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Commentary on the Gospel of Mark


The Gospel of Mark


Mark wrote down Peter's account of the 'good news'.  Peter was one of the first twelve of Jesus' disciples, and the first to publicly recognise Him as the Messiah.  Peter, through Mark, shows us that Jesus fulfils all the criteria of the Servant-Messiah our Ransom, who was prophesied by Isaiah some 750 years earlier (Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:5-7; 52:13-53:12).  Jesus is portrayed as a slave, caring for people and serving God (Mark 1:32-35).  There are therefore no details of His birth, only of the beginning of His service (Mark 1:1,9). 


The diligence of His service and its effect on people is such that the word 'immediately' is used many, many times in Mark's account.  More than once, Jesus was so busy healing people, He did not have time to eat (Mark 3:20; 6:31).  In case after case His great compassion is manifested, both on individuals and on the crowd "because He saw the crowd were like sheep without a shepherd" (Mark 6:34).


As the Son of God He could discern the thoughts of hearts, yet as God's Slave (representing God faithfully as the Son of Man) He was authorized to both forgive sins and heal the sick, as seen in Mark 2:1-12.


Mark's record also describes the feelings of people, the anguish of suffering and the relief of Jesus' touch, in details not contained elsewhere:  the "little daughter", the woman who "had spent everything she had on doctors and was not benefitted at all", they "begged Him earnestly" to come and heal; when He did "they were amazed and with great amazement", they said "we have never seen anything like this", or "they feared greatly" (Mark 5:21-43; 2:12; 7:37; 4:41).


Gradually the eyes of the disciples, especially Peter, begin to open:  this is the promised Messiah, the Christ (Mark 8:29).  Straight away, Jesus shows them that He will be despised and rejected and fulfill the sufferings predicted in Isaiah chapter 53, regarding His death for our sins.  Peter just can't believe it.  Then Jesus shows them that to be His disciples means to follow Him in every way, not to be ashamed of Him, but to suffer with Him, so that when He comes in His Messianic kingdom, He will not be ashamed of them (Mark 8:30-38).


From this point onwards, Jesus speaks and teaches more.  But still Jesus is the slave of God, healing people, full of compassion.  Jesus reveals "the Son of Man came to serve and to give His life a ransom for many" in Mark 10:45.  He comes to Jericho, the lowest city on the earth's surface (500 feet below sea level). There, the lowest person in the lowest city (a blind beggar) cries out to Him. Peter even remembers the beggar's name, Bar Timaeus, and Mark records it.  Jesus asks Bar Timaeus "What do you want Me to do for you?" What does the lowest of the low want the coming Messianic King (the Son of Man, Mark 8:38; 10:45) to do for him?  "That I may receive my sight" came Bar Timaeus' reply.  Jesus heals him; He is still the slave of God to serve needy people.


As Jesus enters Jerusalem there is a rapturous welcome, but it is short-lived.  The Passover Feast is about to begin, where the obedient slave will become the obedient lamb, silent before His shearers and led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7).


Before this though, there will be one last supper, where the slave of God will serve His disciples, saying "Take; this is My body" and "This is My blood, being poured out for many" (Mark 14:22-24). Now He has given them everything.  Gently, He warns the disciples one more time of what is coming: the Shepherd will be struck down and the sheep will be scattered (Mark 14:27).  But Peter is confident he will not be a sheep that goes astray, turning to his own way (Isaiah 53:6).  Jesus warns him, but still he does not listen.  Within hours, Peter will deny he ever knew Jesus (Mark 14:71).

Later, in the garden, the slave of God prays intimately to His Father:  "Abba, not what I will, but what You will" (Mark 14:36); He is obedient even unto death.  Mark then records the details of how Jesus is despised, smitten, afflicted, wounded, bruised, whipped, oppressed and finally led out to die, not opening His mouth to defend Himself (only answering name and rank, Mark 14:62).  Nailed to the cross, God lays upon Him the iniquity of us all.  Jesus has fulfilled every last detail of Isaiah chapter 53.


This is not the end, though.  His obedient death is accepted by God as our ransom:  "My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.  He (God the Father) shall see the travail of His (Jesus') soul and be satisfied" (Isaiah 53:11).  Because He is satisfied, God raises Jesus from the dead:  "He shall prolong His days" (Isaiah 53:10).  The women visit the tomb and find it empty.  It is announced to them:  "He is raised!  Go and tell His disciples and Peter, 'You will see Him', even as He told you" (Mark 16:7).  What compassion and wonderful care for Peter!


Jesus is the compassionate slave of God and our ransom!


Are you a sheep that ought to return to the Shepherd?


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St. Mark, the disciple and interpreter of St. Peter, (saith St. Jerome),

according to what he heard from Peter himself, wrote at Rome a brief

Gospel at the request of the Brethren, about ten years after our Lord's

Ascension; which when Peter had heard, he approved of it, and with his

authority published it to the Church to be read.  Baronius and others say,

the original was written in Latin: but the more general opinion is that the

Evangelist wrote it in Greek.

Christ heals the sick of the palsy: calls Matthew; and

excuses his disciples.

Christ heals the withered hand: he chooses the twelve:

he confutes the blasphemy of the Pharisees.

The parable of the sower..  Christ stills the tempest at sea.

Christ casts out a legion of devils: he heals the issue of blood,

and raises the daughter of Jairus to life.

Christ teaches at Nazareth: he sends forth the twelve apostles:

he feeds five thousand with five loaves; and walks upon the sea.

Christ rebukes the Pharisees.  He heals the daughter of the

woman of Chanaan; and the man that was deaf and dumb.

Christ feeds four thousand.  He gives sight to a blind man.  

He foretells his passion.

Christ is transfigured.  He casts out the dumb spirit.

 He teaches humility and to avoid scandal.

Marriage is not to be dissolved.  The danger of riches.  

The ambition of the sons of Zebedee.  A blind man is restored to his site.

Christ enters into Jerusalem upon an ass: curses the barren fig tree:

and drives the buyers and sellers out of the temple.

The parable of the Vineyard and husbandmen.  Caesar's right to tribute.

 The Sadduces are confuted.  The first commandment.  The widow's mite.

Christ foretells the destruction of the temple, and the signs

that shall forerun the day of judgment.

The first part of the history of the passion of Christ.

The continuation of the history of the passion.

Christ's resurrection and ascension.

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