Mark 1:14. Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, —
When one servant of God is laid aside, it is a call to the rest to be the more earnest. So after John the Baptist was put into prison, “Jesus came into Galilee.” Sometimes a loss may be a gain, and if the loss of John was the means of bringing out Jesus, certainly both the Church and the world were the gainers: “Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,” —
Mark 1:15. And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
It is clear, from this passage, that our Lord exhorted men to repent, and to believe the gospel. There are some, who profess to be his followers, who will not suffer us to do this. We may teach men, and warn them, they say, but we must not exhort them to repent and believe. Well, as the contention of these people is not in accordance with the Scriptures, we are content to follow the Scriptures, and to do as Jesus did, so we shall say to sinners, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
Mark 1:16-18. Now as he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And Jesus said unto them; Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed him.
The gospel minister is like the fisherman with a net. I have sometimes heard the comparison drawn as though the gospel fisherman had a hook and a line, which he has not. His business is not to entice a fish to swallow his bait but to cast the net all round him, and lift him, by his grace, out of the element in which he lies in sin, into the boat where Christ still sits, as he sat, in the olden days, in the boat on the sea of Galilee. To shut the sinner up to faith in Jesus Christ, — that is the main work of the true gospel fisherman.
Mark 1:19-20. And when he had gone a little further thence, he saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their nets. And straightway he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
They never had cause to regret that they did so. Whatever they left, they were abundantly rewarded. They had a rich reward here on earth; and they have a far richer reward in heaven. Whatever a man gives up for Christ is a blessed investment, which will, sooner or later, bring him good interest.
Mark 1:21-22. And they went into Capernaum; and straightway on the sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught. And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes.
He did not do as the scribes did, who made a great parade of learning by quoting this Rabbi and the other, but Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” He spoke as one who felt that he had authority to speak in his own name, and in the name of God his Father. This method of teaching quite astonished the Jews. I wish that those who now hear the gospel, might be astonished at it, and be astonished into the belief of it by the power with which it comes home to their consciences and hearts.
Mark 1:23-24. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, Let us alone;
How often that is still the cry of sinners, “Let us alone. Why do not you hold your own views, and let us alone? “Yes the devils, and those whom they control, still say, “Let us alone.” But it is a part of the gospel to attack that which is not the gospel, and it is as much the duty of the minister of the gospel to denounce error as to proclaim truth. If we do so, the old cry will still be heard, “Let us alone. Let us alone.”
Mark 1:24-25. What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, —
He did not want any testimony from the devil. When a man of ill character once praised Plato, the philosopher said, “What can I have done wrong that such a fellow as that speaks well of me?” So when the devil bore testimony to the divinity of Christ, “Jesus rebuked him,” —
Mark 1:25-26. Saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
For, if Satan must come out of a man, he will do him as much mischief as ever he can before he departs. His wrath is all the greater because his time is so short.
“He worries whom he can’t devour,
With a malicious joy.”
Mark 1:27. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
It was the authority of his preaching which first astonished them; and then the authority with which he wrought his miracle, and subdued the world of demons. Blessed be God. Christ has not abdicated his authority. He is still the great Messenger of God, full of divine authority to save men, and to deliver them from the power of Satan.
Mark 1:28-30. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee. And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.
Christ was a house-to-house missionary, as well as an open-air preacher. There is much good to be done by those who know how to visit, and to look after individual cases; there is great good to be done in that way, as well as by dealing with mankind in the bulk.
Mark 1:31-35. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them. And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils. And all the city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils: and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.
His hard day’s work probably ran on far into the night. Yet, “a great while before day,” he was up at the sacred work of supplication. The more work we have to do with men for God, the longer we ought to be at work with God for men. If you plead with men, you cannot hope to prevail unless you first plead with God. And, inasmuch as our Lord had great success the day before, it teaches us that the greatest success does not release us from the necessity of still waiting upon God. If God has given you much, my brother, go with thy basket, and ask for more. Never stay thy prayer. Increase thy spiritual hunger, and God will increase the richness of the gift he will bestow upon thee.
Mark 1:28. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
“Immediately.” That is, as soon as Jesus had healed the man with an unclean spirit, his fame spread like wildfire. The miracle was reported from mouth to mouth till everybody in that region knew of it. It was said that the words and writings of Martin Luther were carried as by the wings of angels, so speedily was everything that he said and wrote made known far and wide. On this occasion, it was so with our Lord’s wondrous deed of mercy and power: “Immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.”
Mark 1:29. And forthwith, when they were come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.
“Forthwith,” or, again, “immediately.” Simon and Andrew and James and John were intimately connected, we are told that they were “partners” in their fishing business. James and John, the sons of Zebedee, seem to have been in a good position in life; we read that their father had “hired servants” employed in the boats. So James and John went with Simon and Andrew into their partners’ house when Christ went there after performing that notable miracle in the synagogue.
Mark 1:30. But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick of a fever, and anon they tell him of her.
There were at least four of Christ’s followers in the house, yet the mother of the wife of one of them lay sick of a fever. Grace does not prevent suffering in the body; there will still be physical diseases even though in the soul there is spiritual health.
Mark 1:31. And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.
Jesus was very calm; he was not afraid of catching the fever. See how deliberately, and with what solemn, kindly dignity he deals with this sick woman: “He came and took her by the hand.” I think I see him doing it “and lifted her up.” He gently raises her, and she yields to his tender uplifting hand, and suddenly finds herself cooled of the burning fever, and perfectly restored to health and strength; so she rises from her bed, and the first thing she does is to minister unto them. I am sure that, whenever the Lord helps any of his people out of their temporal or spiritual distresses, they feel at once that they must say, “What shall we render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward us?” Her ministering unto them proved that the fever was quite gone, and gone in a way in which it does not ordinarily go; for, as you all know, fever usually leaves behind it extreme weakness. It seems to burn up the strength that is in one; and after it is gone, one is not fit even to wait at table for a long while. But Peter’s wife’s mother immediately when the fever was gone, rose and “ministered unto them.” Christ’s cures are always complete. If he saves us from the burning fever, he saves us from the weakness that follows it, and when he deals with soul maladies, his cures are equally complete, there are no after-affects to the soul as there are in many diseases that afflict the body. When the great Physician restores the soul, he restores it completely.
Mark 1:32. And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.
It was the Sabbath, and they would not even bring out their sick folk until the day of rest was over. The Jewish Sabbath ended at the setting of the sun, so these people were all watching and waiting until the sun dipped below the horizon, and then, straight-away, they brought their suffering ones to Jesus. What a mass of misery filled the streets of Capernaum that memorable night! The whole city was turned into a hospital.
Mark 1:33. And all the city was gathered together at the door.
It seemed as if everybody had come either to be healed or to witness the healing of others: “All the city was gathered together at the door.” Oh, when shall we see our places of worship thronged in this fashion with the spiritually sick? When will this great city of London begin to turn towards the Lord Jesus Christ? Will any of us live to see all our fellow-citizens gathered together around the Saviour to be healed by him of all the wounds that sin hath made?
Mark 1:34. And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.
They would persist in acknowledging him; perhaps with the design of injuring his cause, for nothing hurts the cause of Christ more than to have it praised by bad men or evil spirits. I do not know that an outrageous sinner, if he will not repent, can do Christ a better turn than to abuse him for then he is speaking after his own natural manner but when the devil or his servants go into the pulpit, and begin to speak in praise of Christ, then is Christ’s cause in an evil case indeed; so he “suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him;” or, as the margin puts it, even to say that they knew him.”
Mark 1:35. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day,
While it was yet dark, he stole away even from his favoured disciples that he might be alone with his Father.
Mark 1:35-37. He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him,–
For he had endeavoured to conceal himself in the loneliest spot that he could find. Possibly, the disciples overheard his groans, his cries, his supplications, as he poured out his very soul in prayer to his Father: “when they had found him,” —
Mark 1:37-38. They said unto him, All men seek for thee. And he said unto them, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for therefore came I forth.
Jesus Christ came forth from God the Father that he might proclaim throughout the land the message of redeeming grace and dying love.
Mark 1:39-40. And he preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out devils. And there came a leper to him, beseeching him, and kneeling down to him, and saying unto him, If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.
It is a pity that he could not go further than to say to Christ. “If thou wilt,” but it is a great mercy that he could go as far as that, so, if you, dear friend, cannot pray a prayer that is full of faith, pray one that has at least some faith in it. If you cannot go as far as some do, go as far as you can. I have often told you to bless God for moonlight, and then he will give you sunlight; but for anyone to say, “I will not pray at all because I cannot pray as I would like to pray,” is a very foolish thing. Say what you can, even as this poor leper said to Jesus, “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”
Mark 1:41. And Jesus, moved with compassion,–
This is a wonderful expression: “moved with compassion.” The face of Jesus and his whole person showed that his very soul was stirred by an intense fellow-feeling for this poor leper: Jesus, moved with compassion,-
Mark 1:41. Put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
If you or I were to touch a leper, his uncleanliness would at once be communicated to us, but when Christ touches a leper, his cleanliness is communicated to the leper. Oh, how high our blessed Lord stands above us! When we have to deal with certain peculiarly sad cases, we ought to go to the work with much earnest prayer that we ourselves may not be contaminated by contact with gross sinners, but Christ has such virtue in himself that he can even touch the fevered and the leprous, and yet sustain no injury.
Mark 1:42. And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
This was another very wonderful miracle. All that dryness of the skin, that scurf, that peeling, that inward foulness that eats into the bones, and pollutes the very current of the blood — all this was quite gone, the Lord Jesus Christ made this foul, unclean leper perfectly clean and whole in a single moment.
Mark 1:43-44. And he straitly charged him, and forthwith sent him away; and saith unto him, See thou say nothing to any man: but go thy way, shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing those things which Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.
That was all he was to do, — to go and show himself to the priest, so that it might be officially known and certified that he was clean, and he was not to tell anyone else of his cure. He was disobedient to Christ; perhaps you will think that he was very naturally and excusably so, but we must never make excuses for doing what Christ tells us not to do. Our duty is not to judge whether such-and-such a course will be profitable or beneficial, but to consider whether such-and-such a course is in accordance with the Word of the Lord. This man ought to have held his tongue, for Christ had told him to do so. I have no doubt that he said within himself, “The more I talk about this miracle, the more good I shall do, and the more famous Christ’s name will become.” But he had no business to think that, his business was to obey Christ’s command.
Mark 1:45. But he went out, and began to publish it much, and to blaze abroad the matter, insomuch that Jesus could no more openly enter the city,-
There were such crowds that he could not work his miracles of healing. The disobedient man was no doubt moved by gratitude, which seems a very proper motive; yet his disobedience caused Christ serious inconvenience, and hindered his work; and I have no doubt that there are many things done in the Church of God today of which many say, “They are very proper, and very nice;” yes, but are they Scriptural? Did the Master command them? If not, they will cause him and his kingdom serious inconvenience and loss at some time or other. We cannot too fully realize that, as Christ’s disciples, we are to obey him implicitly; and the best proof of our gratitude is to do exactly as Christ bids us. This man blazed abroad the news of his cure, so that “Jesus could no more openly enter into the city,” —
Mark 1:45. But was without in desert places: and they came to him from every quarter.