Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Beginning of Jesus' Ministry

Jesus began his ministry in Galilee after he faced temptation by Satan in the wilderness for forty days and John the Baptist was arrested. (Mark 1:14) As much as Jesus must have grieved over his cousin's, John the Baptist's, fate, He knew He had to do that which God had called Him to do, that is preach the Good News of God, which would bring hope and freedom to a lost and dying world.  The Good News continues to bring hope and freedom to the world. Like Jesus, we should not let crises and tragedies keep us from telling others about Jesus.  Regardless of our pain, there are people who are lost who need Jesus as their Savior, and without Him, they face the worst pain of all, eternal separation from God.

In Mark 1:15 Jesus declared that the prophesy had been fulfilled regarding a Savior, that God's kingdom is coming soon and that a person can enter God's Kingdom by repenting and believing in Him. Repentence and believe in Jesus for salvation are both acts of faith.

The first disciples that Jesus called were two sets of brothers, Simon and Andrew and James and John.  All four of these men were fishermen.  At the time that Jesus called them, Simon and Andrew were casting their nets while James and John were repairing their nets. (Mark 1:16-19)  Jesus could have called Scribes or Pharisees as His disciples, who on paper may have looked to be the most qualified candidates.  Instead, "Jesus called fishermen, hard-working and industrious people, to perform the most important task on earth:  being fishers of men." (Nelson's Student Bible Commentary

Once Jesus called Simon, Andrew, James and John to follow Him, they did immediately. (Mark 1:18 and 20)  There were no excuses, no procrastination, no comparing their options and no "what if's".  They expressed no worries about leaving behind their livelihood or their families.  Instead, they demonstrated faith by following Jesus.  This is a perfect example for us to follow:  when God calls us to do something, we should stop what we are doing and immediately do what we have been told to do.  Our obedience should be prompt and unconditional.  It is so simple, but we often complicate matters by superimposing our personal agendas and preferences. 

Jesus and his four disciples went to Capernaum.  "Capernaum was a thriving town with great wealth as well as great sin and decadence. Because it was the headquarters for many Roman troops, pagan influences from all over the Roman empire were pervasive. This was an ideal place for Jesus to challenge both Jews and non-Jews with the gospel of God's kingdom." (Life Application Bible Notes)  Because of the pervasive sin, Capernaum would not be easy place to make converts, but Jesus did not shy away from a task because it would be difficult and neither should we, if it is within God's will for us.

On the Sabbath when they arrived in Capernaum, Jesus immediately went to the synagogue and began teaching. (Mark 1:21)  We too like Jesus should attend church on the Sabbath, and we should serve and use our spiritual gifts when the opportunities arise.  Those in attendance were amazed by Jesus' teaching.  They knew that His teachings were different than the teachings of the Scribes because Jesus taught "as one having authority". (Mark 1:22)  Jesus had the ultimate authority since His authority came from God.  The Scribes had no authority because their teachings were not from God nor were the scribes called by God. (Adam Clarke's Commentary

While Jesus was teaching, He was interrupted by a demon possessed man who asked Jesus what did He want from them and had He come to destory them.  The demon went on to say that he knew who Jesus was -- "the Holy One of God". (Mark 1:23-24)  If even the demons acknowledge who Jesus is, it is difficult to understand how people can deny the existence of God.  The demon thought Jesus came to destory, but Jesus came to give life.  However, this was not a option for the demon, who was a fallen angel; the demon's fate had already determined -- eternal separation from Jesus. 

Jesus spoke to the demon and commanded him to come out of the man, and the demon obeyed Jesus' command. (Mark 1:25-26)  Words have power, particularly the words of Jesus Christ.  It also shows that even the demons are under God's ultimate control; they can only do what God allows them to do.  This amazed the crowd because they had never witnessed such an event before and wondered if this was some type of new teaching. (Mark 1:27)  "Note the contrast here, the demon knows who Jesus is and refuses to follow; the people flock to Jesus but don't know who he truly is."(A Follower's Response by Jeff Miller) As a result of Jesus casting out the demon, the news about Jesus spread throughout the region of Galilee (Mark 1:28) due to the type of miracle that was performed and because of the number of eyewitnesses that saw the event.

Mark 1:29-31 describes the visit to the home of Simon and Andrew by Jesus and his four disciples.  At the home was Simon's mother-in-law who was suffering a fever.  They told Jesus about her illness, and He went immediately to heal her.  Jesus healed her by touching her hand.  Jesus still works the same for us today when he learns of our problem, He has compassion for us and begins to work in the situation.  However, we, like the members of Simon's household, must not be afraid to tell Jesus of our need.  He already knows our situation; He only wants us to allow Him to help.  How Simon's mother-in-law responded to being helped by Jesus is a lesson to us -- she immediately began serving her guests.  Physical ailments may knock us out of commission for a while leaving us unable to serve Jesus and others, but once we are able, we should begin doing the work of the Lord without delay.

The miracles that Jesus performed were "meant to authenticate the teachings and identity of Jesus." (A Follower's Response by Jeff Miller)  Jesus does not want to be known as just a miracle worker and does not want people to come to Him only because He can perform miracles in their lives.  Even though Jesus has compassion for those who are hurting physically, mentally or emotionally and wants to help with these problems, His primary concern is our soul and our salvation.

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