Setting

After John was imprisoned, Jesus began His ministry in Galilee. After calling His first disciples from the area, Jesus went to Capernaum and began to teach and to perform miracles. Immediately, news about Him spread quickly throughout the whole region, and so many people came to Him that He could not move about freely (1:28, 32, 45).

Key Verse

(1:17-18)

Did You Know...?

1. Galilee (1:14): The Sea of Galilee is actually a freshwater lake in northern Palestine, fed by the Jordan River. It’s also called “Sea of Tiberias” (Jn 21:1) and “Lake of Gennesaret” (Lk 5:1). [ref] It is up to 6 miles (10 km) at the widest point and 15 miles (24 km) at the longest. [ref] During Jesus’ time, the region around Galilee was surrounded on three sides by a belt of large cities with a large non-Jewish population (Gennesaret, Capernaum, Bethsaida), [ref] which made it somewhat difficult for Jesus to find a solitary place.
2.
Fishermen (1:16): Fishing was a new and prosperous industry during Jesus’ time. Peter, Andrew, James, and John were not poor men but were working in a viable business with aboveaverage income. [ref] Note that they did well enough to have hired men (1:20).
3. “
Casting a net,” “mending their nets” (1:16, 19): When a school of fish is seen, the net is dropped over them. The weights on the net carried it down, and the fish were trapped underneath. Because the net dragged in everything from the lakebed, when it was hauled ashore the fishermen separated the good fish from the rubbish, which was then thrown back into the water (Mt 13:47-48). When the fishing was over, the nets were spread out on the shore for drying, and any broken pieces were repaired.
4.
Capernaum (1:21): A city on the western shore of Galilee. It was of sufficient size to be called a city, and had its own synagogue, tax collector, and centurion. [ref] Peter’s house there became Jesus’ base of operations during His extended ministry in Galilee. [ref]
5. Synagogue (1:21): Derived from the Greek word sunagoge, which means “gathering of people”, “congregation,” or “place of prayer.” It was a meeting place on the Sabbath day, in which it was customary to read scriptures, to preach, and to pray. [ref]
6. Scribes/teachers of the law (1:22): In addition to the written law (Mosaic law), the Jews passed down oral law from one generation of teachers to the next. Because the oral law was never committed to writing, constant repetition was necessary to fix it in a student’s memory. [ref]
7. Fever (1:30): Probably refers to malarial fever, which can be fatal (cf. Jn 4:47, 52). It is spread by mosquitoes found in pools and marshes, and is still common around Galilee today. [ref]
8. Leper (1:40): The exact meaning of the Greek term for leprosy is uncertain but clearly refers to some form of skin disease. [ref] It was greatly feared by the Israelites, not only because of its physical damage, but also because of the strict isolation laws that made the patients outcasts of society. There was no cure for leprosy other than divine intervention. [ref] If a person was cured, he had to make sacrifices, and the priest would pronounce him clean and allow him to reenter the society. [ref]
9. “Show yourself to the priest” (1:44): These instructions were in accordance with the laws of Moses on leprosy as recorded in Lev 13:1-3, 14:1-57.

Outline

  • Jesus Begins His Ministry
  • Jesus preaches in Galilee
  • Calling of Simon and Andrew
  • Calling of James and John
  • Jesus in the Synagogue
  • Teaches with authority
  • Casts out unclean spirit
  • Ministry in Capernaum and Galilee
  • Heals Simon’s mother-in-law
  • Crowd gathers to seek help
  • Heals a man with leprosy

General Analysis

  • 1.

    List the verses in which terms that denote a sense of urgency (“immediately,” “as soon as,” “at once,” etc.) were mentioned in this passage. What does this tell you about Jesus’ ministry?

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    15, 18, 20, 28, 29, 30, 42, 43. Mark gives us a ense of the urgency of Jesus calling the disciples and beginning His ministry.

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  • 2.

    Based on this passage, list some of Jesus’ tasks during His ministry.

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    Preach (14,38-39); call (20); teach (22); cast out unclean spirits (25, 34); heal (31, 34, 41); pray (35)

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  • 3.

    Where is Jesus calling you to begin your ministry?

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Segment Analysis

  • 1:14-15

    1a.

    Why was John put in prison? (cf. Mk 6:17-19).

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    John rebuked Herod for marrying his rother’s wife. John was never released from prison, and was later beheaded.

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  • 1b.

    Jesus began His ministry after John was imprisoned. Why? How did Jesus know it was the right time?

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    It is reasonable to conclude that because John was in prison, his work was done. It was time for Jesus to start on the path John had prepared. More important, Jesus knew it was the right time because He was filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lets us know where to go, at what time (Mk 1:12; Acts 16:6-8).

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  • 2a.

    Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled” (15). The time for what?

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    The time to repent; the time to believe. The Old Testament stage of God’s salvation plan had been completed, and the New Testament had begun. The Old Testament laws make us conscious of our sins (Rom 3:19-20); the only way to be saved is to repent and to believe in Jesus. Because Jesus had come to fulfill the law, we can today observe God’s laws under grace (Rom 2:28-29).

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  • 2b.

    Jesus said, “Believe in gospel” (15). What is the “gospel” or “good news” (cf. Lesson 2, Did You Know 1)?

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    The good news is that we are saved through Jesus Christ. Jesus came to set an example of how to obey God’s commandments in faith. He also came with the power to heal and to forgive sins.

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  • 1:16-20

    3.

    How were Simon, Andrew, James, and John related? At this time, did they know who Jesus was? (cf. Mt 4:18-22; Lk 5:1-11; Jn 1:35- 51).

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    Simon and Andrew were brothers. They had been disciples of John the Baptist, and John pointed them to follow Jesus. Also, before calling Simon, Jesus had used his boat to teach. James and John were Simon and Andrew’s fishing partners,

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  • 4a.

    What does “fisher of men” mean? Why was it so attractive to the fishermen? (cf. Lk 5:1-11).

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    By obeying Jesus’ command, Simon caught a lot of fish. It was then that Jesus said, “From now on you will catch men” (Lk 5:10). So Simon understood that Jesus was telling them that they would gain even more by following Him (even though he probably did not know what exactly it was).

    Before Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, the disciples did not understand His message (Mt 19:27; Mk 10:37). The words “fishers of men” themselves might not have had much meaning to them. Most likely, they were attracted to Jesus Himself. They followed in faith. The fishermen followed Jesus not necessarily because He said this or that. They followed simply because Jesus called.

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  • 4b.

    Jesus used the fishermen’s occupation as an analogy to the greater tasks He was preparing them for. Think of someone you want to preach the gospel to. What aspects of his or her life can you use to show them how Jesus can do greater things for them?

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  • 5a.

    The fishermen left behind a pretty good living to follow Jesus. What are you willing to leave behind to follow Jesus?

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  • 5b.

    What has Christ called you to do? How are you prepared to follow Christ?

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  • 1:21-28

    6.

    How could the people tell that Jesus taught as one who had authority? Compare how Jesus taught to how the scribes taught.

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    The scribes taught by repetition, which often became an exercise of memorization (cf. Did You Know 6). They became obsessed with the letters of the law, instead of the true meaning behind those words. As a result, they created religious laws and restrictions for themselves, which they later accused Jesus of offending (Mk 2:18, 24). On the other hand, Jesus taught something new that challenged their preconceived notions (Mk 2:21-22). He was interesting. He used everyday examples and told stories (Mt 13:1-52). He asked thought-provoking questions (Mk 3:4). Most importantly, Jesus spoke the words of God (Jn 14:24-25). He taught with the power of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 2:4-5), who confirmed what He said with signs and miracles (Mk 16:17-18; Rom 15:18-19).

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  • 7.

    Share a Bible verse or passage that carries authority. Why does it impress you?

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  • 8.

    Why did Jesus command the unclean spirit to be quiet?

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    Jesus knew the unclean spirit’s intentions. At this time, when He was just beginning His ministry, it was not the right time for people to hear that Jesus is the “Holy One of God.” He let His actions speak to who He was. He did not directly proclaim His deity, even to His disciples, until much later (Mt 16:15-17). When He finally did, the opposition intensified (Jn 8:58-59).

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  • 1:29-39

    9a.

    After Jesus healed Simon’s mother-in-law, she served them (31). How has Jesus helped you? How have you served Him?

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    She served “them,” not just Jesus alone. Serving other people is a way to repay God’s mercy (1Pet 4:9-10).

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  • 9b.

    How can your family help you serve God? How has the Lord taken care of your family?

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    Simon left everything to follow Jesus, but it did not mean that he severed his ties with his family. Jesus used Simon’s house and boat (Mk 1:29; Lk 5:3) and took care of his family. It is not God’s will for us to abandon our families and our earthly responsibilities when we dedicate our lives to Him. God helps us to wisely divide our time and effort, and He steps in to help whenever necessary. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt 6:33).

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  • 10a.

    Why did Jesus get up very early in the morning?

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    The day before, he must have worked all day and late into the night (32). Because the Sea of Galilee was surrounded by many cities, it took some time to walk to a solitary place. Early in the morning was the only time when Jesus could pray and have some quiet time alone. He sacrificed time and sleep to prepare Himself spiritually. However, even then, people wouldn’t leave Him alone (37).

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  • 10b.

    Which hour of the day is a good quiet time for you? How do you set aside a quiet time with God?

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  • 11.

    Explain why Jesus had to leave for the next towns when everyone was looking for Him.

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    While Jesus had compassion on the people and often met their physical needs, His primary purpose in His ministry was to bring people back to God and save souls. If He had remained in the same town and continued to do nothing but healing, He would have been no more than a miracle worker. Jesus knew that there were many other people in other towns who needed to hear the good news of God’s Kingdom. So He chose to move on to the next towns to preach the gospel even though many people were coming to Him with physical needs.

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  • 1:40-45

    12.

    List the leper’s actions and his words when he asked for healing. What does this tell you about his faith?

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    He “came to [Jesus], imploring Him, kneeling down to Him” (40). His faith was one of certainty and humility. He was sure that Jesus could heal him, but he also humbly looked to Jesus for mercy. He did not demand Jesus to heal him, but only prayed and hoped that He would be willing to do so. Touched by his faith, Jesus replied, “I am willing.”

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  • 13.

    Observe the Lord’s heart and actions in verse 41. What can you learn from Him?

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    Compassion was the motivation behind Jesus’ healing. He did not heal the sick just to fulfill some responsibility or to show off His power. He genuinely loved the people He healed. This is the heart we need to have toward those whom we serve.

    Jesus did not stand at a distance and just speak some words to heal the man. He stretched out His hand and touched this unclean person. If we are truly moved with compassion, we will draw close to those in need, even when others despise them, and stretch out our hands to help and
    comfort them.

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  • 14a.

    Why did Jesus warn the man not to tell anyone (43)? Why did the man spread the news anyway?

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    Jesus asked the man only to show himself to the priest and offer sacrifice as a testimony to glorify God. The man probably decided that it was good to tell others. But because he talked freely, the crowd became a distraction to Jesus. Maybe the man cannot be blamed for acting out of ignorance. However, he disobeyed a direct command from Jesus (44).

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  • 14b.

    Have you ever hindered God’s work even though you acted with good intentions? What was the outcome?

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    Sometimes we let our emotions and reasoning override God’s will (like Peter in Mk 8:31-33). In doing so, we do more harm than good.

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  • 15.

    Jesus must have known that the man would disobey Him and spread the news of His healing, which would make His job more difficult (Jesus even had to stay in the wilderness to avoid the crowd [45]). Why did Jesus heal him anyway? What does this teach us about helping others?

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    The passage says specifically that Jesus was “moved with compassion” (41). Jesus loved him, and was willing to be inconvenienced. Jesus went out of his way to give the man what he needed the most. His small sacrifices for us led to the biggest sacrifice of all: dying on the cross.

    Often we are reluctant to help if we must give up something or be inconvenienced in some way or change our patterns. It is harder to sit down to talk to a homeless person than to throw him some spare change. Sometimes we also overlook the needs of others for the sake of completing some work. To Jesus, however, the man was more important than any work.

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  • 16.

    When you preach to someone, which aspect of the gospel do you tell (miracles, life-changing experience, Holy Spirit, sin, etc.)? How do you get him/her to believe you?

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