Title: The Work of the Master: the start of his ministry
Text: Mark 1.16-45
Introduction: We’re in Mark 1.16-45; repeat; let me begin with some context; we began last week with an introduction to Mark; in the opening section…
- The opening section (1.1-15) gives us the witnesses to who Jesus really is:
- Isaiah (The Prophets)
- God – The Holy Spirit, the Father: here we see the Trinity
- Satan, Angels, wild animals
- What we’ll see in this 2nd section is the start of his ministry where his popularity grows so quickly that he is forced to the desolate places away from people. But that doesn’t matter – people go out looking for him to meet their needs. His ministry demonstrates his incredible authority: preaching, teaching, and healing – all with an authority not seen in their religious leaders.
- In chapter two, we’ll see the religious leaders begin to question him about what he’s doing and by what authority he preaches and teaches and even heals. This angst within the religious leaders climaxes with their plot to destroy him in 3.6: 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him.
Our Goal: We’re looking at the big picture of each section. We could pick each story and dig deep, but that isn’t our goal. I want you to see that Mark has organized himself, his story and has put it all together with purpose. I won’t do that all the way through Mark. I will from time to time focus on a small story or section.
For now, I’ve outline this long passage into 4 parts:
His ministry begins…
- With the calling of his first 4 disciples
- Through preaching, teaching, and healing w/ authority that the religious leaders don’t have
- And is sustained by a powerful prayer life
- And is so successful, he must retreat from public life
I. The Calling of His First Four Disciples
exp.: The 4 men are Simon & Andrew; James & John – two sets of two brothers. Five common actions:
- Jesus is passing by them
- He sees them
- He calls them
- They left their nets (father)
- They followed Jesus
ill.: the closest OT parallel to this narrative is the calling of Elisha to follow Elijah. We could spend the rest of the morning doing comparisons here; however, let me just say that in 1 Kings 19, Elijah calls Elisha and Elisha leaves everything to follow him and be his disciple.
app.: May I offer an application here: to be a disciple is costly. It will call you to leave all you know to follow in obedience to Jesus. Just where that leads, I don’t know. It is different for everyone. But the call is nevertheless costly. Have you accurately counted the costs?
My problem: distinguishing between being a disciple and being called into full-time vocational service. Maybe the problem is more for me – and what I do – to be paid a wage to be your pastor. I’m not asking you to stop paying me a salary.
I heard a pastor once joke about being a pastor. He said of his congregation: I get paid to be good. You’re good for nothing!
Well, I’m not paid to be good – I’m who I am because of the work of Christ. And it would be the same for you, as a Christian. I am not calling in to question my service of being a minister for 34 years. I’m not being critical of Robert Garland’s and his calling to the gospel ministry. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t see a difference in Scripture concerning service to the Lord. I don’t see people being saved to just go to church on Sunday. The calling to discipleship – is costly.
Can you be saved to nothing? Let’s flesh that out over the next few months as we observe the disciples we encounter. Are they called to just be good?
t.s.: so, these men leave their livelihood to study under this new rabbi. 2ndly, His ministry begins…
II. Through teaching, preaching and healing w/ authority that the religious leaders don’t have (21-34)
exp.: location: Capernaum; In this section of growing popularity, Mark describes three miracles:
- An exorcism in the synagogue of Capernaum (1:21–28),
- The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law and a summary of other healings (1:29–34),
- The healing of a man with a skin disease (1:40–45), and
- There is a 4th story of the healing of a paralyzed man (2:1–12). But, I think this story is related to the question of authority – and by what authority Jesus does what he does.
In these episodes, Mark emphasizes not only Jesus’ power to heal, but also his growing popularity, his intimate prayer life with God that sustains the life of this man being pursued by the people.
- His Power to heal
- His Popularity
- His Prayer Life
Let’s look at these three miracles as listed here; the episode is structured similarly to other gospel exorcisms:
- A statement of the problem (v. 23),
- The challenge to Jesus from the unclean spirit (v. 24),
- The authority of Jesus through his command to “be silent and come out” (v. 25),
- Immediate obedience by the unclean spirit (v. 26) and
- The crowd’s response of amazement, first to the teaching, then to the exorcism (v. 27).
What is unique to Mark’s account, is the amazement of the crowd to His authority rather than the power Jesus wields through exorcism. The people are first amazed that his teaching goes way beyond that of what they’re used to hearing (v. 22). An exorcism would be attention grabbing; arresting, even. And yet, even after Jesus has cast out this unclean spirit, the people speak first about the “new teaching with authority” and only then about the exorcism (v. 27).
app.: I think Mark is placing his emphasis on the authority of Jesus to do everything he does. And the exorcism is simply validation of that authority. That’s why he can proclaim what he preaches and do what he does in accomplishing the mission he was sent to finish: the proclamation and inauguration of the kingdom of God (The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel).
2ndly, the conflict here is between Jesus and the spiritual realms of darkness. He is beating back the front line of Satan. This is where the conflict should be. But Satan, in the coming chapters, will do his best to make the authorities feel threatened and become enraged to where they’ll plot his death. Maybe there is more here: Jesus is casting out an unclean spirit of a man in the synagogue. He is not in a brothel. He’s not in a bar. He’s at church – synagogue. His ministry begins in the religious institution.
We’re seeing two applications that hit home this morning:
- Discipleship is costly…
- The Kingdom of God comes first to his own house…
exp.: in v 29ff – the ministry continues in the city at Simon & Andrew’s home; His mother-in-law is healed; then ‘the whole city’ comes to the door; rd v 33; The whole City… soon, it will be not just this town, but people from the surrounding towns, as well! The timing: it’s the same day – only at sundown, so the Sabbath is over. Can you imagine, hearing Peter tell this story: A day in the life of Jesus. Peter and his brother and the Sons of Thunder are seeing and hearing what is going on. Peter is able to relay this eyewitness account to Mark. I love this. But Mark’s focus isn’t on Peter – nor to impress us that he worked with Peter.
app.: Mark is pointing us to the fact that Christ is fulfilling what was spoken of him from of old; Isaiah 35.4-6
Say to those who have an anxious heart,
“Be strong; fear not!
Behold, your God
will come with vengeance,
with the recompense of God.
He will come and save you.”
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy: What was destroyed by sin shall be made new: A new creation, if you will or a re-creation. Eden was lost, but now is being restored. These people see it – and it’s the closest thing to heaven they can get. They want it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if we were offering the Garden of Eden to the lost of the world – they would be at our door. I think people want heaven – and we offer it, but when they come – they don’t find Jesus.
Ill.: UFO’s are big in the news lately. I believe in UFO’s – especially the U part of UFO – Unidentified! These are objects and they appear to be flying. The key is that just because they’re unidentified, it doesn’t mean they’re from mars or some other out of space place. Here’s the thing: why are people always looking for something bigger than themselves? They want to be a part of something larger than themselves.
I think it’s the same reason these folks were amazed at Jesus’ teaching and ministry. It was something bigger than themselves. If the only difference between us and the world is that we can’t sleep in on Sunday, something is terribly wrong! Our fellowship should be representing this… something bigger than ourselves.
t.s.: His ministry begins by calling the first 4 disciples, by teaching, preaching and healing with authority that the religious leaders have never displayed; and, 3rd, His ministry begins
III. And is sustained through a private prayer life (35-39)
exp.: rd v 35; to be sure, this is only telling us of this moment. The passage doesn’t communicate what I’ve just said. It is only an example of his prayer life. I’m borrowing from the so many other passages in the other gospels that inform us of the fact that this isn’t the only time – indeed, it was a common practice of his. So much has been said about this; Luke 5.16; But, I think what Mark is focusing on here is what happens next; rd v 36-37;
ill.: looking is ζητέω lit.: seeking, searching; However, the word search in v 36, is only used here in the NT. And, in the OT Greek text, it is used to describe what Saul was doing to David. It is the word used in 1 Samuel to describe Saul’s pursuit of David; Lit.: he was hunting for David; Your favorite Greek Lexicon will say of this word: [(nearly always translated ‘pursue’ as in a hostile sense) search for eagerly, hunt for τινά someone;] that’s what Saul did of David and that is the word used by Mark. We’re talking a diligent, urgent search to find him.
app.: No wonder he needed time alone – isolation; It’s hard to have a vibrant prayer life if so, many people keep bothering you. So, he says of this – let’s get out of here; rd v 38-39
t.s.: And that’s what leads us to this last section in this particular passage:
IV. And is so successful, He must retreat from public life (40-45)
exp.: Unknown quote: Another such instance of compassion and healing takes place when a leper comes to Jesus and appeals to him for healing. Jesus, moved with pity and compassion, does just that; but warns the man to keep this to himself. He is told to tell no one, but the priest alone when going to do as the Law required for him to be declared clean. But, the man couldn’t keep it to himself. This man’s actions – talking freely and spreading the word of Jesus everywhere he went – causes Jesus to no longer be able to appear openly. Instead, he is forced into the desolate regions (45); however, the people seek his help there, too (40-45). Rd v 45b – Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places, and people were coming to him from every quarter.
ill.: don’t you just want to grab this man and say: Dude! He told you to keep your mouth shut!
app.: Scholars call this the Messianic Secret. And can you blame the guy! Dude, I didn’t recognize you! What happened – you’re skin fungus is gone! What is he going to say: I dunno. He’s got to be pretty excited!
t.s.: why? Would he be excited?
Conclusion: Because he was an outcast. He hadn’t lived with his family or near friends in…who knows how long? He hadn’t been to the Temple to worship in … well, since the same amount of time. Unclean! Unclean! are the words he’s heard since this happened to him. Maybe years!
Now, with the touch of a hand and some simple words: be clean! – this man is whole again. When was the last time he felt the touch of a human hand? When was the last time he felt a hug from his wife, his kids, his momma? Who could blame him for speaking out?
I’ll bet he sang: Since I met the blessed Savior; Since he cleansed and made me whole; I will never cease to praise him; I’ll shout it while eternity rolls. He touched me; Oh, He touched me; Oh, the joy that floods my soul. Something happened and now I know – He touched me and made me whole!
You know what strikes me about this little encounter? Everything changes for this man, and it’s good! But, things change for Jesus, too. This man’s previous life becomes the life of the master. Look at those words again in v 45: Jesus could no longer openly enter a town, but was out in desolate places… What was the leper’s life (isolation, loneliness), now becomes what Jesus knows. That man – he’s clean now, he can enter the Temple and worship in God’s presence. He can openly move about the city – go in and out of any village he wants. But not Jesus.
Ladies and Gentlemen, that is a picture of substitutionary atonement. All of our sin and sickness and imperfection is placed on Jesus on the cross. All of Christ’s perfection is placed on us.
NYT – Morning Briefing: The weather forecasts we rely on are themselves dependent on meteorological satellites, of which the first successful launch was April fools day, 1960 in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Tiros-1 for Television Infrared Observation Satellite, was only 42 inches wide and 19 inches tall, but it was a game-changer for meteorology in 1960. From its vantage point 400 miles up, the satellite let forecasters track wide cloud movements for the first time. And within its first 10 days aloft, it transmitted a fuzzy picture of a typhoon churning about 1,000 miles off Australia.
Before Tiros-1, weather observations had been available for only a small part of the planet, drawn from the scattered reports of balloons and surface stations. Suddenly, meteorologists possessed a world of new data, and the accuracy of their forecasts soared. Successive satellites carried increasingly advanced instruments, providing greater detail and enabling the five-day forecasts we’ve come to rely on. Of course, they contribute far more than a heads-up to grab an umbrella. Their early warnings can be credited with saving millions of lives and avoiding billions in property damage.
Before Christ, understanding the Bible and the message of God was rather limited. Devotion to God was determined by a set of rules: do’s and don’ts; thou shalt’s and thou shalt not’s. But just as satellite technology offers a better vantage point for weather, so Christ has given us a better understanding of who we are – and what we need. Of who he is – And what he can do for us. If that describes your life – if you’re unclean – a filthy sinner, I offer Christ to you today. Let him touch you and make you whole!