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Satan Announces Jesus

Mark 1:23-28

Although science believes that demons do not exist, Jesus had no such problem.  When evil spirits spoke through the commandeered mouths of their victims, Jesus heard them, spoke back to them and they obeyed His orders.  This narrative immediately follows Jesus' teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, when all the people were amazed by the compelling authority with which He taught (Mark 1:21-22).  But they did not know why He sounded so completely 'at one' with God's Word.

Who is this Jesus?

Mark 1:29-31

It may not be true that charity begins at home, but if serving God has no domestic context, there is a problem (1 Timothy 5:8).  The scene for this true narrative is Capernaum (Mark 1:21-28).  Jesus and His disciples had just left the synagogue where Jesus had taught the people and cast a demon out of a man.  Although the crowd was full of amazed discussion, Jesus did not stay.  He went to the home of Simon (later called Peter – Matthew 16:17-18) and Andrew.  The other disciples were probably there as well but Mark notes that Jesus took two other brothers, James and John, with Him.  Later,

Bringing People to Jesus

Mark 1:32-34

Diseases of the body and mind have long perplexed humanity.  But Jesus knew their origin.  They are a by-product of Satan's seduction and rebellion against God, infecting Eve and Adam and through them the entire human race.  Disease is part of the downward trajectory of human-kind from the Garden of Eden to 'returning to the dust' (Genesis 3:17-19).  It is very rare that diseases are the direct result of the person's sin, or that their illness marks a spiritual failure in prayer or tithing – as has been suggested by some cults.  Death, and all that leads to it, is a part of the curse of sin

Pray First

Mark 1:35-39

The worlds of prayer and popular self-interest are always in opposition to each other (Matthew 26:40-41).  Prayer speaks of intimacy with a holy God: popularity speaks of superficiality with a selfish crowd.  Prayer is a conversation where you don't have to pretend, but popularity eventually produces the anxiety of keeping up appearances.  Yet how often we prefer the crowd to the Lord, and in so doing we feed the flesh and starve the spirit.  Have we forgotten Elijah's testimony that the Lord was not in the earthquake, wind or fire?  But He was in the 'still small voice' (1 Kings 19:10-13).

Asking for God's Help

Mark 1:40-42

Most people might agree that God probably could do anything.  However, the majority never ask Him.  Either they see their need as irrelevant to Him or that He is remote and therefore inaccessible.  Few believe that Jesus might be asked, or begged, to meet their need.  They simply do not believe that He would be willing to help them.  But the leper in this narrative had no such qualms.  Instead of keeping his distance and calling out 'Unclean, unclean!', to keep other people from coming close and being infected, the man came right up to Jesus, falling on both knees as a sign of reverence and

The Saviour is Greater than the Sign

Mark 1:43-45

The belief that God's Kingdom will expand through advertising its immediate benefits has more to do with the spirit of this age than the Bible.  Jesus had just healed a leper (Mark 1:40-42).  Promotional policies learned from the world would demand maximum publicity from such an amazing miracle.  But the consequence of such advertisement would have been to see Jesus as a healer rather than as a Saviour.  Healing was a temporary sign that He was the promised eternal Saviour (Matthew 11:1-6).  All the bodies of those He healed or even raised from the dead, all died.  But Jesus had come to giv

Bringing a Friend to Jesus

Mark 2:1-5

It is a curious fact that God delights to reveal His character in response to faith. Although many people are confused in their understanding about faith, it is really quite simple.  Faith is not a feeling to be generated - it is the essence of relationship.  Real friendship is impossible unless we share ourselves with each other.  Faith is a practical decision to commit yourself to another person because you believe that they will not disappoint you.  So it is with God.  He discloses His character and we trust Him to express His nature: as we worship Him, He meets our need.  

Who Can Forgive Sins?

Mark 2:6-12

It is astonishing that Jesus could be accused of blasphemy.  Yet in our own age, there are similar protests.  Once the Lord Jesus Christ has been reduced to the level of a prophetic teacher, He is just one of many with an equal right to His opinion, but definitely cannot be the supreme authority.  The thought that Jesus Christ was God in a human body was, and is, most offensive to religious people who are outside of Christ (John 10:33).  When Jesus forgave the paralysed man's sins it was such an obvious statement of His divinity (Mark 2:1-5).  Then He confronted the offended religious criti

Sinners Follow Jesus

Mark 2:13-17

Employers select the best candidates for a job.  So, it seems logical that God would choose the best people to serve Him.   But in this narrative, Jesus chose dishonest Levi (Matthew), and then hosted his leaving party surrounded by those whose morals and integrity were in tatters (Luke 15:1-2).  The religious leaders asked the obvious question, "Why?"  Why should one who claims to be the representative of heavenly perfection, soil himself with corrupted people?  This must prove that He is not from God, and certainly not God (Luke 7:39).

Fasting and Feasting

Mark 2:18-20

Mark introduces us to more confrontation between Jesus and the religious leaders.  He had come to forge a relationship between God and people: they were obsessed by rituals and rules.  The issue was about the practice of fasting.  It was not about fasting being right or wrong, because Jesus assumed that it was as normal a spiritual discipline as prayer and giving to the poor (Matthew 6:2,5,16).  It was all about how and why it is done.  In the Law of Moses, fasting was only demanded on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27).  But after the return of the exiles, around 500BC, fasting was man