Mark 1

** Mark was a sister's son to Barnabas, #Col 4:10|; and #Ac

12:12| shows that he was the son of Mary, a pious woman of

Jerusalem, at whose house the apostles and first Christians

assembled. From Peter's styling him his son, #1Pe 5:13|, the

evangelist is supposed to have been converted by that apostle.

Thus Mark was closely united with the followers of our Lord, if

not himself one of the number. Mark wrote at Rome; some suppose

that Peter dictated to him, though the general testimony is,

that the apostle having preached at Rome, Mark, who was the

apostle's companion, and had a clear understanding of what Peter

delivered, was desired to commit the particulars to writing. And

we may remark, that the great humility of Peter is very plain

where any thing is said about himself. Scarcely an action or a

work of Christ is mentioned, at which this apostle was not

present, and the minuteness shows that the facts were related by

an eye-witness. This Gospel records more of the miracles than of

the discourses of our Lord, and though in many things it relates

the same things as the Gospel according to St. Matthew, we may

reap advantages from reviewing the same events, placed by each

of the evangelists in that point of view which most affected his

own mind.

* The office of John the Baptist. (1-8) The baptism and

temptation of Christ. (9-13) Christ preaches and calls

disciples. (14-22) He casts out an unclean spirit. (23-28) He

heals many diseased. (29-39) He heals a leper. (40-45)

#1-8. Isaiah and Malachi each spake concerning the beginning of

the gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John. From these

prophets we may observe, that Christ, in his gospel, comes among

us, bringing with him a treasure of grace, and a sceptre of

government. Such is the corruption of the world, that there is

great opposition to his progress. When God sent his Son into the

world, he took care, and when he sends him into the heart, he

takes care, to prepare his way before him. John thinks himself

unworthy of the meanest office about Christ. The most eminent

saints have always been the most humble. They feel their need of

Christ's atoning blood and sanctifying Spirit, more than others.

The great promise Christ makes in his gospel to those who have

repented, and have had their sins forgiven them, is, they shall

be baptized with the Holy Ghost; shall be purified by his

graces, and refreshed by his comforts. We use the ordinances,

word, and sacraments without profit and comfort, for the most

part, because we have not of that Divine light within us; and we

have it not because we ask it not; for we have his word that

cannot fail, that our heavenly Father will give this light, his

Holy Spirit, to those that ask it.9-13 Christ's baptism was his first public appearance, after he

had long lived unknown. How much hidden worth is there, which in

this world is not known! But sooner or later it shall be known,

as Christ was. He took upon himself the likeness of sinful

flesh; and thus, for our sakes, he sanctified himself, that we

also might be sanctified, and be baptized with him, #Joh 17:19|.

See how honourably God owned him, when he submitted to John's

baptism. He saw the Spirit descending upon him like a dove. We

may see heaven opened to us, when we perceive the Spirit

descending and working upon us. God's good work in us, is sure

evidence of his good will towards us, and preparations for us.

As to Christ's temptation, Mark notices his being in the

wilderness and that he was with the wild beasts. It was an

instance of his Father's care of him, which encouraged him the

more that his Father would provide for him. Special protections

are earnests of seasonable supplies. The serpent tempted the

first Adam in the garden, the Second Adam in the wilderness;

with different success indeed; and ever since he still tempts

the children of both, in all places and conditions. Company and

conversation have their temptations; and being alone, even in a

wilderness, has its own also. No place or state exempts, no

business, not lawful labouring, eating, or drinking, not even

fasting and praying; often in these duties there are the most

assaults, but in them is the sweetest victory. The ministration

of the good angels is matter of great comfort in reference to

the malignant designs of the evil angels; but much more does it

comfort us, to have the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit in our

hearts.
14-22 Jesus began to preach in Galilee, after that John was put

in prison. If some be laid aside, others shall be raised up, to

carry on the same work. Observe the great truths Christ

preached. By repentance we give glory to our Creator whom we

have offended; by faith we give glory to our Redeemer who came

to save us from our sins. Christ has joined these two together,

and let no man think to put them asunder. Christ puts honour

upon those who, though mean in this world, are diligent in their

business and kind to one another. Industry and unity are good

and pleasant, and the Lord Jesus commands a blessing on them.

Those whom Christ calls, must leave all to follow him; and by

his grace he makes them willing to do so. Not that we must needs

go out of the world, but we must sit loose to the world; forsake

every thing that is against our duty to Christ, and that cannot

be kept without hurt to our souls. Jesus strictly kept the

sabbath day, by applying himself unto, and abounding in the

sabbath work, in order to which the sabbath rest was appointed.

There is much in the doctrine of Christ that is astonishing; and

the more we hear it, the more cause we see to admire it.
23-28 The devil is an unclean spirit, because he has lost all

the purity of his nature, because he acts in direct opposition

to the Holy Spirit of God, and by his suggestions defiles the

spirits of men. There are many in our assemblies who quietly

attend under merely formal teachers; but if the Lord come with

faithful ministers and holy doctrine, and by his convincing

Spirit, they are ready to say, like this man, What have we to do

with thee, Jesus of Nazareth! No disorder could enable a man to

know Jesus to be the Holy One of God. He desires to have nothing

to do with Jesus, for he despairs of being saved by him, and

dreads being destroyed by him. See whose language those speak,

that say to the Almighty, Depart from us. This unclean spirit

hated and dreaded Christ, because he knew him to be a Holy One;

for the carnal mind is enmity against God, especially against

his holiness. When Christ by his grace delivers souls out of the

hands of Satan, it is not without tumult in the soul; for that

spiteful enemy will disquiet those whom he cannot destroy. This

put all who saw it upon considering, What is this new doctrine?

A work as great often is wrought now, yet men treat it with

contempt and neglect. If this were not so, the conversion of a

notorious wicked man to a sober, righteous, and godly life, by

the 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 for

his sake. Those kept from public ordinances by sickness or other

real hinderances, may expect the Saviour's gracious presence; he

will soothe their sorrows, and abate their pains. Observe how

numerous the patients were. When others speed well with Christ,

it should quicken us in seeking after him. Christ departed into

a solitary place. Though he was in no danger of distraction, or

of temptation to vain-glory, yet he retired. Those who have the

most business in public, and of the best kind, must yet

sometimes be alone with God.
40-45 We have here Christ's cleansing of a leper. It teaches us

to apply to the Saviour with great humility, and with full

submission to his will, saying, "Lord, if thou wilt," without

any doubt of Christ's readiness to help the distressed. See also

what to expect from Christ; that according to our faith it shall

be to us. The poor leper said, If thou wilt. Christ readily

wills favours to those who readily refer themselves to his will.

Christ would have nothing done that looked like seeking praise

of the people. But no reasons now exist why we should hesitate

to spread the praises of Christ.
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