The Preaching and Baptism of John. ( =
Mt 3:1-12; Lu 3:1-18).
1. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,
the Son of God—By the "Gospel" of Jesus Christ here is
evidently meant the blessed Story which our Evangelist is about to tell
of His Life, Ministry, Death, Resurrection, and Glorification, and of
the begun Gathering of Believers in His Name. The abruptness with which
he announces his subject, and the energetic brevity with which, passing
by all preceding events, he hastens over the ministry of John and
records the Baptism and Temptation of Jesus—as if impatient to
come to the Public Life of the Lord of glory—have often been
noticed as characteristic of this Gospel—a Gospel whose direct,
practical, and singularly vivid setting imparts to it a preciousness
peculiar to itself. What strikes every one is, that though the briefest
of all the Gospels, this is in some of the principal scenes of our
Lord's history the fullest. But what is not so obvious is, that
wherever the finer and subtler feelings of humanity, or the deeper and
more peculiar hues of our Lord's character were brought out, these,
though they should be lightly passed over by all the other Evangelists,
are sure to be found here, and in touches of such quiet delicacy and
power, that though scarce observed by the cursory reader, they leave
indelible impressions upon all the thoughtful and furnish a key to much
that is in the other Gospels. These few opening words of the Second
Gospel are enough to show, that though it was the purpose of this
Evangelist to record chiefly the outward and palpable facts of our
Lord's public life, he recognized in Him, in common with the Fourth
Evangelist, the glory of the Only-begotten of the Father.
2, 3. As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I
send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before
thee—(Mal 3:1; Isa 40:3).
3. The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight—The
second of these quotations is given by Matthew and Luke in the same
connection, but they reserve the former quotation till they have
occasion to return to the Baptist, after his imprisonment (Mt 11:10; Lu
7:27). (Instead of the words,
"as it is written in the Prophets," there is weighty evidence in favor
of the following reading: "As it is written in Isaiah the prophet."
This reading is adopted by all the latest critical editors. If it be
the true one, it is to be explained thus—that of the two
quotations, the one from Malachi is but a later development of the
great primary one in Isaiah, from which the whole prophetical matter
here quoted takes its name. But the received text is quoted by Irenæus, before the end of the second
century, and the evidence in its favor is greater in amount, if
not in weight. The chief objection to it is, that if this was the true
reading, it is difficult to see how the other one could have got in at
all; whereas, if it be not the true reading, it is very easy to see how
it found its way into the text, as it removes the startling difficulty
of a prophecy beginning with the words of Malachi being ascribed to
Isaiah.) For the exposition, see on Mt 3:1-6; Mt 3:11.
Baptism of Christ and Descent of the Spirit
upon Him Immediately Thereafter. ( = Mt
3:13-17; Lu 3:21, 22).
See on Mt 3:13-17.
Mr 1:12, 13. Temptation of
Christ. ( = Mt 4:1-11; Lu 4:1-13).
See on Mt 4:1-11.
Mr 1:14-20. Christ Begins
His Galilean Ministry—Calling of
Simon and Andrew, James and John.
See on Mt 4:12-22.
Mr 1:21-39. Healing of a
Demoniac in the Synagogue of Capernaum and Thereafter of Simon's
Mother-in-Law and Many
Others—Jesus, Next Day, Is Found
in a Solitary Place at Morning Prayers, and Is Entreated to Return, but
Declines, and Goes Forth on His First
Missionary Circuit. ( = Lu 4:31-44; Mt
21. And they went into Capernaum—(See on
and straightway on the sabbath day he entered
into the synagogue, and taught—This should have been
rendered, "straightway on the sabbaths He entered into the synagogue
and taught," or "continued to teach." The meaning is, that as He began
this practice on the very first sabbath after coming to settle at
Capernaum, so He continued it regularly thereafter.
22. And they were astonished at his
doctrine—or "teaching"—referring quite as much to the
manner as the matter of it.
for he taught them as one that had authority,
and not as the scribes—See on Mt 7:28,
23. And there was in their synagogue a man with an
unclean spirit—literally, "in an unclean spirit"—that
is, so entirely under demoniacal power that his personality was sunk
for the time in that of the spirit. The frequency with which this
character of "impurity" is ascribed to evil spirits—some twenty
times in the Gospels—is not to be overlooked.
and he cried out—as follows:
24. Saying, Let us alone—or rather,
perhaps, "ah!" expressive of mingled astonishment and
what have we to do with thee—an
expression of frequent occurrence in the Old Testament (1Ki
17:18; 2Ki 3:13; 2Ch 35:21,
&c.). It denotes entire separation of interests:—that
is, "Thou and we have nothing in common; we want not Thee; what wouldst
Thou with us?" For the analogous application of it by our Lord to His
mother, see on Joh 2:4.
thou Jesus of Nazareth—"Jesus,
Nazarene!" an epithet originally given to express contempt, but soon
adopted as the current designation by those who held our Lord in honor
(Lu 18:37; Mr 16:6; Ac 2:22).
art thou come to destroy us?—In the
case of the Gadarene demoniac the question was, "Art Thou come hither
to torment us before the time?" (Mt 8:29). Themselves tormentors and destroyers
of their victims, they discern in Jesus their own destined tormentor
and destroyer, anticipating and dreading what they know and feel to be
awaiting them! Conscious, too, that their power was but permitted and
temporary, and perceiving in Him, perhaps, the woman's Seed that was to
bruise the head and destroy the works of the devil, they regard His
approach to them on this occasion as a signal to let go their grasp of
this miserable victim.
I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of
God—This and other even more glorious testimonies to our Lord
were given, as we know, with no good will, but in hope that, by the
acceptance of them, He might appear to the people to be in league with
evil spirits—a calumny which His enemies were ready enough to
throw out against Him. But a Wiser than either was here, who invariably
rejected and silenced the testimonies that came to Him from beneath,
and thus was able to rebut the imputations of His enemies against Him
12:24-30). The expression,
"Holy One of God," seems evidently taken from that Messianic Psalm
16:10), in which He is styled
"Thine Holy One."
25. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace,
and come out of him—A glorious word of command. Bengel remarks that it was only the testimony borne
to Himself which our Lord meant to silence. That he should afterwards
cry out for fear or rage (Mr 1:26) He
would right willingly permit.
26. And when the unclean spirit had torn
him—Luke (Lu 4:35)
says, "When he had thrown him in the midst." Malignant
cruelty—just showing what he would have done, if permitted
to go farther: it was a last fling!
and cried with a loud voice—the voice
of enforced submission and despair.
he came out of him—Luke (Lu 4:35) adds, "and hurt him not." Thus impotent
were the malignity and rage of the impure spirit when under the
restraint of "the Stronger than the strong one armed" (Lu 11:21, 22).
27. What thing is this? what new
is this?—The audience, rightly
apprehending that the miracle was wrought to illustrate the teaching
and display the character and glory of the Teacher, begin by asking
what novel kind of teaching this could be, which was so marvellously
28. And immediately his fame spread abroad
throughout all the region round about Galilee—rather, "the
whole region of Galilee"; though some, as Meyer and Ellicott,
explain it of the country surrounding Galilee.
29. And forthwith, when they were come out of the
synagogue—so also in Lu 4:38.
they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew,
with James and John—The mention of these four—which is
peculiar to Mark—is the first of those traces of Peter's hand in
this Gospel, of which we shall find many more. The house being his, and
the illness and cure so nearly affecting himself, it is interesting to
observe this minute specification of the number and names of the
witnesses; interesting also as the first occasion on which the sacred
triumvirate of Peter and James and John are selected from among the
rest, to be a threefold cord of testimony to certain events in their
Lord's life (see on Mr 5:37)—Andrew being
present on this occasion, as the occurrence took place in his own
30. But Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a
fever—Luke, as was natural in "the beloved physician"
4:14), describes it
professionally; calling it a "great fever," and thus distinguishing it
from that lighter kind which the Greek physicians were wont to call
"small fevers," as Galen, quoted by
Wetstein, tells us.
they tell him of her—naturally hoping
that His compassion and power towards one of His own disciples would
not be less signally displayed than towards the demonized stranger in
31. And he came and took her by the
hand—rather, "And advancing, He took her," &c. The
beloved physician again is very specific: "And He stood over her."
and lifted her up—This act of
condescension, most felt doubtless by Peter, is recorded only by
and immediately the fever left her, and she
ministered unto them—preparing their sabbath-meal: in token
both of the perfectness and immediateness of the cure, and of her
gratitude to the glorious Healer.
32. And at even, when the sun did set—so
Mt 8:16. Luke (Lu 4:40) says it was setting.
they brought unto him all that were diseased,
and them that were possessed with devils—the demonized. From
13:14 we see how unlawful
they would have deemed it to bring their sick to Jesus for a cure
during the sabbath hours. They waited, therefore, till these were over,
and then brought them in crowds. Our Lord afterwards took repeated
occasion to teach the people by example, even at the risk of His own
life, how superstitious a straining of the sabbath rest this was.
33. And all the city was gathered together at the
door—of Peter's house; that is, the sick and those who
brought them, and the wondering spectators. This bespeaks the presence
of an eye-witness, and is one of those lively examples of word-painting
so frequent in this Gospel.
34. And he healed many that were sick of divers
diseases, and cast out many devils—In Mt 8:16 it is said, "He cast out the spirits
with His word"; or rather, "with a word"—a word of command.
and suffered not the devils to speak, because
they knew him—Evidently they would have spoken, if
permitted, proclaiming His Messiahship in such terms as in the
synagogue; but once in one day, and that testimony immediately
silenced, was enough. See on Mr 1:24. After this
account of His miracles of healing, we have in Mt 8:17 this pregnant quotation, "That it might
be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying (Isa 53:4), Himself took our infirmities,
and bare our sicknesses."
35. And in the morning—that is, of the
day after this remarkable sabbath; or, on the first day of the
week. His choosing this day to inaugurate a new and glorious stage
of His public work, should be noted by the reader.
rising up a great while before
day—"while it was yet night," or long before daybreak.
he went out—all unperceived from
Peter's house, where He slept.
and departed into a solitary place, and there
prayed—or, "continued in prayer." He was about to begin His
first preaching and healing circuit; and as on similar solemn occasions
(Lu 5:16; 6:12; 9:18, 28, 29; Mr 6:46), He spent some time in special prayer,
doubtless with a view to it. What would one not give to have been,
during the stillness of those grey morning hours, within
hearing—not of His "strong crying and tears," for He had scarce
arrived at the stage for that—but of His calm, exalted
anticipations of the work which lay immediately before Him, and the
outpourings of His soul about it into the bosom of Him that sent Him!
He had doubtless enjoyed some uninterrupted hours of such communings
with His heavenly Father ere His friends from Capernaum arrived in
search of Him. As for them, they doubtless expected, after such a day
of miracles, that the next day would witness similar manifestations.
When morning came, Peter, loath to break in upon the repose of his
glorious Guest, would await His appearance beyond the usual hour; but
at length, wondering at the stillness, and gently coming to see where
the Lord lay, he finds it—like the sepulchre
afterwards—empty! Speedily a party is made up to go in search of
Him, Peter naturally leading the way.
36. And Simon and they that were with him followed
after him—rather, "pressed after Him." Luke (Lu 4:42) says, "The multitudes sought after
Him"; but this would be a party from the town. Mark, having his
information from Peter himself, speaks only of what related directly to
him. "They that were with him" would probably be Andrew his brother,
James and John, with a few other choice brethren.
37. And when they had found
him—evidently after some search.
they said unto him, All men seek for
thee—By this time, "the multitudes" who, according to Luke
4:42), "sought after
Him"—and who, on going to Peter's house, and there learning that
Peter and a few more were gone in search of Him, had set out on the
same errand—would have arrived, and "came unto Him and stayed
Him, that He should not depart from them" (Lu 4:42); all now urging His return to their
38. And he said unto them, Let us go—or,
according to another reading, "Let us go elsewhere."
into the next towns—rather, "unto the
neighboring village-towns"; meaning those places intermediate between
towns and villages, with which the western side of the Sea of Galilee
that I may preach there also; for therefore came
I forth—not from Capernaum, as De
Wette miserably interprets, nor from His privacy in the desert
place, as Meyer, no better; but from the
Father. Compare Joh 16:28,
"I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world,"
&c.—another proof, by the way, that the lofty phraseology of
the Fourth Gospel was not unknown to the authors of the others, though
their design and point of view are different. The language in which our
Lord's reply is given by Luke (Lu 4:43) expresses the high necessity under
which, in this as in every other step of His work, He acted—"I
must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also; for
therefore"—or, "to this end"—"am I sent." An act of
self-denial it doubtless was, to resist such pleadings to return to
Capernaum. But there were overmastering considerations on the other
Mr 1:40-45. Healing of a
Leper. ( = Mt 8:1-4; Lu 5:12-16).
See on Mt 8:1-4.