1 – “ The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ ”” (Mark 1:1-3, ESV)
RAF: The Gospel must begin with an announcement. All must prepare themselves, because the Lord is to visit us. How then shall we be ready? How then, shall we live. We ever preach, and ever live in the light of His second coming now, even as they did in the light of His incarnation.
2 – “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.” (Mark 1:4-6, ESV)
RAF: Baptism is always linked with the confession of sin – the acknowledgment of personal defilement, met only in being united to Jesus Christ. And our being united to Him is in the reality of His death in our place, His burial in our place, and His resurrection for us.
3 – “ The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.” (Mark 1:12-13, ESV)
RAF: The 2nd Adam faced temptation, and overcame it. For us.
4 – “ Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”” (Mark 1:14-15, ESV)
RAF: The new King declares: a. Enter my Kingdom now. b. Amnesty is declared. c. I will forgive the crimes of all who rejected my right to rule over them before I came, if they will come to me now. d. I will yet judge all who will refuse me free offer.
5 – “ Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.” (Mark 1:16-20, ESV)
RAF: As with all of us, Christ Jesus found these men: a. Where they were. b. Doing what they were doing. c. Because they were who they were.
He find us: a. In the world. b. Sinning. c. Because we are sinners.
Then He promises to make us the real, or substance, of which we are but shadows at the present. We are but indistinct in our reflection of His image. He promises to recover that in us fully.
6 – “And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” (Mark 2:17, ESV)
RAF: Would you have Jesus near, and know Him? Never lose your sense of how much you need Him. Man was created to live in constant, deliberate dependence upon our God. Not to live independently from Him. He is not a crutch – He is our very life.
7 – “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. If he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.”” (Mark 2:21-22, ESV)
RAF: Jesus did not come to patch up Judaism. Nor to simply pour Himself into a fallen mankind. He came to bring an entirely new fabric, a new covenant. He came, to make men new, and then indwell these new creatures, re-created to be His dwelling place.
8 – “So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”” (Mark 2:28, ESV)
RAF: The Sabbath is uniquely set in the Ten Commandments. It is not like the others, in that it is specially enacted as a sign between God and Israel. Whereas murder and adultery are condemned in all societies, and the nations judged for them, no other nation (throughout the Old Testament) is ever charged with breaking it. In its uniqueness, Christ can establish His supreme authority as in no other. Without violating any of God’s own moral nature, He can nevertheless state categorically His own authority over the very Law of God in being Lord of the sabbath. He can rule it as He sees fit. Administrate it as He sees fit. He is God. And nowhere is His deity as well attested to than it is in His stretching out His hand and claiming that He can rule the Law given at Sinai.
9 – “And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”” (Mark 3:21, ESV)
RAF: How utterly alone He must have felt. Not even His family. And it is not just that they did not believe Him, they thought Him mad. Insane. No one in all of human history had ever been so completely misunderstood. How much then He knows the pain of it when we are. What a Savior He is. How He can enter into every pain and agony we face. How especially He knows the sorrow of such loneliness.
10 – “And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”” (Mark 4:15-20, ESV)
RAF: This is extremely helpful in understanding the life of any congregation. There will be those who come and hear, who nevertheless will never manifest any of the life of Christ. There will be those who start out among us like gang-busters. Jubilant, joyful, full of verve, who will fall away when to going gets rough. In spite of such a promising start. There will be those who are among us who over time however, get so entangled in the affairs of this life, that they too will bear no fruit. But then there are those, who remain. Who hear and receive. Who are not withered by the harsh conditions. Who fight the weeds and thorns and keep looking to produce fruit. And who indeed begin to manifest the the life of Christ to greater and lesser degrees. But is they are, and His life bears fruit in them. Oh what a joy these are.
11 – “With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.” (Mark 4:33-34, ESV)
RAF: Would you know the mysteries of the Kingdom? Go to Him. Ask. He explains Himself when He is sought. He loves to be understood. He uses such means to weed out those who have no real concern for His truth, and those who do. Disciples, will come and seek Him out to know what He means by what He says.
12 – “As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” And he went away and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and everyone marveled.” (Mark 5:18-20, ESV)
RAF: Though it has been discounted in some circles, here is a great encouragement in evangelism. With only the barest exposure to Christ. With little or no theological training. With no more detailed instruction than this – a man may enter upon a fruitful and Christ sanctioned ministry of evangelism: “Go home to your friends and them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you.” Isn’t that just so abundantly simple and sweet and ready at hand? The telling of how He has met us in our sin, and of His great mercy is enough. Each of us is a ready made evangelist in this accounting. Don’t wait a minute more. Don’t fear you don’t know enough or haven’t been given techniques or strategies. Just tell them how much He’s done for you. That’s all He asks. It is enough.
13 – “And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ”” (Mark 5:30-31, ESV)
RAF: Father, may it never be, that I can walk with Christ, hear Him, follow Him, press Him, and never truly touch Him. Let me never just handle Him and not be changed. It is the difference between familiarity with facts, and approaching Him by faith. Let my faith be living and real. Let me never read your Word without touching Him. Never hear a sermon without touching Him. Never pray without touching Him. Never worship without touching Him. Never.
14 – “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.” (Mark 6:3, ESV)
RAF: Jesus had at this point, 4 brothers, and at least 2 sisters.
15 – “But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”” (Mark 8:33, ESV)
RAF: “Satan” means – adversary. All it takes to be God’s adversary, is to set our agenda above His. Heavenly Father, keep your plan and purposes ever before me. Let me live my life so as to be fully invested in your agenda, what you are about in this world. Let me leave my self-willed and self-constructed goals behind. Let me be immersed in your will, surrendering my own completely. If nothing gets done the way I want, let it be, as long as your will is done.
Note the connection between 33, and 34-38. This is what it means to take up the Cross. To abandon our agendas, for His.
16 – “ “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’” (Mark 9:42-48, ESV)
RAF: Jesus’ teaching here is within the context of the discussion above – where the Disciples were arguing who among them was the greatest. So the warning against sin here, would seem to be this sin He has directly in mind at this point. The worst thing we can do is to create in anyone else a sense of elitism or superiority in God’s Kingdom. If we strive for recognition or rank, we will infect others around us. We must fight this wretched sin and the tendency toward it at all costs. a. Never work for it (the hand in vs. 43). b. Never walk toward it or in it (the foot in 45). c. Never set your eye upon it (vs 47). It is a damning evil. It is rank, and it rots the soul. Whenever we find our hearts desiring some rank, position or recognition in the Body, we are in a most dangerous place. Father, deliver us.