Mark 1

The Word Made Fresh

1The good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was announced 2in the writings of Isaiah the prophet:

“Look; I will send my messenger to you to prepare your way. 3He will be a voice calling out in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the LORD’s way. Straighten God’s path.’”

4Then John appeared in the wilderness, calling for a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5People came from all around Judea and Jerusalem to confess their sins and to be baptized by him in the Jordan River.

6John wore clothing of camel hair bound around his waist with a leather belt. He lived on locusts and wild honey. 7He announced, “Someone more powerful than I is coming. I am unworthy even to bend down to untie his sandals. 8I am baptizing you with water but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

9And so it was that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee to be baptized by John in the Jordan, 10and when he stood up out of the water he saw the sky being torn apart, and the Spirit coming down like a dove to alight on him. 11A voice was heard from heaven, saying, “You are my Son whom I love. I am very pleased with you.”

12Then the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness. 13He was there with the wild animals for forty days, tempted by Satan, while angels attended him.

14After John was arrested Jesus returned to Galilee where he preached the good news of the kingdom of God. 15He told them, “The time is right! The kingdom of God has come to us. Repent, and believe the good news!”

16One day as Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee he saw the fishermen, Simon and his brother Andrew, throwing a net into the water. 17Jesus said to them, “Follow me. I will teach you how to fish for people.” 18They left their net immediately and followed him.

19A little further on he met James the son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in their boat mending their nets. 20Jesus called them and they immediately left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

21They went to Capernaum. When the sabbath came he went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22They were amazed at his teaching because he didn’t teach like the scribes, but rather taught like someone who knew what he was talking about. 23There was a man in their synagogue who was possessed with a troubling spirit. 24He called out, “What do you want from us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to ruin us? I know who you are – you’re God’s Holy One.“

25But Jesus said, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” 26And the troubling spirit shook the man with convulsions and came out of him screaming loudly. 27Everyone was shocked, and asked one another over and over, “What is this? He is teaching us something new, and he obviously has authority because he even orders the troubling spirits, and they obey him!” 28And Jesus’ fame began to spread throughout Galilee.

29He left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon and Andrew with James and John. 30They let him know right away that Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed, sick with a fever. 31Jesus took her hand and raised her upright. The fever left her, and she began to serve them.

32About sundown they began bringing to Jesus all those who were sick or demon possessed. 33The whole town gathered just outside the door. 34Jesus healed those who were sick, and cast out demons as well, but he wouldn’t let the demons speak because they knew who he really was.

35The next morning before sunrise he got up and went out to pray at a place that was deserted. 36Simon and his friends came looking for him. 37When they found him they told him that everybody was searching for him. 38But Jesus said, “Let’s go on to the other towns around here so that I can preach to them also, because that’s what I came to do.” 39He went all through Galilee, teaching his message in their synagogues and throwing out demons.

40A man with leprosy came to Jesus, begging him. He knelt before him and said, “If you want to you can make me well.”

41Jesus felt sorry for the man and reached out to him. He touched him and said, “I want to! Be well!” 42And the leprosy immediately disappeared. 43Then he sent the man away, warning him, 44“Don’t say anything to anybody. Go and let a priest examine you, and make an offering as Moses commanded to attest to your healing.”

45But the man left and immediately began to tell everyone. The word spread, and Jesus was no longer able to go into a town or village but had to stay out in the countryside. People still came to him, though, from everywhere.


1-8: Mark’s gospel begins with a quote from Malachi 3:1, which is used to herald the mission of John the Baptizer at the Jordan River, skipping over Jesus’ childhood altogether. Mark’s gospel is characterized by urgency. He uses the word “immediately” 28 times (compared to 12 in Matthew, 13 in Luke and 2 in John). John’s announcement in verses 7-8 sets the stage for the first appearance of Jesus in the story.

9-11: Unlike Matthew, Mark sees no need to report that John at first objected to baptizing Jesus (see Matthew 3:14).

12-13: In Mark, Jesus is “driven” by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted. In Matthew and Luke, he is “led” by the Spirit (Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:1).

14-15: Again Mark skips quickly ahead in the story. Jesus begins his ministry in Galilee only after John is arrested, and his initial ministry takes up where John’s left off, with the call to repentance.

16-20: Note the urgency with which the four fishermen drop everything and follow Jesus; this is a hallmark of Mark’s style.

21-28: The very first miracle reported in Mark’s gospel is an exorcism.

29-34: The healing ministry expands, first to those inside the movement Jesus has started, then to all who would come.

35-39: The first missionary journey undertaken by the disciples with Jesus is within the territory of Galilee. Again, the same pattern is followed: first proclaim the message of repentance, and then cast out demons.

40-45: The healing of the leper is a touching story. Unfortunately for Jesus, instead of going directly to a priest and be pronounced “clean,” the former leper ran around telling people what Jesus had done for him, making Jesus “unclean.” Jesus has to stay out in the countryside. However, the people come to him anyway.


Mark obviously thought his job was to tell how Jesus changed the lives of ordinary people like us. So, our job is also to tell how Jesus changes people’s lives. We do that in the way we speak and act. We do it in the way we keep the Sabbath. We do it by ministering to the sick and others who are struggling.