Mark 1:21-45 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: these are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube video.

-Last week, we looked at the beginning of Jesus ministry as Mark sets a very brief stage for Jesus’ entrance. We started with a statement of who Jesus is (Son of God), moved quickly to John the Baptizer, then Jesus enters the scene and remains the focal point of the rest of Mark’s book. Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan River, is driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested, emerges refusing to give into the temptation, and begins His ministry by calling 4 disciples to follow Him: Peter and Andrew, James and John. 

-This week, we’ll see what it looks like when someone is completely dedicated to one aim. Have you ever met anyone with a drive like that? They are obsessed with that one goal, and nothing else matters. I had a friend like that in high school who was obsessed with basketball. Nothing else mattered except that. The rest of us would try to hang out and he wouldn’t until he got his shots in for the day. Even during other sports, he was still getting his shots in! He was so dedicated to basketball, that during the football season he got a stress fracture in his back from shooting too much! He was allowed to keep playing football, but not basketball, it almost killed him!

-Jesus was similar. He wouldn’t let anything distract Him from His one aim and goal in his earthly ministry. But what do you think that goal was?

-This is an important question for us to ask! We are supposed to continue Jesus’ ministry today! There’s a tendency for people to take things that are implications of Jesus’ ministry and try to move them into the center, which leads to an imbalance in how we’re living out and demonstrating the Christian faith. There are things that come out of Jesus’ primary ministry, but He always comes back to that which should be the most important. Let’s read the text and see what Jesus says is the primary purpose to His ministry.


-As soon as Jesus calls his disciples, He brings them straight into ministry. There’s no waiting period! Friends, as soon as you’re saved, God brings you in to His eternal plan to draw others to Himself. The minute you’re saved (brought from spiritual death to spiritual life) is the minute you’re given a job to do: to become a fisher of men. But how did Jesus demonstrate that? 2 things come out in today’s text: teaching and healing.

  1. Teaching (21-28)

-A majority of Jesus’ ministry takes place around or near the Sea of Galilee. 70 miles north of Jerusalem, about 13 miles away from His hometown of Nazareth. Freshwater lake over 600’ below sea level. 13 miles long, 8 miles wide

-Today’s text focuses on the ministry in Capernaum, which served as Jesus’ homebase during his ministry. It was also the home of Simon/Peter and Andrew. In fact, archaeologists believe they have uncovered Peter’s home, just steps away from the 1st century synagogue. This may be the exact place where Jesus stayed when He was in Capernaum, yet another evidence of the validity of what we’re reading here today!

-Capernaum was also the “big city” of its area, gathering place from many of the surrounding cities.

-What’s the first things Jesus does? Jumps in to teach

-Scribe doesn’t quite convey their position, “teacher of the law” or “religious authority.” Essentially they served as pastors, judges, and teachers all rolled up into 1 position.

-Look at the difference between the way they taught instead of the way Jesus taught. Jesus taught as one with authority. The scribes were only subservient to other people’s authority, so they would quote from other people to build their arguments. Apparently Jesus didn’t do that! And he didn’t need to, He was with Moses as the Law was written, He doesn’t need to appeal to anyone else!

-But someone was there who shouldn’t have been! A man with an unclean spirit, someone who is possessed by a demon comes into the synagogue to try to get rid of Jesus.

-Notice what the unclean spirit calls him the first time: Jesus of Nazareth. Contrast that with how Mark introduces us to Jesus twice already! vs. (the Christ, the Son of God), 11 (Beloved Son with whom God is well pleased). 

-Also follows spiritual ideas prevalent at the time: to use someone’s name invoked some spiritual power over them. We’ve uncovered some Jewish exorcism material that started by finding the demons name to demonstrate who the authority in this situation is. Jesus wasn’t the only person in the 1st century performing exorcisms, but He had the best batting average!

-But after first trying to demean Jesus, this spirit then admits who Jesus really is “The Holy One of God” Everyone in the world at some point will admit who Jesus really is! Even the demons will bow the knee to Jesus when He returns and fixes this broken world.

-How does Jesus deal with the situation? No incantation, no chants, or magic potions. He speaks. That’s all he needs to do! God’s words carry power and are effective. The same voice that created the world out of nothing can bring healing to the broken. 

-People don’t have a category for this. But notice what is emphasized: the teaching! The primary focus people have isn’t on the exorcism, instead it’s on the teaching. The healing is only done to validate Jesus’ teaching. Then it’s out of the teaching that comes the healing. And because of Jesus can both walk the walk and talk the talk His fame spreads quickly

  • Healing (29-34)

-But Jesus (at least in Mark’s Gospel) doesn’t stay in 1 place for too long! Immediately goes to Simon and Andrew’s house. House was most likely pretty close to the synagogue (remember that house they had uncovered? That was less than 100’ away from the synagogue. Someone in their home is sick

-Really briefly want to point something out here. How does one get a mother-in-law? You can’t even argue for an alternative translation of this word, no other interpretive options. Paul even brings up the fact that Peter is married in 1 Cor. 9:5. This points to the wide variety of backgrounds Jesus called as His first disciples. The fact that Peter was married meant He was willing to give up quite a bit to follow after Jesus!

-Fever was thought to be its own unique sickness, unlike us today who view it as a symptom of something else. We also see in Deut. 28:22 that a fever was viewed as divine punishment. And how does Jesus heal her?

-Takes her hand and lifts her up. No words even needed! No magical incantations, no potions, just pulls her up and she’s healthy. The word translated “left her” isn’t quite strong enough, it has more force in the Greek, more like it was forced away from her.

-Serving doesn’t denote a lower position or status, signifies how effective her healing was, she goes from being divinely chastised, to serving the Savior!

-“That evening” Sabbath was done, observed Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. 

-“All” could be a slight exaggeration (just as when you’re telling a story) or it could be literally everyone in the town who was sick was brought, just as in vs. 33 says the “whole city” (approximately 1,500 people at this time)

-“sick OR oppressed by demons” I’ve read all sorts of arguments that people in the 1st century just didn’t understand sickness the way we do today, they weren’t dumb! There is a difference between being sick and being affected by demonic powers. We often miss this today! It is tricky because it’s not always demonic forces. We are complex beings, mind, body, soul. Micah talked about the in detail last month, and we can’t just pick and choose one that we want to work on, they all interplay with each other. Carson (one of the best NT scholars in the world) says:        Don’t forget that Jesus is fully human. We have a tendency to read the NT accounts and just dismiss it as “well He’s God” which is true! But He’s also a human, just like you and me. 

-“Healed many” doesn’t mean some were left out, just that there was a LOT of healing taking place!

-Why can’t the demons speak? They prematurely knew him. Demons have better theology than we do because they see the spiritual realities that we often neglect or ignore around us. We’re only 34 verses into this book and we’re already seeing how important Jesus’ identity is! Remember, I shared that’s a theme throughout this book that the disciples constantly miss, so far the only ones who know Jesus’ real identity are the demons, and by silencing them He’s allowed to continue about His primary ministry, which we’ll see in the next section.

  • Teaching (35-39)

-After a long night of healing (have you ever thought of how exhausting that would have been to Jesus?) Jesus gets up early to pray.

-Descriptive, not necessarily prescriptive, the prescriptive reality is you should be spending time praying, talking with God. Create space somehow and some way to commune with Him.

-Sometimes it means sacrificing something good to focus on what God has actually called you to (a friend giving up fantasy football)

-“searched for him” is much more hostile: to pursue relentlessly or another stated “an attempt to determine and control rather than to submit and follow.” Once again we’re seeing the worst of the disciples! They have in their minds what the Messiah should look like, but Jesus doesn’t fit that mold.

-Jesus practices “subversive fulfillment.” Jesus subverts everyone’s expectations, twists them on their heads to cause people to reevaluate everything they think they know. But He doesn’t stop there, He goes on and provides an even better solution than the one people come up with on their own! So He practices subversive fulfillment. (subverts in that it confronts, unpicks, and overthrows the world’s stories” and “fulfils in that it connects and is shown to be worthy of our hopes and desires.”

-So often people think they know what they want, but they’re not even aware of the bigger realities taking place around them. Which is why Jesus tells so many people to be quiet, it’s not the right time or place, nor do they really know what they’re saying. It’s disconnected from reality. The way that Jesus demonstrates that He is what all these demons are saying is when He’s resurrected from the grave. We know it’s coming! His disciples don’t, they’re thinking Jesus has come to overthrow the Romans and establish Israel as THE nation on earth, but they’re thinking far too small.

-Jesus doesn’t let his newfound fame distract Him from His mission: to preach.

-Early disciples, and the crowds, thought Jesus’ primary ministry was healing and exorcising demons, and I think we see Jesus’ ministry similarly today! We see all these miraculous stories and think that’s the reason Jesus came, but notice how Jesus defines His ministry. 

-We today unfortunately separate these 2 realities: preaching and care for physical needs. We need both, but 1 has eternal significance. And this is what makes the church unique. The church has 1 thing that makes her different from any and every other organization: making and maturing disciples. The application or implementation of maturing leads to care for the poor and marginalized, but we cannot replace the primary focus with the implementation, otherwise our views will become distorted. 

-Massive differences in the way generations view evangelism. My generation is all social action, possibly in response to a previous generation that only emphasized preaching.

-Also a difference between what we as a church are called to do, and what we as individuals are called to do. Go and seek the welfare of our city! Invest deeply in your areas of influence, we pray that you will be successful in those pursuits! But not everyone has the same gifting or calling as you. That’s why we’re called a body throughout the NT, each part specializing in one area to help all of us function better together.

-“Preaching in their synagogues.” Wasn’t a rogue preacher, he was contextualized and intentional even in the places he preached. Example of why we need the church.

  • Healing (40-45)

-The last example of healing centers on an unclean person.

-Josephus, a 1st century Jewish historian recorded that lepers were regarded as walking corpses. They were just as unclean as a corpse, relegated to a life outside any community or other people. Had to dress and sackcloth, wear scraps as clothes, and walk around yelling “Unclean!” anywhere they’d go.

-As this man would have approached Jesus, it would have been like a tidal wave of people actively trying to run away from him. Think of the desperation this man felt as he disregarded all social norms and expectations and threw himself in front of Jesus. 

-“If you WILL, you CAN” It’s not a question of ability, it’s a question of desire

-Some debate about the word “pity” as some manuscripts have the word “anger” 

-Same word Paul uses on Eph. 4:26 “Be angry and do not sin.” Our anger tends to lead us to really bad places, Jesus’ anger is redemptive and restorative. Think of how frustrating it would have been to be Jesus, knowing how the world is supposed to be: a world without sin, without death, without sickness. Do you think he ever got angry at the state of the world?

-Touching was a BIG no-no. Leprosy was highly contagious, anyone who was touched immediately became unclean. But that’s not how it works with Jesus. 

-Think of it like this: what’s the best way to get rid of darkness. Light! How effective is the dark at defeating the light? Not a fair competition! That’s how any sickness or darkness is when held up to the light of the world. It’s gone! Instead of Jesus becoming unclean, the sickness is consumed in the cleanliness of the one, holy, perfect one. 

-Dear friends, this is true of all of us too. What’s that one secret sin you have, or issue you’re too ashamed and embarrassed to admit? One of the most difficult things to do is to admit we need help, to admit that we need cleansing so we don’t actually give all our needs to Jesus. Yet that’s exactly what He invites us to do. 

-Notice where Jesus ends up in vs. 45. He and the leper have exchanged places, which is what Jesus’ death on the cross has done for all of us. Don’t run away from Him, run towards Him. 

-And how do you run towards Him today? By embracing all the things He taught us. There’s an interplay between the teaching and the healing. We need the teaching to transform us, to conform us into His image. That’s why when Jesus commissioned His disciples (including us) He commanded to “teach everything He had commanded.” We now get to join with Jesus in bring teaching and healing to those we interact with, but that must begin with all of you.

-How would you summarize the primary point of Jesus’ ministry today? It begins with teaching, then works its’ way out into a transformed life. Will you listen to His teaching, and then be transformed, or will you continue to look away and try looking to the wrong solutions that Jesus wants to both subvert and fulfill? Wherever you’re at on that scale, you’re welcome here! We believe God created us as a church to demonstrate what subversive fulfilment looks like, seeking and saving the lost, being a unique people, loving and caring for each other.

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