Study Notes

Mark 1:1-45

1:1 The Beginning of the Gospel

The beginning belongs at the beginning. The beginning of Genesis speaks of the beginning of creation, so the Word says,

Gen. 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The beginning of John speaks of the beginning before creation, before time, before you could ever imagine.

John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

But the beginning of Mark begins with the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The word gospel means "good news." And the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ is not Christmas. It is the message of John the Baptist: Repentance.

Repentance means to change your thinking, turn, and go the other way. And that is always the first step towards salvation: when you come to the conclusion, "I'm a sinner, and I need a Savior."

Preaching repentance isn't popular in the American church anymore. Most people like to preach "Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." But the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ is not, "Wouldn't you like to go to heaven?" It is, "You have sinned."

John the Baptist preached repentance. Jesus preached repentance:

Matt. 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

The disciples preached repentance:

Mark 6:12 And they went out and preached that men should repent.

Peter wrote,

2Pet. 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

God wants all to come to repentance. So we need to be faithful to preach repentance. Every person is a sinner who needs a Savior.

1:2-3 I Send My Messenger

Isaiah wrote of this messenger in Isa 40:3...

Isa. 40:3 A voice is calling, Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.

And while Mark says that Isaiah wrote of it, he also clarifies the message by quoting the prophet Malachi as well:

Mal. 3:1 "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me...

The voice crying in the wilderness was not sobbing, it was shouting.

1:4-8 John's Appearance

Luke tells us that John the Baptist's mission and message of repentance was,

Luke 1:17 make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

Preaching repentance prepares people for a Savior who can forgive their sins.

John's appearance and attitude show us that he was in no way conformed to the world. He didn't eat delicious dinners or wear comfortable clothing. The book of Romans tells us,

Rom. 12:1-2 I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, {which is} your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

You shouldn't be conformed to this world. You should be a non-conformist. But that doesn't mean making your appearance so outlandish with dyes and body piercing. In fact, that is conforming to the non-conformist world. A non-conformity of righteousness is not to conform to the attitudes and practices of the world.

All the world's watching cable TV and rated R movies. All the world's talking about and focusing on sex and immorality. All the world is becoming accepting and tolerant of sin. So be a non-conformist and reject these things for righteousness.

John's Preaching

John was getting quite a following - everyone was coming out to hear him preach. But he didn't preach himself - he preached Jesus Christ.

1:9 Jesus' Baptism

We know that Jesus Christ was sinless. The Bible tells us that He...

Hebr. 4:15 ...has been tempted in all things as {we are, yet} without sin.


1John 3:5 And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin.

2Cor. 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin {to be} sin on our behalf

So many people ask, "Why did Jesus have to be baptized?" We find the answer to that in the gospel of Matthew:

Matt. 3:13-15 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan {coming} to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?" But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit {it} at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.

There has been a controversy raging in the church for hundreds of years. "Does a believer have to be baptized to be saved?" On one side, there are people who say, "Absolutely, yes!" They quote Mark 16:

Mark 16:16 "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.

On the other side, there are the people who say that baptism is a work, and we are saved by faith, not by works. They quote the apostle Paul in 1Corinthians 1 when he said:

1Cor. 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel

I personally fall into the second category, that we are saved by our faith, not by our works. But I do believe that refusing to be baptized after becoming a believer is a sin, because Jesus commanded us to.

But after saying that, now I'm going to make a controversial statement: "I believe that for someone to be saved, there absolutely has to be a baptism." That's right, for someone to be saved, there absolutely has to be a baptism."

Fortunately for the thief on the cross, and the thousands of people who have had deathbed conversions, there has been a baptism. Jesus' baptism. He was baptized, not for His own sin, but for the sin of others. He was baptized by John to "fulfill all righteousness".

1:10-11 The Trinity

We see separately the Son of God in the water, the Spirit of God descending upon Him, and the Voice of God the Father speaking from heaven.

One of the great mysteries of God is His Triune nature. The Bible says conclusively three things: There is one God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all God. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are not the same person. Put that information into a computer to analyze it, and it will crash.

And there is no way for me to ever explain the Trinity to you because we have finite minds that cannot possibly comprehend an infinite God. But I can tell you this: John wrote,

1John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.

One day, we shall see Him just as He is, and then we will understand.

1:12-13 Led By The Spirit

Jesus goes into the desert and is tempted for forty days.

It's hard for us to believe that God is directing the difficult times. Those wilderness experiences we experience where there's temptation at every turn, and we're starving and dehydrated. But Luke tells us that Jesus was

Luke 4:1 ...led about by the Spirit in the wilderness

God is in control, no matter how difficult it seems. You may not see His hand at work in the middle of your difficulty, but trust with faith that He is directing your steps.

1:14-15 Repent And Believe In The Gospel

John gets arrested for preaching against Herod's immorality, and Jesus comes to Galilee preaching (you guessed it) repentance.

1:16-20 Follow Me

Here Jesus calls two sets of brothers, saying "follow me." Jesus is still saying "follow me" today. Calling people to leave the comfort of their money making ventures, of the acceptance of their families, of the familiarity of their surroundings, and to follow Him.

1:21-22 Teaching With Authority

Back then, the rabbis taught by quoting rabbis that came before them. Jesus didn't teach from others' textbooks. He would open the Scriptures, read them, and expound on them, like one who actually knew God. This was unheard of! The Lord calls us to do the same thing today. Acts 17:11 tells us,

Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so.

They didn't listen to what Paul said and then ask another teacher if it was true. They searched the Scriptures personally to see if it was true.

1:23-28 Casting Out A Demon

Demons have been written off by the scholars of today as mere mental illness. But the Bible is very specific about the existence these malevolent creatures of the spirit world. We will find as we go through the Scriptures that they are very real, and have knowledge that no one on earth possessed at the time. Here, for example, the demon knew that Jesus Christ was the Holy One of God. No one on earth yet knew, but the demon did. The book of Ephesians tells us,

Eph. 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Demons are very, very real.

Matt. 12:43-45 "Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes, and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first..."

So the only protection against possession that I have found in the Scriptures is to be occupied - to have the Holy Spirit living inside of you. That can only happen by being saved.

1:29-38 I Came To Preach

The crowds were getting huge. Not because of His teaching with authority, but because of the miracles. We're going to see that miracles do not produce a lasting faith. Faith only comes from one place:

Rom. 10:17 ...Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

So Jesus says, "Let's get out of here and go somewhere else. Preaching is what I came for."

1:39-42 A Leper Healed

In His mercy, love, and compassion, Jesus couldn't help but minister to the sick, possessed, and hurting. He continued to heal and deliver people while He preached.

When a leper approached Him, he made a statement more doctrinally accurate than the majority of preachers understand today: "If you are WILLING, You can make me clean."

Many in the church today tell you to approach Jesus and demand your healing because you deserve it. They tell you to claim your healing because God owes it to you. They tell you to say you've been healed and the positive confession will make it happen. God is not your slave or your genie. He is to be approached with confidence, yet with reverence. With faith, but also with fear. And whenever we pray, we must be submitted to the Lord's will, not ours.

1:43-45 The News Is Spread

Not wanting the crowds to be swarming in because of the miracles, Jesus tells him to tell no one. Of course, He did tell him to obey the Law of God in regards to the priest proclaiming him clean (Lev. 14), but He said to tell no one else.

But the leper did the opposite. Interesting to me is the fact that when Jesus tells people to say nothing, they go and tell everybody. Now that Jesus has told us to go and tell everybody, we tell no one.

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