This is Episode #288 and today we’ll read Mark chapters 1-3 together. Mark starts us out with Jesus’ baptism and the unforgivable sin.
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #288 and today we’ll read Mark chapters 1-3 together. Mark starts us out with Jesus’ baptism and the unforgivable sin.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Intro to Mark
Welcome to the second book of the New Testament, Mark. Let’s do a little review. The first four books of the New Testament – the Gospels – are accounts of Jesus’ life here on earth. Four writers; four different perspectives; four audiences. Mark’s intended audience was the Roman believers. While Matthew’s readers, the Jews, were all over genealogies, lineages, and law to prove – or disprove – Jesus was the Son of God, Romans didn’t care about any of that stuff. They valued action. What did Jesus do? So you won’t see an account of Jesus’ birth here. Mark fast-forwards thirty years to when Jesus starts His ministry.
Interesting note about the author. John Mark, or Mark, was a follower of Peter. Justyn the Martyr in AD 150 referred to this book as the “memoirs of Peter.” This is amazing to me. Peter was such a staunch Jew. But his experience with Cornelius in Acts chapter 10 must have impacted him so much. That, my friend, is the power of the Gospel to change. Don’t be tempted to read ahead…we’ll get there right after the Gospels.
Finally, as you are reading the subsequent Gospel accounts, you will recognize some of these miracles and parables. But each account will be slightly different. Remember…four different perspectives. Just like you and I might watch the same event and come away with different things that stand out to us, these authors did too. That said, let’s dive in.
Mark Chapter 1
The Messiah’s Herald
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight!
John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. John wore a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.
He proclaimed, “One who is more powerful than I am is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
The Baptism of Jesus
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.”
The Temptation of Jesus
Immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels were serving him.
Ministry in Galilee
After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
The First Disciples
As he passed alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea — for they were fishermen. “Follow me,” Jesus told them, “and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat putting their nets in order. Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Driving Out an Unclean Spirit
They went into Capernaum, and right away he entered the synagogue on the Sabbath and began to teach. They were astonished at his teaching because he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not like the scribes.
Just then a man with an unclean spirit was in their synagogue. He cried out, “What do you have to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are — the Holy One of God!”
Jesus rebuked him saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit threw him into convulsions, shouted with a loud voice, and came out of him.
They were all amazed, and so they began to ask each other, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once the news about him spread throughout the entire vicinity of Galilee.
Healings at Capernaum
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went into Simon and Andrew’s house with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. So he went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve them.
When evening came, after the sun had set, they brought to him all those who were sick and demon-possessed. The whole town was assembled at the door, and he healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
Preaching in Galilee
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he got up, went out, and made his way to a deserted place; and there he was praying. Simon and his companions searched for him, and when they found him they said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
And he said to them, “Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come.”
A Man Cleansed
He went into all of Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. Then a man with leprosy came to him and, on his knees, begged him, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched him. “I am willing,” he told him. “Be made clean.” Immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. Then he sternly warned him and sent him away at once, telling him, “See that you say nothing to anyone; but go and show yourself to the priest, and offer what Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” Yet he went out and began to proclaim it widely and to spread the news, with the result that Jesus could no longer enter a town openly. But he was out in deserted places, and they came to him from everywhere.
Mark Chapter 2
The Son of Man Forgives and Heals
When he entered Capernaum again after some days, it was reported that he was at home. So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the doorway, and he was speaking the word to them. They came to him bringing a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they were not able to bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and after digging through it, they lowered the mat on which the paralytic was lying. Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
But some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts: “Why does he speak like this? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Right away Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were thinking like this within themselves and said to them, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat, and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” — he told the paralytic — “I tell you: get up, take your mat, and go home.”
Immediately he got up, took the mat, and went out in front of everyone. As a result, they were all astounded and gave glory to God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
The Call of Levi
Jesus went out again beside the sea. The whole crowd was coming to him, and he was teaching them. Then, passing by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and he said to him, “Follow me,” and he got up and followed him.
While he was reclining at the table in Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who were following him. When the scribes who were Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard this, he told them, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
A Question about Fasting
Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. People came and asked him, “Why do John’s disciples and the Pharisees’ disciples fast, but your disciples do not fast?”
Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the groom is with them, can they? As long as they have the groom with them, they cannot fast. But the time will come when the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day. No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new patch pulls away from the old cloth, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost as well as the skins. No, new wine is put into fresh wineskins.”
Lord of the Sabbath
On the Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and his disciples began to make their way, picking some heads of grain. The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”
He said to them, “Have you never read what David and those who were with him did when he was in need and hungry — how he entered the house of God in the time of Abiathar the high priest and ate the bread of the Presence — which is not lawful for anyone to eat except the priests — and also gave some to his companions?” Then he told them, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. So then, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Mark Chapter 3
Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a shriveled hand. In order to accuse him, they were watching him closely to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath. He told the man with the shriveled hand, “Stand before us.” Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. After looking around at them with anger, he was grieved at the hardness of their hearts and told the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Immediately the Pharisees went out and started plotting with the Herodians against him, how they might kill him.
Ministering to the Multitude
Jesus departed with his disciples to the sea, and a large crowd followed from Galilee, and a large crowd followed from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan, and around Tyre and Sidon. The large crowd came to him because they heard about everything he was doing. Then he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, so that the crowd wouldn’t crush him. Since he had healed many, all who had diseases were pressing toward him to touch him. Whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God!” And he would strongly warn them not to make him known.
The Twelve Apostles
Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons. He appointed the Twelve: To Simon, he gave the name Peter; and to James the son of Zebedee, and to his brother John, he gave the name “Boanerges” (that is, “Sons of Thunder”); Andrew; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
A House Divided
Jesus entered a house, and the crowd gathered again so that they were not even able to eat. When his family heard this, they set out to restrain him, because they said, “He’s out of his mind.”
The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and, “He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons.”
So he summoned them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand but is finished. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.
“Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for all sins and whatever blasphemies they utter. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” — because they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
His mother and his brothers came, and standing outside, they sent word to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him and told him, “Look, your mother, your brothers, and your sisters are outside asking for you.”
He replied to them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Looking at those sitting in a circle around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
In Mark 3:29 Jesus says “…whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin, because they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’” The Pharisees had witnessed Jesus healing a blind and mute demon-possessed man.
They should have dropped to their knees and praised him for the miracle He performed…but instead, these scribes from Jerusalem had accused Jesus of driving out demons through the power of Satan. Thereby, implying the Holy Spirit had no power. Jesus rebuffed them, pointing out that a house divided against itself cannot stand.
So, what exactly is this “unforgiveable sin” referred to in Mark 3:29? It is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, in this case ridiculing the Holy Spirit and attributing His works to the devil. The Pharisees were not ignorant of the works performed by Jesus. But they were hard-hearted and refused to believe what their eyes and ears told them.
Jesus did not fit their idea of a powerful and conquering king who would restore Israel to its former glory. They saw Jesus as a threat to their power and authority and were not interested in His message of forgiveness and repentance. The Pharisees were willing to do anything to undermine Jesus’ authority and the threat He presented to their tidy world.
If you are a Christian and are wondering if you have committed this unforgivable sin, let me refer you to what Lee Strobel, author of A Case for Christ, has to say on the matter: “Fear that one has done so is probably a good sign that one hasn’t, for full-fledged apostacy is a defiant rejection of everything Christian and lacks the tender conscience that would be worried about such an action.”
Let’s pray. Father God, I pray for the lost of this world. I pray they would come to know Your Son, Jesus Christ. I pray that they would reject the lies of Satan and accept Your gift of salvation. Forgive us for the times we doubt, when the worries of the world cause us to forget for a moment Who we belong to. Give us the confidence we need to share Your promises with others. Amen.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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