Module 08: Jesus the Perfect Mediator
Module Guide: Mark - Jesus Christ the Servant
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
Mark was the personal friend of Peter, and throughout his gospel the influence of this friendship is manifest. The outlook therefore is that of a man himself familiar with toil, as were all the fishers of the Galilean lake. In this gospel we find Jesus presented as the Servant. He goes forward in unremitting submission to the calls of service, but it is impossible in His presence to indulge the familiarity which breeds contempt, or to feel the pity which proceeds from a sense of superiority. The only contempt we feel as we watch Him at His work is for ourselves, who so miserably fail in our devotion; the only pity possible is for our own patent and infinite inferiority; and this is as it should be. The kingly and submissive are two sides of one quality in the nature of God. Even He is most royal when He stoops to service. In setting forth the wonders of Jesus as the Servant of God Mark deals with His Sanctification (1-1:13); Service (1:14-8:30); Sacrifice (8:31-14).
In this division there are brought before us the remarkable movements through which Jesus was set apart to service. The keynote of the first section, which describes the work of the herald, is contained in the words "John came." His coming was in fulfilment of prophecy, and his mission was prophetic. The keynote of the section introducing Jesus is contained in the words "Jesus came." At the Jordan He entered upon a new phase of toil. Through all the years, in the commonplaces of life. He had been serving. Now, by baptism. He deliberately identified Himself with sinners, and so set His face toward the specific service which He had come to render. In connection with His baptism He was anointed, and His fitness was attested by the voice of the Father. He then immediately passed into the wilderness, where, as Servant, in perfect submission. He met in conflict the one who had rebelled against submission, and overcame him. He then stood upon the threshold of His work, wholly surrendered, perfectly equipped, and already victorious.
The division setting forth the perfect service of Jesus falls into three sections, the first dealing with His first disciples, and first work; the second with the appointment of the twelve, and an advance in toil; the third with the commissioning of the twelve, and co-operation in service.
Coming into Galilee, He first called four men into association with Himself, choosing those already trained to some form of work to be associated with Him in His. At Capernaum He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and amid its rest. He continued His toil. Under the influence of His teaching, a demon-possessed man interrupted, and became the mouth-piece of the evil spirit within him. The testimony was remarkable. He spoke of Jesus as "the Holy One of God," and in the uttering of the words confessed his own defeat. From the synagogue God's Servant passed to the home, and healed a woman, who immediately became herself a servant, ministering to Him and others. Multitudes gathered to Him, and He healed them with perfect ease. From the press of the crowds He escaped to the mountain for a period of communion with His Father. There the clamour of eager disciples broke in upon Him, and He passed on, continuing His toil in other cities. Leprosy, palsy, and sin in quick succession presented themselves before Him, and He dealt with each powerfully and finally. Following this series of works is a series of words in which He first vindicated His method with sinners: His presence at the feast of the publican was that of the Physician; He was there to heal. He then vindicated His disciples' joy; how eould they be sad while He was with them? Again He indicated His attitude toward the Sabbath by declaring that the Son of Man was Lord thereof. His anger in the synagogue with the lack of tenderness in the heart of His accusers revealed the keen sensitiveness of His own heart. Deep and pure emotion is always costly. The last paragraph in this section reveals His ceaseless activity; multitudes pressed upon Him with their woes and wounds and weaknesses; there was no limit to His power; He touched, and they were healed.
The time had now arrived for calling others into fellowship with Himself. This He did, deliberately making His own choice upon the basis of unerring wisdom. Those chosen were appointed first to be with Him, and secondly to be sent forth. It was now that the opposition of His relatives was manifest. It was the opposition of affection so far as His mother was concerned. She felt that His toil without cessation was a symptom of madness. It must have caused Him acute suffering that neither His mother nor His relatives understood Him. Without break His toil proceeded. The rulers suggested that He was in league with the powers of evil. In denying the charge the Lord made use of some of the most solemn and awful words that ever fell from His lips. He did not say that these men had committed the unpardonable sin, but that they had approached the confines thereof in attributing to Satan the works of God. To carry that suggestion out, and finally reject Him Who did the works is the unpardonable sin. After His warning to the rulers He revealed the positive facts concerning the Kingdom in the present age in a series of parables. Once we have a picture of Him resting, and it is pre-eminently suggestive that His rest was in the midst of a storm. Even here He was disturbed by His disciples, and readily responded in glad service on their behalf. Arrived upon the other shore. He was at once at work again. He healed the demoniac, and then, besought by the men of the city, passed back over the sea, and there, in answer to the sob of a father's heart, accompanied him to the home into which death had come. On the way disease approached Him in the person of a woman, weak and trembling, yet confident; and she was answered with the virtue of His healing. He came to Nazareth, and there the blighting influence of self-centred prejudice was forcefully illustrated. The wonder of His words and works was patent to them, but because He was one of them, they were offended.
Through all this section it must be remembered that the disciples were fulfilling the first part of their appointment. They were with Him. They had not yet been sent forth. Following Him they beheld His method, and became imbued with some measure of His Spirit. By the way of this comradeship He was preparing them for immediate service, and commencing their preparation for the larger work which would devolve upon them in the days when He, as to bodily presence, was removed from them.
The apostles having thus been with Him for a period, were commissioned and sent forth. They were to be the servants of the Servant, and consequently it was necessary that in every way they should represent Him. The attitude of service was emphasized by the poverty of their going: no bread, no wallet, no money. There were three essential matters in their equipment. They were to go shod with sandals, they were to go two by two, they were to go in His name. Thus tenderly the Master provided for all necessities, and swept aside all superfluities. His instructions concerning the method of their work were simple yet drastic. In any city or village they were to accept the hospitality of one dwelling, and refuse to go to others. They were not to conform to conventionalities which would consume their time, and hinder their work. They would not be everywhere received. This was no part of their responsibility. The story of the murder of John is told at this point in the narrative of Mark, in explanation of a fear which possessed the heart of Herod as he heard of the work of Jesus. The disciples returned to Jesus and reported everything. He invited them to a desert place for rest, which they never reached. Yet the short voyage over the sea with Christ must have been rest for them. His presence is home, His voice is music. His look is sunshine, His touch is life. Arrived on the other shore the multitude were waiting, and with perfect readiness the great Servant of God sacrificed His own rest and quietness that He might minister to their needs. Back again across the sea to escape the crowd, and for Jesus a short respite on the mountain, while His disciples returned yet once more over the sea at His bidding. Their sorrow brought Him to them miraculously, and mightily; and the storm was stilled. Again He gave Himself in unstinted outpouring to the multitudes as He healed their sick. Then followed a discussion with the scribes and Pharisees in which He revealed the difference between tradition and commandment, the former being the law of custom, and the latter the law of God. The final movements in the section reveal Him still at work, casting out demons, healing the deaf, feeding the multitude, and healing the blind. These works were interspersed with instructions given to His disciples. The Pharisees asked a sign, and with a sigh He declared that none should be given. Finally He gathered His own about Him at Caesarea Philippi and the issue was that of Peter's confession. Thus through all this section Jesus is seen ceaselessly occupied in service, and calling into fellowship with Himself men who, while lovingly loyal, yet so imperfectly understood Him as to be unable to enter in full measure into the sacred comradeship.
In the final division the ministry of service merges into its highest sphere, that of sacrifice. Again there are three sections, which deal with sacrifice anticipated, approached, and accomplished.
Immediately after the confession at Caesarea the Master began to speak to His own disciples concerning His Cross, and they were filled with fear. The people were thronging Him still, and in their hearing He uttered words the infinite meaning of which neither they nor the disciples knew at the time, insisting upon the absolute necessity that men following Him should do so by the way of self-denial and the Cross. From the number of His disciples He selected three to be "eye-witnesses of His glory." Passing down from the "holy mount" they were surrounded by the multitudes, and His power was manifested in His healing of the boy possessed of an evil spirit. With the departure of the crowds the disciples inquired as to the reason of their failure in dealing with this case. Answering them directly He led them forth quietly, and as far as possible privately, through Galilee in order that He might teach them still further concerning the Cross. At Capernaum He rebuked their disputation concerning greatness, and uttered some of the most solemn words that ever fell from His lips as to the necessity for the renunciation of everything which would be likely to prevent the highest realization of life. Coming into the borders of Judaea He answered the Pharisee's question concerning divorce, and immediately afterwards received the children and blessed them; and then dealt with the young ruler, and answered the question of the disciples concerning the mystery of His dealing with him. Thus He passed on. His face set toward Jerusalem, walking alone, while His disciples followed behind. Yet He waited for them, and instructed them further concerning His Cross, and two of their number asked for positions of power. The last picture in this section in which the Cross is so evidently anticipated is that of Jesus responding to a cry of need as He healed Bartimaeus, and thus added another to the company of disciples who followed in His train.
In the next section the Lord is seen with definite determination approaching the final sacrifice of Calvary. The happenings are all in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. In his story of the entry Mark gives none of the effects produced upon Jerusalem and the Pharisees, save those which reveal the recognition of His Kingship. That is remarkable in the light of the fact that this is the gospel of the Servant. Yet it is in perfect harmony with Christ's own teaching that the Chief of men is so by virtue of being the Servant of all. The cursing of the fig-tree, and His explanation of the act are separated by the story of the cleansing of the Temple. The pretext for selling and money-changing was that of rendering service to worshippers. This was carried on in the Court of the Gentiles, who were thus robbed of the right to their place of worship. This explains Christ's words, "a house of prayer for all nations." There was no home for Him in His city, and no rest for Him in His house. Therefore "every evening He went forth out of the city." He came into final conflict with the rulers as they challenged Him as to His authority for cleansing the Temple. That challenge He answered by uttering the parable of the vineyard. Calmly He told them of His own casting out at their hands, and announced in fulfilment of prophecy His final victory as Chief of the corner. With magnificent ease He dealt in turn with the attacks of Pharisees and Herodians, of Sadducees and the lawyer. Having silenced these rulers He solemnly warned the people against the scribes, and the contrast between the popular view of them and His estimate is most remarkable.
Mark then chronicles His instructions to His disciples concerning giving, and concerning things to come. As the hour approached for the final movements of sacrifice two opposing forces were working in different ways toward the same end. Judas plotted with the chief members of the Sanhedrin for the destruction of Jesus; Jesus prepared for the seclusion necessary to the delivery of His last discourses and the eating of the passover. At last He and His own approached Gethsemane. No apostle witnessed its agony. Heaven and hell watched the confiict. None can fathom its mystery, and darkness, and suffering; the sense of death, the weight of sin, the awful fear. We are bowed to the dust in its presence as we remember that our sin is its explanation.
The last section of this division and indeed of the whole gospel, tells the story of the accomplishment of sacrifice. The solemn and awful solitude of Gethsemane was disturbed by the coming of the traitor. All the worlds touched by man are represented in the Garden. Hell let loose in the priest-inspired rabble, led by Judas, himself "a devil," on whose face is depicted the feverish fierceness of fear. Earth trembling, cowardly, and impetuous, in the disciples in folly and flight, led by Peter. Heaven quiet, calm, regal, in the Person of the Son of Man, the Servant of God. Again in solemn silence we ponder the story of His death. Its reaches go far out beyond our dreams. It is well to be silent. Joseph of Arimathaea, according to Hebrew law, contracted defilement by coming into the presence of Pilate, and so made it impossible for him to take part in the approaching feast. That defilement was made deeper by his contact with the Dead. Yet what keeping of the feast he had, in that he cared with tender hands for the Holy One of God, Who was never to see corruption!
Mark's story closes as it began. One brief chapter in our Bible contains the story of resurrection, of the days in which He tarried on the earth, of His glorious ascension. There is a calm dignity about the brief account of the ascension, which is a most appropriate end to the gospel of the Servant. He sat down at the right hand of God, His service ended, and so rendered that the most fitting place for Him is the place of highest honour, the Servant of God took the place of Chief of all. Yet His triumph did not issue in cessation of activity, for as His servants, in obedience to His parting instructions, went forward to preach the Word everywhere, He worked with them, and gave the signs which confirmed the truth of their message. The last manifestation of the grace which had been so conspicuous in personal service was that He sent His disciples forth to carry on His work, while He accompanied them.
PART A: SANCTIFICATION - Mark 1:1-1:13
A.1. "John Came" - Mark 1:1-1:8
- According to Prophecy - 1:1-1:3
- Prophesying - 1:4-1:8
A.2. "Jesus Came" - To - Mark 1:9-1:13
- Obedience - 1:9
- Anointing - 1:10-1:11
- Testing - 1:12-1:13
Part B: SERVICE - Mark 1:14-8:30
B.1. First Disciples and First Work - Galilee - Mark 1:14-3:12
- Works - 1:14-2:12
- Words - 2:13-2:28
- Works and Words - 3:1-3:12
B.2. Appointment of Twelve and Advance in Toil - Galilee, Gerasene's Country, Judea - Mark 3:13-6:6
- Twelve Appointed - 3:13-3:19a
- Continued Toil and Teaching - 3:19b-6:6
B.3. Commission of Twelve and Co-operation in Service - Mark 6:7-8:30
- The Apostles' Departure - 6:7-6:13
- Herod and Jesus - 6:14-6:16
- (Account of Murder of John - 6:17-6:29)
- The Apostles' Return - 6:30-6:32
- The Feeding of the Multitudes - 6:33-6:44
- The Disciples and the Storm - 6:45-6:52
- Healing the Multitudes - 6:53-6:56
- The Scribes and Pharisees - 7:1-7:23
- Journeying - 7:24-8:30
Part C: SACRIFICE - Mark 8:31-16:20
C.1. Anticipated - Mark 8:31-10:52
- New Terms - 8:31-9:1
- New Manifestations - 9:2-9:27
- Teaching - 9:28-10:45
- The Healing of Bartimaeus - 10:46-10:52
C.2. Approached - Mark 11:1-14:42
- Jesus and the City - 11:1-11:26
- Jesus and the Rulers - 11:27-12:34
- Jesus and the Multitudes - 12:35-12:40
- Jesus and the Disciples - 12:41-14:42
C.3. Accomplished - Mark 14:43-15:47
- Disciples. Betray. Forsake. Deny - 14:43-14:72
- The People. Yield to Priests. Clamour for Blood - 15:1-15:15
- The Rulers. Slay. Bury - 15:16-15:47
C.4. Conclusion - Mark 16:1-16:20
- The Risen One - 16:1-16:14
- The Commission - 16:15-16:18
- The Ascension - 16:19
- "The Lord working with them" - 16:20
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.