was ground for the common people's calling Christ, Jesus of Nazareth, because he was bred and brought up there, and lived there during his private life, till about thirty years of age; though he was not born there, but at Bethlehem; yet it is conceived that the devil gave this title to our Saviour in policy, to disguise the place of Christ's nativity, that so the Jews might not believe him to be the true Messiah, because he was of Nazareth, whereas the Messiah was to come out of Bethlehem, but Jesus of Nazareth. But how comes the next title out of the devil's mouth; The Holy One of God? Could an apostle, could Peter himself, make a profession beyond this? But how comes the devil to make it? For no good end or purpose, we may be sure; for he never speaks truth for truth's sake, but for advantage.

Probably, (1.) He made this profession, that so he might bring the truth professes into suspicion, hoping that a truth which received testimony from the father of lies would be suspected.

(2.) It might perhaps be done that the people might believe that our Saviour had some familiarity with Satan, and did work miracles by his help, because he did confess him, and seem so much to honour him.

From this instance and example learn, That it is possible for a person to own and acknowledge Christ to be the true and only Saviour, and yet to miss of salvation by him. If a speculative knowledge, and a verbal profession, of Christ, were sufficient to salvation, the devil himself would not miss of happiness.

Observe, 6. How our Saviour rebukes the devil for his confession, and commands him silence; And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace. But why was this rebuke given the devil when he spake the truth?

Ans. 1. Because Christ knew that the devil confessed this truth on purpose to disgrace the truth.

2. Because the devil was not fit person to make this profession. A testimony of truth from the father of lies is enough to render truth itself suspected. Yet the devil's evidence, that Christ was the holy One of God, will rise up in judgment against the wicked Pharisees, who shut their eyes against the miracles, and stop their ears against the doctrine, of the Holy One of God.

Observe lastly, How the unclean spirit obeys the voice of Christ, though with great reluctance and regret. When the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out. Christ is Lord over the wicked angels, and has an absolute power and authority to overrule them, and command them at his pleasure; if Christ says to the evil spirit, Come out, out he must come.

Yet observe the devil's spite at parting, he tears the man, tortures his body, throws him violently from place to place, showing how loth he was to be dispossessed. Where Satan has once gotten an hold, and settled himself for a time, how unwilling is he to be cast out of possession! yea, it is a torture and vexation to him to be cast out: it is much easier to keep him out than to cast him out. Satan may possess the body by God's permission, but he cannot possess our hearts without our own consent and approgbation: it will be our wisdom to deny him entrance into our souls at first, by rejecting his wicked motions and suggestions; for when once entered, he will, like the strong man armed, keep the house till a stronger than he casts him out.


Verse 28

The second miracle which our Saviour wrought in this chapter, to confirm the truth and authority of his doctrine was his raising up of Peter's wife's mother from her bed of sickness.

Where note, 1. that St. Peter, now a disciple, and afterwards an apostle, was a married person. Neither the prophets of the Old Testament, nor the ministers of the New, did abhor the marriage-bed, nor think themselves too pure for an institution of their Maker. The church of Rome, by denying the lawfulness of priests' marriage, makes herself wiser than God, who says, Marriage is honourable amongst all men. Hebrews 13:4.

Observe, 2. Peter, though a good man, and his wife's mother probably a gracious woman, yet is his family visited with sickness; strength of grace, and dearness of respect even from Christ himself, cannot prevail against diseases. God's own children are visited with bodily sickness as well as others.

Observe, 3. The charitable care of St. Peter, and the other disciples, forthwith to acquaint Christ with the condition of this sick person, Anon they tell him of her. The care of our fellow-christians, especially when of the number of our near and dear relations, in a time of sickness, is not to be deferred or delayed. Outward help for their bodies, and the spiritual help of our prayers for their souls, are both straightway to be afforded them.

Observe, 4. Christ's divine power manifested in this miraculous cure: He no sooner took her by the hand but the fever left her. The miracle was not in curing an incurable distemper, but in curing an ordinary distemper after a miraculous manner; namely,

1. By a touch of the hand.

2. The recovery was instantaneous and sudden: Immediately the fever left her.

3. The visible effects of her recovery instantly appeared: She arose and ministered unto Christ and his disciples.

That she could arise, argued her cure miraculous; that she did arise, and did minister to Christ, argued her thankfulness.

Learn thence, That after Christ hath graciously healed any of us, it ought to be our first work and care to administer unto Christ; that is, to employ our recovered health in the service of Christ, and to improve our renewed strength to the honour and glory of Christ.


Verse 32

The evangelist here declares sundry other miracles wrought by our Saviour before the door of St. Peter's house, where he now was; he healed all the diseased that were brought unto him, and cast devils out of them that were possessed with them.

But how comes it to pass, that we read of so many possessed with devils in our Saviour's time, and so few either before or since?

Ans. 1. Probably Satan, perceiving that the Messiah was come in the flesh to destroy his kingdom, did rage the more, and discover great malice and enmity against mankind.

2. Perhaps Almighty God permitted Satan at that time to possess so many, that Christ might have occasion to manifest his divine power by casting Satan out: and accordingly we find our Saviour dispossessing all that were possessed by Satan.

It is added, that he suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. That is, Christ would not be made known to be the Son of God by the preaching of the devil, to whom it belonged not to publish the gospel, lest the world should take from thence an occasion to think that our Saviour held a correspondence with those wicked spirits, and that the miracles he wrought were performed by the devil's assistance, as being one in combination with him. Possibly the devil's owning Christ to be the Holy One of God, the Pharisees concluded that there was a compact and agreement betwixt them, and thereupon their affirmation was grounded, He casteth out devils by Beelzebub, &c.


Verse 35

Observe here, 1. The duty performed by our Saviour, Namely, prayer, solitary and private prayer. He went by himself alone, out of the hearing of his disciples. The company of our best friends is not always seasonable, nor acceptable; there are times and cases when a Christian would not be willing that his dearest relations upon earth should hear that conversation which passes betwixt him and his God.

Observe, 2. Christ chooses the opportunity of the morning for prayer, he rises a great while before day to set about this work. Teaching us, that the morning is a fit season, yea, the best season, for private duties: now our spirits are freshest and our minds freest, before the distractions of the day break in upon us. It is better to go from prayer to business, than from business to prayer.


Verse 36

Observe here two things: First, the great end of Christ in his incarnation and coming into the world, namely, as a Prophet sent from God to reveal his will, and to publish the doctrine of the gospel. Therefore came I forth; that is, to preach and plant the gospel.

Secondly, It being Christ's design not only to plant but to propagate the gospel, he would not confine his ministry to any particular places, no, not to the great city of Capernaum, but resolves to preach the word in the smallest towns and villages. Leaving his ministers herein an instructive example, to be as willing to preach the gospel in the smallest villages, as in the largest cities, if God calls them thereunto.

Let the place be never so obscure and mean, and the congregation never so small and little, if God sends us thither, the greatest of us must not think it beneath us to go and instruct a handful of people.


Verse 40

The last miracle of our Saviour's recorded in this chapter, is the healing of a leper; he came, beseeching Christ to heal him, saying, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.

Where observe, 1. He doth not question Christ's power, but distrusts Christ's willingness to heal him; Lord if thou wilt, thou canst. Christ's divine power must be fully assented to, and firmly believed, by all those that expect benefit by him, and healing from him.

Observe, 2. The great readiness of Christ to help and heal this distressed person. Jesus touched him, saying, I will, be thou clean.

By the ceremonial law, the leper was forbidden to be touched, therefore Christ's touching the leper showed him to be above the law, and that he was the Lord of it, and might dispense with it; and his healing the leper by the word of his mouth, and touch of his hand, showed him to be truly and really God. Leprosy among the Jews was an incurable distemper, called the finger of God, a disease of his sending, and of his removing.

Our Saviour therefore, as a proof of his being the true Messiah, tells John's disciples, that the lepers were cleansed, and the dead raised Matthew 11:5 by him; which two being joined together, do imply, that the cleansing of lepers is as much an act of divine power as the raising of the dead.

And accordingly, it is said, Am I God, that this man sends to me to cure a man of his leprosy? 2 Kings 5:7

Observe, 3. The certainty and suddenness of the cure was a proof of Christ's divine power; immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Christ not only cured him without means, but without the ordinary time required for such a cure. Thus Christ showed both power and will to cure him miraculously, who believed his power, but questioned his willingness.

Observe, 4. The cause, moving our Saviour to cure this leper; his bowels were moved with tender pity and compassion towards him. Christ's exercising acts of mercy and compassion, with such condolency and sympathizing pity, should by way of example teach us to be inwardly moved with tender compassion and mercy towards such as are in misery. We are not only to draw out our bread, but to draw out our soul, to the hungry.

Observe, 5. A twofold charge and command given by Christ to the leper after his cure.

First, to conceal and tell it to no man. Where the great modesty, humility, and piety, of Christ, is discovered, together with the care of his own safety. His modesty, in not desiring his good deeds should be published and proclaimed; his humility, in shunning vain-glorious applause and commendation; his piety, in desiring all honour and glory should redound entirely to God. And the care of his own safety appeared, lest the publishing of his miracles should create him untimely danger from the Pharisees.

The second part of the charge given to the recovered leper, was to show himself to the priest, and offer the gift which Moses commanded for a testimony unto them; that is, to testify to the Jews, that he did not oppose the ceremonial law, which required a thank-offering at his hand, and that he was the true and promised Messiah.

Learn thence, That our Saviour would have the ceremonial law punctually observed so long as the time for its continuance did endure; though he came to destroy that law, yet, whilst it stood, he would have it punctually observed.

Observe, 6. Notwithstanding our Saviour's strict prohibition, the leper publishes the fame of this miracle. It is likely his intention might be good, in extolling his great Benefactor; but his acting contrary to Christ's command was a fault, and shows the corruption of human nature, in being most forward to that which is most forbidden. It is a sin to do any thing against the command of Christ, though with never so good a meaning, purpose, and intention, to exalt and honour Christ.

Observe lastly, The inconveniences which attended our Saviour upon this indiscreet publication of the miracle; and they were two:

1. Our Saviour could no more enter into Capernaum, and other cities, to preach in an open manner, as he had done, by reason of the great concourse of people after him.

2. The fame of this miracle brought the people about him from all quarters; not so much to hear as to see; not so much to hear his holy and heavenly doctrine which he taught, as to gratify their curiosity with the sight of the miracles which he wrought.

O how many thronged after Christ, more to have their bodily diseases cured, than their souls healed! Christ desired not their flocking after him upon this account; therefore he retires from the breath of popular applause: he would not openly enter into the city, but was without in desert places. O how great humility! How little did our blessed Redeemer regard the applause and commendation of men!

Constantly we find him, as soon as his public preaching and working of miracles was over, withdrawing himself from the multitude into some private place apart: he doth not stay in the crowd with his ear open to listen how men admire the preacher, and applaud the sermon. Plainly showing, that he sought his Father's glory, not his own praise or the people's commendation; leaving his example as an instructive pattern to all his ministers and ambassadors, to take heed of vain-glory; not to affect popularity, or to seek the applause and commendation of men in what they do, resolving that man's opinion shall be nothing with them, but that the pleasing of God, and doing their duty to the souls of their people, shall always be their whole scope.

 


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on Mark 1:4". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/mark-1.html. 1700-1703.


Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, May 27th, 2017
the Sixth Week after Easter
Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
ADVERTISEMENT
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology