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Mark 1:13, 7, 913, 2128comment (0)

September 3, 2009

By Michael Wilson

Related Scripture: Mark 1:13, 7, 913, 2128

Bible Studies for Life
Director, Resource Center for Pastoral Excellence, Samford University

Mark 1:1–3, 7, 9–13, 21–28

The phone call came on a Monday morning after a very busy Sunday. A resident of a nearby assisted-living facility called to speak with me. Though she told me her name and talked as if we had known each other for years, I had no idea who she was. She was convinced I had been one of her pastors many years earlier. Though I apologized and acknowledged I could not remember her, she knew enough about me that I began to think my faltering Monday morning memory needed a prompt to help me recall her. My curiosity having been piqued, I arranged a visit at her apartment. When we met, I still had absolutely no idea who she was — though she remained convinced about me.
Many people believe that knowing who Jesus is means they know Him. This is an unfortunate assumption common these days. This week’s lesson invites us to consider the Jesus presented in Mark’s Gospel. Though his knowledge came mostly through the testimony of others, Mark clearly knew Jesus.

Know the Unique Son of God (1–3)
The first three verses of the Gospel introduce readers to Jesus. In clear and succinct words, Mark made three significant declarations about our Lord. Though relatively common at the time, the name Jesus, meaning “Yahweh is salvation,” was unique when considered in the light of His life, death and resurrection. Indeed Jesus alone would “save His people from their sins.”

Mark identified Jesus as the Christ. This word is a Greek translation of the Hebrew word for messiah, meaning “anointed one,” the One who would, with authority, inaugurate God’s Kingdom on earth. To reinforce these declarations, Mark used the words of the great prophet Isaiah. These familiar words would immediately call to mind the remainder of the prophecy: “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God … the glory of the Lord will be revealed.” The arrival of Jesus, the Christ — God’s unique Son, truly was the beginning of good news for all people.

Know the Power of Jesus (7, 9–13)
Mark recalled the words of John the Baptizer, whose powerful, convincing message of repentance had resulted in a significant following. By detailing the clothing John wore and his choice of food, Mark identified him with Elijah and other great prophets who dressed and ate in a similar way. These were people well known by the Jews. John, now associated with a long respected prophetic lineage, declared his unworthiness even to act as a slave before the One who would follow him. By these words, God communicated that Jesus would be a person of authority, deserving of attention and respect: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” What greater affirmation of Jesus’ worthiness to be followed than the Father’s own words.

Know Jesus’ Authority (21–28)
Capernaum was a significant city in Galilee and became home base for much of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus practiced a routine of attending synagogue worship, which demonstrated His deep identification with the religious heritage and practices of the Jewish people. What distinguished Him from other frequent worshipers at synagogue was the manner in which He interacted with the authorities of Jewish faith and practice. Rather than merely recite familiar texts from the Law or prophetic writings, Jesus both recited and offered interpretation of these significant texts as if He were speaking in a manner inspired by the spirit of God. This astounded the well-educated scribes and teachers of the Law because Jesus was an uneducated peasant. Mark further affirmed Jesus’ authority by including the incident of a tormented man and the unclean spirit rebuked and sent away at His command. It should come as no surprise that Mark noted news of His teachings and actions spread throughout Galilee.

Mark would have his readers know that the “good news” of God’s redemptive work among people began in a new, more personal and direct way through Jesus. By knowing Jesus, we truly experience good news in our lives.

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