Mark 1** Mark was a sister's son to Barnabas, #Col 4:10|; and #Ac12:12| shows that he was the son of Mary, a pious woman ofJerusalem, at whose house the apostles and first Christiansassembled. From Peter's styling him his son, #1Pe 5:13|, theevangelist is supposed to have been converted by that apostle.Thus Mark was closely united with the followers of our Lord, ifnot himself one of the number. Mark wrote at Rome; some supposethat Peter dictated to him, though the general testimony is,that the apostle having preached at Rome, Mark, who was theapostle's companion, and had a clear understanding of what Peterdelivered, was desired to commit the particulars to writing. Andwe may remark, that the great humility of Peter is very plainwhere any thing is said about himself. Scarcely an action or awork of Christ is mentioned, at which this apostle was notpresent, and the minuteness shows that the facts were related byan eye-witness. This Gospel records more of the miracles than ofthe discourses of our Lord, and though in many things it relatesthe same things as the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we mayreap advantages from reviewing the same events, placed by eachof the evangelists in that point of view which most affected hisown mind. * The office of John the Baptist. (1-8) The baptism andtemptation of Christ. (9-13) Christ preaches and callsdisciples. (14-22) He casts out an unclean spirit. (23-28) Heheals many diseased. (29-39) He heals a leper. (40-45) #1-8. Isaiah and Malachi each spake concerning the beginning ofthe gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John. From theseprophets we may observe, that Christ, in his gospel, comes amongus, bringing with him a treasure of grace, and a sceptre ofgovernment. Such is the corruption of the world, that there isgreat opposition to his progress. When God sent his Son into theworld, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, hetakes care, to prepare his way before him. John thinks himselfunworthy of the meanest office about Christ. The most eminentsaints have always been the most humble. They feel their need ofChrist's atoning blood and sanctifying Spirit, more than others.The great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who haverepented, and have had their sins forgiven them, is, they shallbe baptized with the Holy Ghost; shall be purified by hisgraces, and refreshed by his comforts. We use the ordinances,word, and sacraments without profit and comfort, for the mostpart, because we have not of that Divine light within us; and wehave it not because we ask it not; for we have his word thatcannot fail, that our heavenly Father will give this light, hisHoly Spirit, to those that ask it.9-13 Christ's baptism was his first public appearance, after hehad long lived unknown. How much hidden worth is there, which inthis world is not known! But sooner or later it shall be known,as Christ was. He took upon himself the likeness of sinfulflesh; and thus, for our sakes, he sanctified himself, that wealso might be sanctified, and be baptized with him, #Joh 17:19|.See how honourably God owned him, when he submitted to John'sbaptism. He saw the Spirit descending upon him like a dove. Wemay see heaven opened to us, when we perceive the Spiritdescending and working upon us. God's good work in us, is sureevidence of his good will towards us, and preparations for us.As to Christ's temptation, Mark notices his being in thewilderness and that he was with the wild beasts. It was aninstance of his Father's care of him, which encouraged him themore that his Father would provide for him. Special protectionsare earnests of seasonable supplies. The serpent tempted thefirst Adam in the garden, the Second Adam in the wilderness;with different success indeed; and ever since he still temptsthe children of both, in all places and conditions. Company andconversation have their temptations; and being alone, even in awilderness, has its own also. No place or state exempts, nobusiness, not lawful labouring, eating, or drinking, not evenfasting and praying; often in these duties there are the mostassaults, but in them is the sweetest victory. The ministrationof the good angels is matter of great comfort in reference tothe malignant designs of the evil angels; but much more does itcomfort us, to have the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit in ourhearts. 14-22 Jesus began to preach in Galilee, after that John was putin prison. If some be laid aside, others shall be raised up, tocarry on the same work. Observe the great truths Christpreached. By repentance we give glory to our Creator whom wehave offended; by faith we give glory to our Redeemer who cameto save us from our sins. Christ has joined these two together,and let no man think to put them asunder. Christ puts honourupon those who, though mean in this world, are diligent in theirbusiness and kind to one another. Industry and unity are goodand pleasant, and the Lord Jesus commands a blessing on them.Those whom Christ calls, must leave all to follow him; and byhis grace he makes them willing to do so. Not that we must needsgo out of the world, but we must sit loose to the world; forsakeevery thing that is against our duty to Christ, and that cannotbe kept without hurt to our souls. Jesus strictly kept thesabbath day, by applying himself unto, and abounding in thesabbath work, in order to which the sabbath rest was appointed.There is much in the doctrine of Christ that is astonishing; andthe more we hear it, the more cause we see to admire it. 23-28 The devil is an unclean spirit, because he has lost allthe purity of his nature, because he acts in direct oppositionto the Holy Spirit of God, and by his suggestions defiles thespirits of men. There are many in our assemblies who quietlyattend under merely formal teachers; but if the Lord come withfaithful ministers and holy doctrine, and by his convincingSpirit, they are ready to say, like this man, What have we to dowith thee, Jesus of Nazareth! No disorder could enable a man toknow Jesus to be the Holy One of God. He desires to have nothingto do with Jesus, for he despairs of being saved by him, anddreads being destroyed by him. See whose language those speak,that say to the Almighty, Depart from us. This unclean spirithated and dreaded Christ, because he knew him to be a Holy One;for the carnal mind is enmity against God, especially againsthis holiness. When Christ by his grace delivers souls out of thehands of Satan, it is not without tumult in the soul; for thatspiteful enemy will disquiet those whom he cannot destroy. Thisput all who saw it upon considering, What is this new doctrine?A work as great often is wrought now, yet men treat it withcontempt and neglect. If this were not so, the conversion of anotorious wicked man to a sober, righteous, and godly life, bythe preaching of a crucified Saviour, would cause many to ask,What doctrine is this? 29-39 Wherever Christ comes, he comes to do good. He cures,that we may minister to him, and to others who are his, and forhis sake. Those kept from public ordinances by sickness or otherreal hinderances, may expect the Saviour's gracious presence; hewill soothe their sorrows, and abate their pains. Observe hownumerous the patients were. When others speed well with Christ,it should quicken us in seeking after him. Christ departed intoa solitary place. Though he was in no danger of distraction, orof temptation to vain-glory, yet he retired. Those who have themost business in public, and of the best kind, must yetsometimes be alone with God. 40-45 We have here Christ's cleansing of a leper. It teaches usto apply to the Saviour with great humility, and with fullsubmission to his will, saying, "Lord, if thou wilt," withoutany doubt of Christ's readiness to help the distressed. See alsowhat to expect from Christ; that according to our faith it shallbe to us. The poor leper said, If thou wilt. Christ readilywills favours to those who readily refer themselves to his will.Christ would have nothing done that looked like seeking praiseof the people. But no reasons now exist why we should hesitateto spread the praises of Christ.
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