Verses of Mark 1
Mark 1:1 Commentary - Grant's Numerical Bible Notes and CommentarySubdivision 1. (Mar 1:1-13.)
The Person who comes to serve.
We begin now, with the second of the synoptists, the fruitful work of comparison between them. To this the remarkable similarity in much, the very words being as if copied from one to the other, with the equally apparent differences, which to many often seem to amount to contradictions, on either side invite us. These differences are, for the most part, such as none can claim the merit of having discovered, - they do not need a great deal of searching out: they lie on the surface, and appeal to every reader to inquire as to their meaning. If we have the happiness of being among the number of those who still accredit Scripture as inspired of God, we shall not be surprised to find that not only will this inquiry assure us that there is no contradiction but that God has awakened it in order to reward our search in His own abundant way. We shall do well to give attention to the differences. Our sense of the reality and value of verbal inspiration will assuredly deepen as the result of this, and the truth of God will acquire fresh distinctness, certainty, and power over us.
(1) In both Matthew and Mark, nay, in all the Gospels, the Person of the Lord is necessarily the first thing put before us; but in very different ways. Matthew, presenting to us the Son of David, gives as the foundation of all His legal title in His genealogy. Mark, as we see, has nothing of the sort. And yet His title to the place He takes is as much affirmed in Mark as in Matthew. But title to serve, what will give that? If there be power for it, and heart, nothing else is needed. Serving is love's prerogative, wherever power and need are found together. Thus that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is for Mark the explanation of his Gospel. Power cannot fail the Son of God; and love is demonstrated in the fact that the Son of God is become the Man Christ Jesus.
To this is added that He comes in the foretold way: the Shepherd comes through the door into the sheepfold, which the Lord speaks of to the Jews as the sign that He is the Shepherd. Here, therefore, the testimony of two prophets is brought forward: Malachi of a messenger divinely sent to prepare the way of Christ; Isaiah giving the voice of that messenger addressed to Israel to prepare His way: the way of the Lord (or Jehovah), Messiah being Himself Jehovah. To make His paths straight, how much was involved in that!
(2) Mark passes on to the testimony of the forerunner: not even pausing for a moment to record the birth of Jesus, as both Matthew and Luke do, he begins his history with the account of the Baptist. Even here he is briefer than either of the others. He shows you the man himself in his rough and independent garb, as Matthew does. He tells you with both the others of his baptism of repentance, and with Luke that it is for the remission of sins. He shows you the people flocking to his baptism from all the country round; but he does not give, as Matthew and Luke do, any details of his address to them, but simply his testimony to Christ Himself, to the glory of His Person and His better baptism, with the Holy Spirit.
Thus it is plain, if Mark abridges, it is an abridgment with a purpose. He is taking our eyes as much as possible off other things, to fix them upon the Person who is coming forth to minister, so glorious in Himself, so wondrous in the gift He brings: the Son of God, and baptizing with the Holy Spirit!
(3) But He has higher witness than that of John; and now we see Him coming forth from Nazareth of Galilee, and Himself baptized of John in Jordan. This is indeed the pledge in which He devotes Himself, as we have seen in Matthew, to the path of service which lies before Him. It is His "Lo, I am come," and Jordan prefigures the death which is "written of Him in the volume of the book," in its law of sacrifice.
His vows are now upon Him; and immediately as He comes up out of the water, the heavens are opened, and the Spirit like a dove descends upon Him - the bird of heaven; the bird of love, the bird of sorrow, the bird of sacrifice, - and the Father's voice owns the object of His delight, His well-beloved Son. There is little variation as to all this in the three Gospels: it is plainly fundamental to them all. (See Notes on Mat 3:13-17).
(4) Now once again; Mark hastens over what Matthew and Luke detail with equal care, the temptation in the wilderness. We are merely told of the fact of it, and Mark adds that "He was with the wild beasts." This is in no wise as if they threatened Him. He was the Lord of nature, - the Creator; and as the Second Man; all was in His hand. The angels, ministry was not at all, as Meyer thinks, "a sustaining support against Satan and the beasts," which in the first case would have been only a dishonor to Him, and in the second would have involved a breach between nature and Himself. They came, as Matthew shows, when the temptation was ended, and to minister to His bodily need.
Thus the Lord is put before us, however briefly, in all His relations, not only to the world, in which now we are to see Him serving. The world is already marked out as a world in departure from God, wherein the people specially the object of God's love and care have to be called to make straight His paths before Him by taking themselves their place in the baptism of repentance as those rightly under death because of sin. Into this death He who would serve them effectually must come, and to this His baptism pledges Him. Thus He can minister to all lesser needs which result from this condition.
Verses of Mark 1
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Grant's Numerical Bible Notes and Commentary
Frederick William Grant (1834 - 1902) was a Brethren biblical scholar, renowned for his studies in the structural and numerical form and content.