Mark 1

Mark recorded nothing of Jesus’ birth and early years. Mark was concerned to present Jesus as a man of action. An event is completed and Mark notes that immediately another event followed. Mark presented Jesus’ acts, messages, and suffering in light of the Old Testament.

(1) In Mark 1:2-3, Mark employed Isa 40:3 and Mal 3:1 to validate John the Baptist as Jesus’ forerunner. In Mark’s mindset, “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1), necessitated understanding Jesus in light of God’s revelation before Jesus’ birth. Mark and the other Evangelists saw in the words of the prophets a launch pad for describing the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (Matt 3:1-6//Mark 1:2-6//Luke 3:1-6//John 1:19-23). In Isaiah 1-39, the prophet repeatedly confronted Israel for her sin, urging her to trust the Lord for deliverance. Beginning in Isaiah 40, the prophet proclaimed words of hope. Isaiah announced the day when the Lord would send a forerunner to prepare the people for the day of God’s redeeming power, when He would intervene for His people. Malachi also prophesied that the Lord would send a messenger to prepare the people for the time when God would intervene on behalf of His chosen ones (Mal 3:1). John’s ministry was widely successful. Mark wrote that crowds came from throughout Judea and Jerusalem to be baptized by John. They heard John preach that all must repent and await the day when One more powerful than him would come and baptize the people with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:4-8).

(2) In Mark 1:11, Mark described the Spirit coming upon Jesus in accord with expectations of the Messiah. The Evangelists portrayed Jesus’ baptism as the inaugural event of the Lord’s public ministry (Matt 3:13-17//Mark 1:9-11//Luke 3:21-22//John 1:29-34). The Spirit of the Lord led Moses (Num 11:16-30), Saul (1 Sam 10:10), and David (1 Sam 16:13; Ps 2:2; 51:11) in their positions of leadership. Isaiah predicted that the Lord’s deliverer would be anointed by the Spirit (Isa 11:2; 42:1, 7; 61:1-2). Mark wrote that the moment Jesus came out of the baptismal waters, the heavens were torn open and the Spirit descended upon Jesus.

(3) In Mark 1:40-45, Jesus cleansed a leper in violation and fulfillment of Leviticus 13-14. Moses established a detailed protocol for how Israel should deal with skin diseases. The priests investigated skin irritations for signs of infection and quarantined those having a disease that could spread. When the disease was healed, the priest would lead the cleansed person in a ceremony so all would know that the person was whole and ready to commune again with the community (Lev 14:1-9). The ceremony required the cleansed person to bring animals for sacrifice and restitution before the Lord and priests (Lev 14:21-32). When a man with a serious skin disease came to Jesus and begged the Lord to heal him, Jesus was moved with compassion (Mark 1:41). In touching the man, Jesus set aside the priestly ritual of Leviticus 13. By His own power, Jesus healed the man instantly. No process or procedure was needed. But Jesus upheld Lev 14:1-32, commanding the man to quietly fulfill the law by giving the priest the offering for cleansing (Mark 1:43-44). Jesus told the man to do this as a testimony to what Jesus had done for him.