Mark 1: 12-20

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

Understanding And Applying the Text

Marks says the Spirit immediately drove Jesus into the wilderness. The word, “immediately,” is a characteristic of Mark. It does not refer to haste. It refers to sureness and steadfastness. The verb translated “drove” can mean with force or violence. It is not used in that sense here. I mention it to point out the word’s strength. The Spirit compelled Jesus into the wilderness. It was not a casual. nudge. No, the Spirit, which had just come upon Jesus, compelled Him into the wilderness.

Jesus was in the wilderness forty days. This may be a symbolic reference to Israel’s wilderness experience. Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.

Mark does not give details of the wilderness temptations. The details are sketchy in all the gospels. But Mark contains the least. He says Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. And Jesus was with wild animals. The wilderness was a cursed place. It was a place where Satan was the master.

This was a reenactment Adam’s temptation. But there were some majors differences. Jesus was in a wilderness. Adam was in a garden. Adam was in paradise. Wild animals threatened Jesus. But praise God! The results were different. Jesus, the second Adam, defeated the devil. Jesus defeated him here and on the cross.

Mark starts recording the ministry of Jesus in Galilee. Jesus Galilean ministry began after Herod killed John.

There are inconsistencies between the Synoptic Gospel and John. How do we handle them? Critics claim the timeline is irreconcilable. They make three points. 1) The cleansing of the temple occurs at different periods of Jesus ministry. 2) The Synoptic Gospels only have Jesus in Jerusalem once. That is during the last week of His life. John’s gospel has Jesus in Jerusalem 5 times. 3) John has Jesus begin His ministry in Judea. And it is during John’s lifetime. The synoptic gospels record Jesus ministry beginning in Galilee.

These are not contradictions. They are, at best, mysteries. But they are not very good mysteries. There are easy to reconcile.

Anyone writing a biography makes choices. That was true in ancient times. It is true today. They include some things and exclude others. That does not mean they are inaccurate. It does not mean they are biased. It does not even mean they are incomplete.

It depends on the story they are telling. Each gospel writer is telling a different story. Each gospel writer had a different goal or purpose. Each gospel writer has a different audience. If you read two books on George Washington you would expect different details. You would hope for different details.

Together all the gospels give a richer picture Jesus ministry. Do not despair that one gospel records something the others do not. Rather you should rejoice.

Mark is not denying a Judean ministry. Mark is recording the beginning of the Galilean ministry. It began after John’s arrest. Mark is not denying an earlier Judean ministry. It is not a part of the story he is telling.

Mark summarizes Jesus message to three points. First, the time is at hand. Second, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Third, repent and believe in the gospel.

The Kingdom of God is the final state. God’s reign is supreme. It is realized over all creation and in the hearts of His people. He has redeemed and glorified His people. The phrase “at hand” points to Jesus coming. It set in motion all the events needed to bring about the actualization of the Kingdom.

God requires repentance and belief in response to this news.

The gospel is not hard. Jesus summarized in three points. Now is the time. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe.

Mark shows Jesus calling disciples to follow Him. He takes fishermen. He does not enlist the religious elite. He makes them fishers of men. That is they are to call others to Christ.

This is the first appointed ministry of the emerging church. Its primary goal was seeking the lost. This emphasis on evangelism was not lost on Paul. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel.” (1 Cor. 9:16)

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