HIS MINISTRY BEGINS
In our study in Mark we saw Mark open up with John the baptist coming on the scene. And John came "preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." He came to prepare the way for the Messiah and he was preparing the hearts of the people, making them aware of their sins and for them to return to God. Johns ministry was around the area of Jericho, by the Jordan River.
And as this wild looking prophet of God, wearing camel skin clothes, eating locusts and honey, was ministering to the people, Jesus comes by and asks to be baptized by John. And Jesus went under the water and as He came up, out of the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit came upon Him as a dove, and the Father from Heaven spoke, saying "You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
It was after this that we are told that Jesus was "immediately" driven into the wilderness by the Spirit of God. And there, alone and hungry, Satan came to tempt Him, to get Jesus to stumble. But each time Satan came at Jesus, Jesus went to the Word of God to put Satan to silence. And after three temptations; the lust of the flesh - telling Jesus to turn these rocks into bread, the lust of the eyes - telling Jesus He could have all the kingdoms of the world if He would only bow down and worship him, and the pride of life - telling Jesus to throw Himself off the wall of the city and have the angels catch Him before He crashed down upon the rocks below.
We are told then that Satan departed until another time of opportunity came his way to tempt Jesus again. And the Scriptures tell us that Jesus, as much as He was tempted, never fell to these temptations, He never sinned. Hebrews 4:15 says "For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."
Now we are going to pick-up our story in Mark chapter 1, beginning in verse 14, as we see the ministry of Jesus move forward.
1. For whatever reason, Mark skips over the Lords Judean ministry, His ministry in the area around Jerusalem, and opens up with His ministry around the Sea of Galilee. And keep in mind that what Jesus said, what He taught, was manifested in His life. He lived what He believed. I think that is important for us to apply to our own lives. Our actions should match up with what we are saying or our words are empty, they are meaningless!
2. The light of John the baptist was going out. He even said before this that "I must decrease so
He can increase", speaking of course of Jesus increasing. Now Herod has put John in prison. And in Matthew chapter 4 we get an idea of why Jesus came to the area of Galilee. We read beginning in verse 12, "Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles: The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned. From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matthew 4:12-17.
The town of Capernaum became Jesus base camp, his home town now. And Jesus, the light of the world, was now bringing light to this area called Galilee. A people that were in darkness, spiritual darkness, trying to find God, have had that darkness pierced by the light of God Himself! He was there to show them the way out of this spiritual darkness. As Jesus said in John 8:12, "Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." And so Jesus was fulfilling what the prophet Isaiah had spoken about, He brought light to a people living in darkness!
3. When Jesus came to Galilee, what did He do? He came preaching, He came speaking the gospel of the kingdom of God. The word "gospel", EVAGGELION, means good news. Jesus came to share the good news of God, that He came to save sinners, to redeem them back to God.
And Jesus wants them to repent, METANOIA in the Greek. It means a change of mind. Jesus is saying that he wants us to receive the good news, that we should turn to Him and realize that the light has been turned on. The darkness has been pierced. Today is the day of salvation!
Now what does Jesus mean that the kingdom of God is near or is at hand? In the mind of the Jews, they were thinking earthly kingdom where the Messiah will rule and reign from. No longer would they be oppressed by the gentiles, at this time it was the Romans who were ruling over them. Yes Jesus is coming to set up His kingdom one day, but that is not the only point that Jesus is making here. The day of the establishment of His kingdom is drawing close, I believe, but it has not come yet. Then what was Jesus speaking of?
Listen to what Jesus said in Luke chapter 17. We read beginning in verse 20, "Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, See here! or See there! For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:20-21. When you turn from your sins and come to God through Jesus Christ, the kingdom is established, not on an earthly throne at this time, but on the throne of your heart. He is King of your life and thus you look to Him for your direction, your guiding, your strength, your deliverance, and-so-on.
Paul the apostle, when speaking to the Ephesian elders for the last time, said this to them in Acts 20:20-21. We read "how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." You see, it doesnt matter if you go to church. It doesnt matter if your family is saved. It doesnt matter that you use Christian words or phrases. The key is this, is Jesus Lord and Savior of your life? If He is then your life should reflect that relationship with Him, for it shows that your faith is real!
Again, as Paul clearly puts it in Galatians chapter 4, speaking of the appointed time that God was to come into this world, said beginning in verse 4, "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." Galatians 4:4-5.
Now we are going to move into the time when Jesus called His men, and so back in Mark chapter 1, lets begin reading in verse 16.
1. Here in Mark we see 4 of the 12 apostles called by Jesus. Now in reading this you may get the idea that Jesus called out these men He didnt know, and they didnt know Him, and they dropped everything, their lifes work, and followed after Jesus. Not so.
In John chapter 1 we are given the events that took place a year prior to what Mark is speaking of. And in John we see James and John, Andrew and his brother Peter spoken to by Jesus. They were aware of who He was, what He was teaching. In fact, in John we also see Philip, so early on we have at least 5 out of the 12 apostles who were fully aware of Jesus and what He was teaching.
Too often people make many excuses why they cant follow Jesus. Even back then they had reasons why they couldnt go forward. Listen to what transpired in the life of Jesus as people desired to follow after Him but were not willing to make the sacrifice, they wanted to do it their own way at their own pace and in their own time. In Luke 9:57-62 we read "Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, Lord, I will follow You wherever You go. And Jesus said to him, Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head. Then He said to another, Follow Me. But he said, Lord, let me first go and bury my father. Jesus said to him, Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house. But Jesus said to him, No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God."
One said he wanted to go where Jesus went, but he didnt realize that to follow Jesus cost you everything. Another was called by Jesus, but he wanted to bury his father. It seems like a reasonable request, but his father wasnt dead yet. He was just stalling, saying he wanted to wait till his father died, and then he would go. Another was torn between following Jesus and his friends and family back home. Jesus put it this way in Luke 14:33, "So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple."
What Jesus is saying is He needs to be Lord of your life. He must be more important to you than family, friends, jobs, activities and-so-on. If you make Him the priority in your life, the others things will fall into place. If you dont, your life will be messed up, turned in many directions not knowing which way to turn or go.
These men left all to follow Jesus, why? Because they were convinced who He was. They would not have forsaken all to follow Him if they did not believe in their heart who He was.
And when we do give our lives to Christ, make Him Lord in our life, He will make us fishers of men. God will use you to bring the souls of men and women into the kingdom of God. And if you miss the reality of what Jesus was speaking of, read the book of Acts and you will see how fruitful their ministry was. How they brought many into the kingdom of God. They were truly fishers of men!
And understand this, the book of Acts doesnt end in chapter 28 verse 31. It continues on as Gods people continue to move forward. We are a living epistle for all to see. The book of Acts is continuing on through us, and thus, lets make an impact for the Lord and give Him the glory. Lets be fishers of men!
As Jesus said in John 14:12-14, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." God wants to do great things in us and through us. All He is asking us to do is follow Him!