Learning from Mark 1-3
1:1-20 - This is a new ‘beginning’. The prophets had spoken. Now, the Saviour has come. This is 'Good News.' John has prepared the way. Now, he stands aside to make way for 'Jesus Christ, the Son of God' (1,11). Following Jesus’ baptism, there was temptation. This was Kingdom against kingdom. Satan’s kingdom was under threat. The Kingdom of God had come. Christ triumphed over Satan. In Him, we triumph when, hearing the Gospel declaration - ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand’ - , we obey the Gospel command - ‘repent and believe the gospel’ (15). With the command, ‘Follow Me’, there is the promise, ‘I will make you...’ (17). Christ’s call is ‘full of grace and truth’ (John 1:14). It is truth - a call to discipleship. It is grace - a call from Jesus. In Christ, we become ‘a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). We become ‘fishers of men’ (17).
1:21-2:12 - Great things were happening. God was moving in power. In all this, we could easily overlook something very important: Jesus prayed (35). He made time for prayer. This was not wasted time. This was time well spent. Jesus was mighty before men - the power of God was flowing freely. Jesus knew where the power comes from - He was humble before God. We long for this - ‘they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”’ (12). We must pray in faith, bringing people before the Lord, convinced that such prayer ‘is powerful and effective’ (2:5; James 5:16). “If my people... pray..., I will... forgive their sin and heal their land’ (2 Chronicles 7:14). “O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee. Send a revival. Start the work in me. Thy Word declares Thou wilt supply our need. For blessing now, O Lord, I humbly plead' (Mission Praise, 587).
2:13-3:12 - Jesus changes people. Levi became Matthew (14). He became ‘a new creation’ (2 Corinthians 5:17). The change of name marked his new birth (John 3:6). To be changed by Jesus you must recognize yourself as a sinner (17). There is a world of difference between legal obedience - ‘old wine’ - and Gospel obedience - ‘new wine’ (21-22). There is an eternity of difference between belonging to God’s Kingdom and remaining outside of His Kingdom (John 3:3,5,7). The religion of the Pharisees was legalistic. The obedience of Jesus was spiritual. Will we follow Jesus, or will we be like these ‘religious’ men who planned ‘to destroy Him’ (6)? It is sadly possible to participate in ‘religion’, professing faith in ‘the Son of God’, in an ‘unclean spirit’ (11). Prompted by the Holy Spirit, let us truly confess that ‘Jesus is Lord’ (1 Corinthians 12:3).
3:13-35 - The conflict intensifies. The ‘twelve’ are ‘sent... to cast out demons’ (14-15). Jesus is accused of being demon-possessed (22). Jesus warns against ‘an eternal sin’ - blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (28-30). With the offer of forgiveness - ‘the blood of Jesus... cleanses us from all sin’ - , there is the call to ‘confess our sins’ (1 John 1:7,9). ‘If we say we have no sin’ (1 John 1:8,10) and no need of Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we resist the Holy Spirit who seeks to convict us of our sin and lead us to the Saviour (John 16:8-9,14). Are you anxious about ‘an unpardonable sin’ ? Let the Holy Spirit lead you to the Saviour. Take your sin to Jesus, and let His ‘perfect love cast out your fear’ (1 John 4:18). Do you think you cannot be forgiven ? God’s thoughts are ‘higher’: ‘Return to the Lord... He will abundantly pardon’ (Isaiah 55:6-9).