In his epistle written around A.D. 66, John Mark began his letter by introducing John The Baptist, God’s messenger by describing how his role was to announce the coming of the Messiah, and baptize Him in the Jordan River so Jesus could fulfill all righteousness, and be identify with those He came to redeem.
After He was baptized, Christ was tested by Satan in the wilderness for forty days but the Messiah persevered and resisted temptation as He prepared for His ministry, which He started in Galilee while John The Baptist was imprisoned for rebuking Herod Antipas.
The Lord’s ministry began along the Sea of Galilee where He recruited His first four apostles, Simon, Andrew, James and John, who were all fishermen from Capernaum, a small fishing village located on the northern shore of the lake. This was the location where Jesus performed His first recorded miracle when He healed a possessed man, delivering him from a demon. Jesus followed His first miracle with another when He miraculously healed Simon’s mother in law who was gravely ill, then as word spread about these healings, the entire population of the city gathered outside the house door where Jesus answered the call to heal the sick.
Then, Jesus embarked on a missionary journey through the region which eventually lead him back to Capernaum where He furthered His ministry through preaching and healing the sick. But, when He healed a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees and Herodians began plotting to kill Him.
Before they could get to Him, Jesus chose His twelve apostles. The first was Simon, whom Jesus renamed Peter. Next came James, one of the “Sons of Thunder” who accepted the call to follow Jesus along with his brother John, Andrew, the dean of His apostolic corps Philip, the curious, Bartholomew, the honest one, then Matthew, the “money-getter” for the ministry, Thomas, the doubter as well as the twins, James and Thaddaeus Alphaeus, the group’s chief ushers, Simon, the Zealot and lastly, Judas, the traitor.
After they returned to Capernaum, Jesus and His apostles walked into a house where the Messiah confronted scribes who were out to get Him arrested, claiming He was possessed. But, Jesus rebuked them, then He continued to exhort them while He enlightened the others present, eventually warning those who blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, that their spiritual destiny involved suffering and agony, forever.
While He was teaching, Jesus’ mother and brothers came for Him claiming He was not of right mind, in hope this would dissuade the Scribes and stop the plot to arrest the Messiah. When He heard His family was outside the house, Jesus revealed His plan for His church, that all those who believe would become part of a family, a spiritual body.
Next, for the second time at Capernaum, Jesus resorted to the sea to further His ministry. This time, the Messiah leveraged the natural ability for water to carry sound, as He continued to teach the multitude using parables, starting with the parable of the sower, which He followed by a statement meant for those who reject Him, that parables could only be understood by seekers and believers alike.
Later, when He was alone with the twelve, Jesus continued to enlighten His apostles by revealing the mystery found in the parable of the sower, that, among those who hear the word of God, only a few will receive the word, believe and be saved from the wages of sin which is death and agony, forever.
Jesus followed His exhortation with the parable of the light under a basket, calling on His followers to spread His love throughout the world, then He carried on with more parables, including the parable of the mustard seed in which the divine Teacher compared the evolution of the kingdom of God to the greatest of miracles among its kind, that the smallest of all seeds would grow to be the largest plant of its kind.
Next, Jesus revealed how He used parables to enlighten seekers and believers alike, and the same parables to obscure the minds of those who deny the truth or reject His deity.
After this, Jesus performed a miracle as He rebuked the wind and the waves while He was crossing the sea of Galilee, onto Gersa, located directly across the Sea from Capernaum where the Lord miraculously healed a possessed man by casting out his demons.
Because they were afraid of Him, those at Gersa requested Jesus leave their Land, and upon His return to Capernaum, He performed two more miracles. The first happened when Jesus healed a woman who touched His garment, and also brought a prominent Jewish man’s child back to life.
However, when He came to Nazareth, the town where He grew up, Jesus was not well received by those who knew Him as a child or were acquainted with members of His family. The journey throughout Galilee continued until the day when Jesus called the twelve and sent them out two by two, giving each one power over unclean spirits.
When they returned from their first missionary journey, the apostles retreated to a remote place where they could rest and recharge. Since they were with Jesus, a multitude tagged along and when they arrived at their destination, the size of the crowd and timing for the gathering presented Jesus with a perfect opportunity to showcase His divine power as 10,000 people were fed and twelve baskets of food were left over after God multiplied five loaves of bread and two fish so all could eat.
Next, to reinforce their faith in Him, Jesus put His disciples in harm’s way when He sent them onto Bethsaida, a small fishing village located across the Sea of Galilee where He later rescued them as He walked on the water to the boat where He calmed the wind and water.
When they reached the shore, the wind had carried the boat to Gennesaret where a healing journey began during which many were given new life, both physically and spiritually.
“7 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem.” (Mark 7:1)
Mark then tells us about Jewish drones who were sent from Jerusalem to spy on Jesus, and find fault in Him so He could be prosecuted, and His following dispersed after their leader is imprisoned, charged and punished according to the law.
“2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.” (Mark 7:2-4)
Here, the spies took offense to Jesus’ disciples eating without washing their hands according to the Jewish custom that was included in the Talmud, the civil law derived from the Mosaic Law that involved an extensive ceremonial cleansing process.
“5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” 6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men —the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” (Mark 7:5-8)
The spies then confronted Jesus about His disciples eating with “unclean” hands, and the Lord rebuked them calling them hypocrites, and went as far as exposing their abomination as the fulfillment of prophecy by Isaiah when he warned of such self serving men who leveraged the law for their own personal gain, rather than to please Yahweh, the One who created us in His image, for His glory.
“9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” (Mark 7:9-13)
Next, Jesus accused the Pharisees and scribes of transgressing God through their selfish desires, and for the traditions each one placed above God’s commandments. Of these traditions involved personal wealth that would otherwise be shared with aging parents, per the law of Moses. However, Jewish civil law allowed for “gifts” to God that basically left many elderly in need as the the Corban card continued to be played throughout the region, at many deserving parents’ expense.
“14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Mark 7:14-16)
Once He had rebuked the spies, Jesus turned His attention to the crowd teaching them how sin is rooted within each one of us, and that it is our sin that’s drawn out when we give in to temptation and surrender to the enemy.
“17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him, 19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” (Mark 7:17-19)
Jesus continued His exhortation by clarifying the parable and explaining how it is our own desires that defile us, not outwardly influence such as the food we eat, how clean our hands are or even the filth we are exposed to daily in our lives. What defiles us is what will most likely define us in this world, but the good news is that by faith in Him who loves us unconditionally, and died on the cross, when we are called home to Heaven those who placed their trust in Christ know that what defiled us on earth will be left behind to burn along Satan and his army.
“20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (Mark 7:20-23)
Lastly, Mark reminds us of our sinful nature, and that without faith driving us, or the Holy Spirit guiding us, Satan would overcome our own strength and our ways would be a testament to evil, rather than works that are glorifying to God. Through Christ, we can resist temptation and win the battle against the enemy. Let’s pray!
We thank you for your blessings in our lives,
We praise you Lord for the wisdom found through the gospel of Mark,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to use these verses in our lives
As we continue to learn more about you through your word.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and a place with you in heaven
According to your ways, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre