We have been following the life and ministry of Jesus in Mark 1, and in today's passage, we read of Jesus coming out in Mark 1:38. This verse tells us one of the earliest purpose statements of Jesus. We know now that the purpose of Jesus is really about His death. One Bible scholar commented that the last week of His life takes up a lot of the gospels. But here in Mark, we learn something about Jesus’ purpose. Why did He come out? Where did He come out from?
How would you answer the following statement: "Jesus came to ____ (location) to _________ (action). There are many answers in the ultimate sense. But this text gives us a specific answer, as we will see.
(A) To advance on the world – are we confident in our King? (Mark 1:29-34)
Just before this, Jesus was in the synagogue where he had a dramatic encounter with a demon possessed man. In Mark 1:29, we read of 4 people who were previously mentioned in Mark 1:16. These were the ones that Jesus called to follow Him and as we read in the previous study, Mark wrote the account in a specific way. Mark tried to convey how following Jesus means one must leave something. They had followed Jesus to the synagogue, heard his teaching and saw him deal with a demon-possessed man. Now Simon and Andrew brought Him home, with James and John in tow (Mark 1:29). Jesus healed Simon's mother-in-law (Mark 1:30-31) and also healed those in the community that were sick or oppressed by demons (Mark 1:32-33).
What is Mark trying to tell us by putting these events one after another? Previously we saw how He taught with authority (Mark 1:22), and He also has authority over the spiritual realm (Mark 1:27). We do not like the word authority because it speaks of power, and it demands that we respond to it. If He is who He seems to be, it means that He has authority over us too! Here, we see how He has authority over illness (the natural world). In Gen 3, we know that the world as we know it is not supposed to be! It was not how He designed it to be. In God’s design, God is at the top, and He gives man authority and dominion. He gives man a helper and they are to rule over all creation. But they overturn this order and God curses the world (Gen 3:14-15).
Gen 3 shows us the world that we inhabit, and Jesus came to reverse the curse. Mark 1 shows us that with the arrival of Jesus, He is invading the world and is on the offense. This world is always falling away, but His kingdom is always pressing on. He is always pressing His authority into this world. Matt 13 tells us that His kingdom is like a mustard seed. His kingdom never looks impressive and it may seem small. It looks like a baby in a stable, not like a powerful king in a palace. It looks like a carpenter starting a rebellion. He looks like a man hung on the cross like a failed conspirator, in shame. To borrow a phrase from the book "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" by C.S. Lewis, it looks like it is always winter, never Christmas. But when spring slowly comes, you see winter ebbing. Aslan is on the move! Wherever Jesus goes, He makes winter cease. Isn’t this what we sing at Christmas?
In Mark 1:34, we are told that Jesus "would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him". Why do you think He wants this – what kind of confusion could it cause if He didn’t? Jesus did not want to confuse people. In Mark 3:22, the scribes accuse Him of getting His authority from a demon. But where does Jesus get His authority from? Jesus did not want the people to get information about His identity from the demons, lest they think that He is one of them. He is not from that kingdom!
This verse also shows us that the demons knew who Jesus is and also knew about His power. it is therefore possible to have all the theological knowledge but to also be against His purposes! We are the kind of people who fill our minds with truth. This text makes us ask if our minds are filled with truth but our hearts are not aligned. Jesus’ kingdom is one of truth and power. Are we a part of this kingdom only because of its truth? Have our hearts also been changed as we have repented and believed?
(B) To do His Father’s will – are we clear about our priorities? (Mark 1:35-36)
The next day, we are told that Jesus left early in the morning to pray (Mark 1:35). Mark provides us with a lot of information and detail in verse 35, and this has not gone unnoticed by Bible commentators. But what exactly was Jesus doing? Jesus was merely acting out His habit. His habit was to get up and leave everyone else just to be with His father. This is the same principle we see in verse Mark 1:16-20. Jesus modeled the leaving, by leaving the people to be alone with God.
We read this and think that it's impossible. But if we look to our parents and grandparents' generation, they often got up early to pray before work and before starting their day. But what about us? Do you ever get alone with God? In Jn 17:1-5, we read of Jesus' prayer. What kind of prayer is this? What kind of a relationship does He have? Why are our lives so cold and so different from the color of the NT? Perhaps there is too little of God and too much of our life crowding Him out.
Some of us know of the missionary Jim Elliot, who was killed on the mission field at the age of 29. What does it take for a man to give up everything and obey God in this way? He had a devotional life from early on, as documented in the book In the Shadow of the Almighty. He had decided from early on to wire himself not for himself but for His God. Girls were a distraction to him. So how is your heart wired? If your heart is wired for this world, every time
this world disappoints you, you will cry and be distraught. If you wire your heart to God, it may hurt when this world kicks you, but you will not be shattered. Jn 17 shows us Jesus' priorities and Jesus' heart. It also shows the relationship that He has with the Father. What kind of a relationship do you have with God?
(C) To preach good news – are we participating in Christ’s ministry? (Mark 1:37-39)
Simon and the disciples search for Jesus, and when they found Him, said, "Everyone is looking for you" (Mark 1:37). Simon was thinking of people and their problems that Jesus could solve. Jesus had already done a lot of healing (Mark 1:32-34).
Contrast Jesus' reply with Simon's statement. Jesus said, "Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out. (Mark 1:38)". Jesus had different expectations and priorities from Simon. Where Simon’s was small and limited, Jesus’ was larger.
We might be surprised, but let's pause to consider it a bit more closely. Do you think Jesus’ heart is as small as we imagine it to be? In verse 38, Jesus is not thinking about healing the sick or casting out demons. At this point in Mark, we know that Jesus came to this earth to preach. He came to preach good news. His priority was not what He could achieve with hands. Our mindset must be God-centered but it must also be about the soul. It just be about preaching. We see right at the start how Jesus made it His priority to be in the synagogue. After all, faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the word. It is not different for us today. The good news has to always be preached.
Jesus therefore leaves to go "throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons" (Mark 1:39). Jesus' priority is clear -- He is going to preach. As we read through the rest of Mark, we will continue to see how Jesus' teachings will draw attention to Himself and gets Him arrested, and eventually crucified. But this is not surprising. Right from the beginning, in Mark 1:14-15, Jesus came with a message of good news, because that is what changes our heart. On the cross, this message is proclaimed fully and completely.
Jesus knows that the sick who have been healed and those who have had demons cast out will still die. Only the gospel preached and believed in by faith will lead to life everlasting. Does the gospel come out of you like your greatest passion? Do people hear and see from you this good news? Some of us say we’re not evangelists, but there’s the little thing called the Great Commission which we are all called to (Matt 28:19-20). In Acts 6, we read of resource allocation and confusion in the church. What does they church do when they face this practical problem? The NT makes the preaching of the word a priority, and elects deacons so that the apostles and elders could focus on prayer and the word.
As we wrap up this study, we need to consider if this gospel is a priority for us? And not just
sharing the gospel in evangelism, but also preaching and teaching! This is why Jesus came! What will it look like in our lives? We will be people that long to hear it and also listen to the good news daily We will get our identity and security from it, and because it has changed and filled us, we prioritise and plan to hear it. This is the man whose life is built on rock. What are your priorities and confidence? How do you respond to the preaching of good news?