TheGospel of Mark - Part 4

John Bennett, Pinxton, Nottingham [SEE PROFILE BELOW]

Part 4 of 5 of the series TheGospel of Mark

Precious Seed

The ministry begins, vv. 14-20 (continued)

The call of the ministry, vv. 16-20

It seems clear from Mark’s structure of events that those who accepted the Lord’s preaching were few. Rather than the multitude, there were four disciples who were prepared to leave their nets and follow the Saviour. Their call has a number of practical lessons:
l It was beyond social class – Simon and Andrew were ‘casting a net’, v. 16, in the relative shallows of the sea indicating they operated at a different level to that of James and John who were ‘in the ship’, v. 19.

  • It required immediate obedience – in both cases Mark emphasizes ‘and straightway’, vv. 18, 20.
  • It necessitated a complete break with the past – scripture clearly records, ‘they forsook their nets’, v. 18, and ‘they left their father’, v. 20. 1
  • It meant a close fellowship with the Saviour and a desire to learn of Him – ‘and followed him’, v. 18, and ‘went after him’, v. 20. Wherever the Saviour leads the disciple will go!
  • It preceded service – ‘I will make you to become fishers of men’, v. 17. The sense of these words indicates a slow process in making them soul winners. It would be in the measure that they went after the Saviour and learned of Him that they would be schooled to be ‘fishers of men’. 2
  • Although it had a cost, the Lord is no man’s debtor – ‘Zebedee . . . with the hired servants’, v. 20. Although James and John must have been key figures in the fishing business of their father, Luke tells us of the catch that was left to Zebedee when the Saviour called his sons, and here Mark adds that the hired servants would assist him in what the future held.
  • It involved men with different skills – ‘casting a net’, v. 16, and ‘mending their nets’, v. 19. Different gifts would be needed in the service of God and each of the four would serve in different ways.

The man with the unclean spirit, vv. 21-28

It is this miracle that Mark chooses to mention first in his gospel. It is a miracle that tells us of the need of the Servant’s ministry and the authority with which that ministry is to be accomplished. The key words would be ‘astonished’ and ‘authority’, for what the Saviour did was met with astonishment and what He did manifested His authority both in His words and in His deeds.

The surprise, vv. 21, 22

The Lord makes His way to the synagogue as the place where the people would gather on the Sabbath day. It is a place that gives Him opportunity to teach, a discourse of some length, and an audience that seemed ready to hear.
Mark does not record the content of the Lord’s message but He does record its effect, ‘They were astonished at his doctrine’, v. 22. Wuest comments, ‘They were astonished, ekplesso, a very strong word meaning, to strike with panic, shock in a passive sense to be struck with astonishment, amazed. The verb is in the pictorial imperfect, describing the prolonged amazement of the audience’. 3 Mark’s phraseology suggests that the astonishment was twofold. They were astonished at what He taught and the manner in which He taught. Their amazement was also ongoing. It continued throughout His discourse as new truth upon new truth was uttered. They were shocked out of their normal slumber, surprised by what they heard, stunned by the One who spoke.

Their conclusion was that the Saviour was a man who ‘taught them as one that had authority’, v. 22. He did not rely upon the teachings of others. He did not rely upon tradition and ritual. The Saviour spoke with a freshness and with an authority that was His own, derived from none other. What a testimony to the words of the Saviour.

The scene, v. 23

What makes the event remarkable is the scene in which it takes place. Mark tells us that ‘there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit’. It was ‘their synagogue’. Although it was a place that they had set aside for the worship of God and the teaching of the law, it was clearly their place and not one that was owned of God. This is underlined by the fact that in the midst of the synagogue was this man possessed with an unclean spirit. Alan Cole comments, ‘it is a strange commentary on the spiritual condition of Capernaum that a demoniac could worship in their synagogue with no sense of incongruity, until confronted by Jesus’. 4 The addition of the word ‘unclean’ exposes the nature of the possession. The spirit was impure, morally foul, and likely to render the man the same.

Mark does not tell us but we are liable to speculate upon how long this possessed man had been in the synagogue and how often he had attended. It would appear obvious that his presence had not been detected or exposed until the Saviour came and until He spoke.

The statement, v. 24

The presence of the Saviour causes this spirit to cry out, v. 23. The tension between the Saviour and the spirit was obvious as they were in moral and spiritual opposition. That opposition is clear from what the spirit said. He bore testimony to the Saviour.

  • His purity – ‘what have we to do with thee’; ‘the Holy One’. He spoke of the utter incompatibility of the two: unclean spirit and the Saviour. The Lord is the Holy One. The unclean spirit is from the evil one. They have nothing in common and their interests are completely separate. As such they repel each other and, hence, the cry of the one possessed.
  • His person – ‘Jesus of Nazareth’; ‘the Holy One of God’. What a testimony to the fact that here, in the person of the Saviour, was God manifest in flesh.
  • His power – ‘let us alone’; ‘art thou come to destroy us?’ The spirit testifies clearly to the ability that the Saviour has. He could, if and when He chooses, destroy this evil spirit and all those kindred spirits. The Saviour had come to destroy the works of the devil and the time could come.

The statement of the spirit is also remarkable in what it tells us of the spirit world. The man speaks as the mouthpiece for the unseen demon world. He expresses their fears and their expectation and testifies to the authority of the Saviour Himself.

The silence, v. 25

The Saviour does not welcome the testimony of the man with the unclean spirit. He has nothing in common with the unclean and evil world and does not seek, by default or by silence, to be associated with it. Hence, the man and the unclean spirit must be silenced and the man delivered. The Saviour issues His rebuke and His twofold command.
The language used is strong. The rebuke does not bring the unclean spirit to a conviction or acknowledgement of sin, but it is issued as a means of enforcing the silence that the Saviour requires. The phrase ‘hold thy peace’ is to muzzle the cry of the spirit and is followed by that command that will bring the release of the man.

The language used is simple. Only eight words are recorded as spoken by the Saviour. There is no elaborate ritual. The authoritative word of the Saviour is sufficient.

The struggle, v. 26

Though the unclean spirit must obey the command of the Saviour, for it is powerless to resist, it does not do so without a struggle. The man is convulsed in a spasm that affects his whole body. A loud shriek is uttered, whether in defeat or seeming defiance is not clear. Finally, Luke tells us that the man was thrown into the midst of the synagogue.
The struggle is short. The foe is defeated. The Saviour is triumphant. The victory is decisive and conclusive, ‘he came out of him’.

The story, vv. 27, 28

As the teaching of the Saviour sent a wave of surprise and shock through the synagogue, so this act of deliverance for the possessed man brought a fresh wave of shock and a resulting animated discussion. 

Marks tells us, ‘they were all amazed’, v. 27. It affected all the members of the synagogue. They were frightened, awe-struck at what they had witnessed. The sad thing was that their discussion was one that focused upon the words and actions of the Saviour. They ‘questioned among themselves’, v. 27. There was no thought for the person who could accomplish such things or command with such power. Hiebert comments, ‘How pathetic it is that they were occupied with the effect and failed to enquire further about the person before them’. 5

From that animated discussion within the synagogue, Mark tells us, ‘His fame spread abroad throughout all the region’, v. 28. The story was told. The message was spread.

 

Endnotes

1 ‘The prefixed preposition implies a separation, here, a separation from the fishing business to the preaching of the Word of God. The participle is in the aorist tense, speaking of a once for all action. It was a complete break from their former life, and a permanent one’, Wuest, pg. 29.
2 ‘The call implied the need for intensive training for the new task’, Hiebert, pg. 46.
3 Wuest, pg. 30. 
4 Alan Cole, Mark. An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale Press, 1969, pg. 61.
5 Hiebert, pg. 52.

AUTHOR PROFILE: JOHN BENNETT is a member of the Precious Seed committee.

There are 24 articles in
ISSUE (2018, Volume 73 Issue 4)

2 Kings

An Assembly of the Lord’s people will be a people among whom ... - Part 1 - The Lordship of Christ is Recognized

Chairman’s Notes

Character Studies in the Book of Proverbs - The Sluggard - Part4

Collected Writings of J. M. Davies Vols. 1-3 Compiled by Mervyn Wishart

Cover Image - ‘And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write’, Rev. 3. 14.

David's Roll of Honour

Editorial

TheEpistle to the Colossians - Part 3

From Glasgow to Garenganze Ian Burness

TheGospel of Mark - Part 4

Holiness

Missionary work amongst the Hutterites in Manitoba, Canada

New Testament Church Basics – Understanding Local Assembly Character and Purpose - Michael J. Penfold

Personalities in the Nativity - Mary

Postal Bible School - Canada

Question Time - Is it wrong for a Christian to go out with someone who is not saved?

Safeguarding Children at Church in England

The Messianic Psalms - PSALM 68

The voice from behind

The World, the Flesh and the Devil Jack Hay

Their Finest Hour - Mary Magdalene

What does the Bible tell us about the future? Part 1 - The last days of the Church on earth

Word for Today - Shebet

There are 4 articles in this series

The Gospel of Mark - Part 2

The Gospel of Mark - Part 3

TheGospel of Mark - Part 4

TheGospel of Mark - Part 5

There are 106 articles by this author

Hezekiah’s Confession

The Central Role of the King

On-Line Bible version 1.41

Hezekiah’s Revival

Day by Day Bible Promises

Light & Life Literature

Editorial - ‘We be brethren’, Gen. 13. 8.

Hezekiah’s Revival

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995

Editorial

The Precious Seed Web Site

Day by Day Divine Titles

God and the Nations

Eternal Security

Editorial - ‘Who is Apollos?’ 1 Cor. 3. 6.

Editorial - ‘Abstain from all appearance of evil’, 1 Thess. 5. 22.

The Chuch in Smyrna

Eternal Security

Day by Day - Bible Commands

The King in Psalm 45

Man’s Attitude to Christ

All Things

The Fear of the Lord

Approved

Could you ever love me again? Bob Cretney

Day by Day - Pictures and Parables

Editorial

Editorial

Editorial

Book Reviews

Prayer Moves Mountains John Williams

Editorial

R. B. Jones – Gospel Ministry in Turbulent Times N. Gibbard

Bible and Church Conference 2009 Peter Williams, Dirk Jongkind, Simon Gathercole

Christian Devotedness Anthony Norris Groves

Editorial

A Practical Theology of Missions: Dispelling the Mystery; Recovering the Passion

Psalm 119 For Life: Living Today In The Light Of The Word

Empty Arms Keren Baker

The Church the Body of Christ

On wings of prayer

Editorial - Do I seek to please men?

Laridian Bible Software

King Asa

King Jehoshaphat

Baptism Jack Hay

The Heavenly Physician Rommel Ghossain

Editorial - ‘For if ye do these things ye shall never fall’

Editorial - ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love’, Gal. 5. 22

e-magazine

The Tabernacle and the Offerings Albert Leckie

Roses, Marys & Others Betty Holt

Editorial - ‘Many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them’, Mark 2.

“Thank You, King James” – the tough life of Robert Hicks James Hastings

Editorial - ‘Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you’, Matt. 28. 20.

Editorial - ‘Apollos . . . mighty in the scriptures’, Acts 18. 24.

Amaziah – ‘thine heart hath lifted thee up’

Editorial

Editorial

Working with Senior Citizens - Part 2

Editorial - ‘Touched with the feeling of our infirmities’, Heb 4. 15.

David Livingstone

Editorial - ‘In whom we have . . . the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace’, E

Voice in the Darkness - Della Letkeman

The Messiah in the Temple - Roger Liebi

Show & Tell Colin D. Jones

Life in the Big Story – Your Place in God’s Unfolding Plan - Heidi Johnston

Led by His Hand - Malcolm Coombes, ex- R.N.

The Saviour God and His Servant King - Malcolm C. Davis.

Frederick Stanley Arnot: 1858-1914

Editorial - ‘Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others’, Phil

Making Disciples – The Thessalonian Way Tim Mather

Biblical Principles of Leadership - Dr. Alexander Kurian

Possessing the Inheritance – a Concise Commentary on the Book of Joshua Malcolm C. Davis

Replacement Theology David Dunlap

Editorial

William Rhodes Lewis 1877-1964

Editorial

J. Charleton Steen, 1865 - 1931

Editorial -

Editorial

The Prophet Gad

William Trotter 1818-1865

The Epistle to Philemon - Part 1

Epistle to Philemon

Editorial

Henry Craik 1805-1866

Editorial

Changes in the Precious Seed Trust

John R. Caldwell

Chairman’s Notes

At His Feet - Part 1

The Gospel of Mark

First Samuel

At His Feet: John 11 - Weeping at His Feet

Second Samuel

The Gospel of Mark - Part 2

At His Feet - Part 3: John 12 - Worshipping at His Feet

General Data Protection Regulation - Article 29 of the EU

The Gospel of Mark - Part 3

Robert Eugene Sparks 1844-1918

TheGospel of Mark - Part 4

Their Finest Hour - Mary Magdalene

Chairman’s Notes

TheGospel of Mark - Part 5

Major-General Sir Charles H. Scott, KCB, RA 1848-1919