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SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS.
New Year's Day.
The Beginning of the Gospel. ST. MARK 1:1-13.
1. The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
2. As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
3. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
5. And there went out unto him all the land of Judea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins,
6. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
7. And preached, saying, There cometh One mightier than I after me, the latchet
January 1, 1882.
of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
8. I indeed have baptized you with water; but He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.
9. And it came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
10. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him.
11. And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
12. And immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness.
13. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto Him.
PART I :-JOHN, THE HERALD. v. 1–8.
PART II:-JESUS, THE KING.
There is but one Mark mentioned in the New Testament, namely, the writer of the second gospel, which we are to study for twelve months. He was the son of Mary, at whose house in Jerusalem the disciples frequently met. (Acts 12: 12). His other name was John and he was cousin of Barnabas, (Col, 4: 10). He was a disciple of Peter, who calls him his "son." (1 Pet. 5: 13.) He accompanied Peter on his missionary journeys, and also Paul and Farnabas.
Verse 1. The "gospel" means "good news," and secondly, is the title of the book that contains the glad tidings of a Saviour. (Repeat Heidelberg Catechism, Ans. 19, on the Gospel.) 3. Messengers go before and announce the coming of kings. John was the herald of the King of kings. 4. John called the whole nation to repentance. All had sinned; all must repent; their baptism was "for the remission of sin." that they might be worthy to receive the Saviour. The "wilderness of Judea" was south and west of the Jordan, towards "the dead sea." 6. John's plain clothing and food indicated his stern and self-denying life, and was a reminder to the people to lay aside all outward display and luxury, and to "prepare to meet their God" with humility and penitence. Locusts and wild honey was the food of many poor people. 7. Jesus was "mightier" than John. The Church of Christ is also more glorious than that of the Old Testament. 8. Forgiveness of sins and cleansing are necessary; but the Holy Ghost also gives new life to the soul, and kindles the "fire" of love in the heart. Hence the superiority of Christian Baptism over John's. 10. The dove symbolizes the Holy Ghost, because it is tender, pure and gentle. We must be harmless as doves." 11. God is "well pleased" with all of His sons, who are such by adoption. 13. God does not tempt any man, but rescues us from evil-keeps us from yielding to sin. Satan could not harm Christ; "the wild beasts" did not destroy Him. Angels ministered unto Jesus, and they encamp round abou." us, if we keep ourselves pure, as did Jesus.
Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God.
"Behold, I will send My Messenger, and he shall prepare thy way before thee." Mal. 3: 1.
Ques. What is thy only comfort in life and in death.
Ans. That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ; who with His precious blood hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and
so preserves me, that without the will of my Heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation: and therefore by his Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.
Verse. 1. Who wrote the second Gospel? What other name did he hear? (See Acts 12: 12. Also 15: 37.) What does the word "gospel" mean? Whose son is Jesus Christ? 2 and 3. Who told before of the coming of John and Jesus? (Malachi 3: 1. Isaiah 40:3). 4. Why is John called "the Baptist?" What baptism did he preach? Where did he baptize? 5. What effect had his call to repentance? 6. How was John clothed? What was his food? 7. Of what Mighty One did he tell the people? Were they anxiously looking for a Messiah, or Saviour? 8. Of what new Baptism does he speak? On what great
day were believers baptized" with the Holy Ghost? (Acts 2: 1-4). 9. Who came to be baptized Did He confess sins?" Why, then, was He baptized? (Matt. 3: 15.) 10. What happened as Jesus came up out of the water? 11. Whose voice was heard? 12 and 13. Did Jesus seek temptation? Must He be "in all points tempted like as we are?" Who else spent forty days in fasting? (Ex. 34: 28. And 1 Kings 19:20). Who tempted Jesus? Did Jesus yield? Did he conquer Satan for us also? Are you tempted? Do you “resist Satan?" The Promise : Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you.
Each of the four gospels has certain characteristics that distinguish it from the others. St. Mark's is noted for its brevity and graphic style.
3. "The voice of one crying," etc. The imagery of Isaiah 40: 3 is drawn from the custom of Eastern kings, who sent heralds before them to call the people to give their monarchs a proper reception. A" King's highway" had to be opened up in the wilderness, valleys must be filled, hills levelled, and crooked places made straight. Interpreted spiritually, "the wilderness" is the evil world, the hills and mountains of pride and power must be brought low, the poor in spirit should be exalted, like valleys filled; and the "crooked" ways of publicans and sinners should be made straight by renouncing their sins, and beginning a new life. Is. 35: 8 describes "the King's highway."
Mark was the son of Mary, mentioned in Acts 12: 12, at whose house the disciples met for prayer. Mary was one of the prominent and wealthy members of the early Church. Through the ministry of Peter, Mark became a disciple, and hence that Apostle refers to him as his "son" in the faith. He accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their missionary journeys to the Gentiles, and was their "minister" or attendant, (Acts 13:5). At one time, when yet young, he turned back from following John was the son of Zacharias, a Paul and Barnabas; but he soon re- priest. His mother was also of a priestjoined the latter; and was with Paully family. Both were very piousalso during his imprisonment in Rome, (Col. 4: 10. Philemon, 24). He also went with Peter to Babylon, (1 Pet. 5: 13).
Mark wrote chiefly for Gentiles, as is plain from many facts: he scarcely ever refers to the Old Testament, never alludes to "the law." He omits the genealogy of our Lord, in which Gentiles would have taken but little interest. On the other hand he explains many Jewish customs for the benefit of Gentile
It is generally thought that he wrote under the oversight of Peter; for his descriptions are often so remarkably vivid, that they could only have come from an eye-witness, such as Peter. Like a diver, Mark at once plunges into the stream of revelation, not dwelling on the details of John's birth or that of Jesus, or of their private life and relations; but he begins with their public ministry. The first verse gives us a clear statement of the faith of the first Christians. "The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." The words immediately recall Peter's confession: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." JESUS is His human name- the Saviour. CHRIST the Anointed, the Messiah. THE SON OF GOD-His Divine nature, and His eternity.
Then he tells how the coming of Jesus was heralded by John the Baptist, vers. 2-8.
blameless." From his infancy John was filled with the Spirit. His whole life was one of self-denial. He came neither eating nor drinking." His reputation for sanctity and his fervid preaching made a deep impression on the nation. "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" All classes of people came to hear him, and daily there were baptisms of the multitudes.
John's baptism was not something altogether new amongst the Jews. Hitherto converts or proselytes to the Jewish faith had been baptized; but now the Jews themselves submitted to the rite. All were alike unclean and needed purification, and this they confessed. Confessing their sins." True repentance leads to confession; and this is the condition on which is based "forgiveness of sins." The Jews repented and confessed their sins; John baptized them; and God gave them forgiveness of sins, even though the blood which availed for it had not yet been shed.
These great events occurred in the wilderness of Judea, southwest of the Jordan valley.
6. John was not of a poor family; his poverty was voluntary, for the Kingdom of heaven's sake. The Nazarite Vow (Luke 1: 15) probably involved long and shaggy hair.
Locusts are commonly salted and dried for food, and may be cooked in various ways, pounded or fried in butter. Some have thought the pods of
Wild honey is that found in hollow trees or rocks.
Thus John's food and clothing were adapted to his wilderness life, strangely contrasting with the luxury of cities.
He came out of the conflict a victor. The
7. Held in highest honor as a mighty preacher of repentance, a second Elijah, he yet is humble, and points to a Com-ual offspring. ing One who is "mightier than" himself. I am not worthy to do the most menial act for Him-not even to carry His shoes. And thus the preacher of repentance becomes the preacher of Christ! The first herald of the Great King! Thus the dawn disappears when the sun rises!
8. As HE is greater than I, so His baptism is of a higher kind; not merely with water, but with the Holy Ghost "that creative and informing Spirit which is the source of life and holiness and wisdom." No mere ceremonial purity will He give, but purity of heart. The promise was fulfilled on Pentecost, (Acts 2: 2-5); but that gift was "the pledge and earnest of the new birth of water and the Spirit, which is the perpetual inheritance of the Church."
9. Then came the Mighty One, not with trumpets and soldiers and waving banners, but quietly and alone. He needed no baptism for Himself, and made no confession of sins, as did all the others. "John forbade Him"refused to baptize the Holy One-but Jesus said, "it behooveth us to fulfil all righteousness." Having assumed our nature, He must "be made like unto His brethren in all things, sin only excepted." As if a sinner, He went to John.
Jesus' baptism did not signify on His part a rising out of sin, but an onward step in holiness. It was for our sakes, chiefly; and it availed for us; wherefore we pray: "By Thy baptism, etc., deliver us."
"The wild beasts" in the wilderness in those days might include "the panther, bear, wolf, hyena, and possibly the lion and the serpent.' Their presence added to the terrors of the temptation; but to Christ the promise was: "Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt Thou trample under feet," (Ps. 91: 13). And now He is "able to succor them that are tempted," (Heb. 2: 18).
The sunlight breaks through the darkness as angels come and minister unto Him. He was not alone. To every tempest-tossed child God says:
'I will never leave thee nor forsake thee." They "that are with us more than they that are against us," (2 Kings 6: 16). This is the faith of confessors and martyrs.
How the thistle came to be the national badge of Scotland is told in the following story:
"Once during an invasion of Scotland by the Danes, they arranged to surprise the Scottish army. It was not considered fair or warlike to attack an enemy in the darkness of the night. So they resolved to march barefooted, that their tramp might not be heard. Sileutly, slowly, but steadily, they drew nearer and nearer to the Scottish camp. In a few minutes the surprise would have been complete. Suddenly a loud cry of pain rang through the air, startling both invader and invaded. The Scots sprang to their feet, seized their weapons, charged upon their foe, and defeated them with great slaughter. The cry that saved them came from one of the Danish soldiers, who with his bare foot
10, 11. Here was a revelation of the TRINITY, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. 12, 13. The temptation of Jesus is a great mystery, and all explanations that can be given do not enable us to understand it. He was tempted as Adam was, and as all men are; unlike all others He yielded not to temptation. I had trod on a thistle."
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
Jesus in Galilee. Sr. MARK 1: 14-28.
11. Now, after that John was put into prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
15. And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the gospel.
16. Now as He walked by the sea of Galilee He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
17. And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
18. And straightway they forsook their nets, and followed Him.
19. And when he had gone a little farther thence, He saw James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the ship mending their
20. And straightway He called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the ship with the hired servants, and went after him.
21 And they went into Capernaum; and straight
January 8th, 1882.
way on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue, and taught.
22. And they were astonished at his doctrine : for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the Scribes.
23. And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out,
24. Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.
25. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace and come out of him.
26. And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him.
27. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? What new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he unclean spirits, and they do obey him.
28. And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
Mark omits all of our Lord's early ministry in Galilee and Jerusalem as recorded in John ii.-v., and takes the imprisonment of the Baptist as his starting point. About a year passed since the baptism of Jesus.
Verse 14. John had offended king Herod by his plain preaching against that wicked ruler for marrying his brother's divorced wife. 15. Jesus had begun His preaching in His old home at Nazareth, but the people rudely rejected Him (Luke 4: 29), and He took His mother and went to Capernaum, on the shores of the sea of Galilee. 16-17. The sons of Jona were Simon Peter and Andrew; the sons of Zebedee, James and John. They became Apostles. But He calls us all to be disciples. "Come unto me, all,” etc. "Fishers of men." These words are a parable. The sea is the troubled and evil world, and men are the fish that have to be caught and taken out of it by the gospel net, and placed into the kingdom of God. "Forsook their nets." They left all, and thus their sacrifice was great. We must serve Christ by selfdenial and sacritices. 21. The synagogue was a Jewish house of prayer, in which any fit person, whether special minister or not, might read the Scriptures and teach. Jesus and the Apostles always availed themselves of this privilege, leaving us an example to attend Church services, 22. Christ's preaching produced astonishment. His words are always effective in earnest preaching. 23. Evil spirits commonly afflicted weak and infirm persons. They knew who Jesus was, and feared Him They obeyed His word, and left their victims. Jesus did not teach what He had learned from other men, but by His own authority. "Verily, I say." Again. He had not only authority, but also power to compel obedience. Never man spake like this Man." The "Holy One is the Old Testament name for God. (Is. 43: 15, and 45: 11). Jesus is "the Holy One" and the Mighty One.
Ques. How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort, mayest live and die happy?
Ans. Three: the first, how great my sins and
miseries are; the second, how I am delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.
Verse 14. Where was John now? Why had Herod put him into prison? (See Mark 6: 17-20.) Into what country did Jesus come? (Note. He had been in Judea. John 2: 3 to 4: 3.) Jolin having been silenced, who begins to preach in Galilee? 15. What "time was fulfilled?" The time foretold by the prophets. Gal. 4: 4. Eph. 1: 10. Whose person and power was "the Kingdom of God at hand?" What command does Jesus add to John's text, repent?" 16 to 20. What four men did He call to be His assistants? Had they seen and heard Him before? Jno. 1: 40-42. (Note. Their first call was to become disciples, learners; their second call was to become Apostles). What are the words of the Master's Call? What did He promise to make them? Did the
called ones obey? 21-22. Into what town did they go with Jesus? What did he do on the Sabbath? Did He teach "traditions" and "opinions" of men as the Scribes did? How did He teach? 23-26. What is an unclean spirit?" An evil spirit, under the influence of Satan. Did the demoniac know who Jesus was? What did he call Jesus? v. 24. Did Jesus want evil spirits to proclaim the "glad tidings?" What did he command the evil spirit? What effect did Jesus' words produce? v. 26. 27-28. At what were the people amazed? Had He power over evil spirits? Did the people believe in Jesus after this great miracle? What authority has Jesus over you? Do you spread His fame abroad?
As Mark omits the early part of our Saviour's ministry, we must turn to John 2d to 5th chapter to learn of it. We there see Him performing His first miracle, and hear Him uttering deep discourses.
The fact of John's imprisonment is simply mentioned here; the reasons for it are given in chap. 6: 17-20. His open denunciation of Herod's marrying his brother Philip's wife led to his being cast into the dungeon of the castle of Machaerus, on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea.
14, 15. Now Jesus comes back to Galilee, and "preaches the kingdom of God." "The time is fulfilled," when prophets and heralds shall no longer prepare the way, but the King Himself shall appear. His coming, so oft foretold, so ardently longed for by pious souls, was the answer to the yearning of human hearts. "In the fulness of time God sent forth His Son" (Gal. 4: 4). In the person of the King of heaven was present the kingdom of God.
With these glad tidings comes also the two-fold command, to repent, and to believe the gospel. This was an advance on John's preaching, in which the latter command was wanting.
of men." In one sense this was the first parable spoken by Jesus. In the language of their own occupation, He informs them what their future work shall be. Henceforth "ye shall catch men."
The earliest extant hymn of the Church, by Clement of Alexandria, dwells on the image with a rich and suggestive playfulness. Christ is thus addressed, He being the great Fisher of men:
"Fisher of men, the blest,
21, 22. See Instruction.
23-27. Thehealing of one possessed by an unclean spirit is a miracle which only a Divine Being could accomplish. A person "possessed" by an evil spirit was an object of pity, an unfortunate, rather than an immoral, wicked man, who is an object of wrath.
Of this particular kind of demoniacal possessions we know little or nothing. But see Questions. But there is another form which is very prevalent and well known, where men yield themselves to the influence of Satan to do evil of their own choice. This was not the case with the demoniacs referred to in the Scriptures. Theirs was a malady, a misfortune, rather than sinfulness.
16-20. In a kingdom there must be citizens; and hence He begins to call men to enter into it. Additional laborers are needed, and He chooses His first and greatest apostles, Peter and Andrew, James and John. They were The unclean spirit did not wish to pious Jews, in humble, but comfortable leave the man; hence he cries out: circumstances, having ships and hired "Let us alone!" Like his master, servants; but they were without the whom Jesus had conquered in the wilderlearning of the schools, and without in-ness, he recognized Jesus as "the Holy fluence among the great ones of the One," "the Son of God with power. earth. But they spent three years with "Art Thou come to destroy us?" Well the wisest Teacher that ever lived, and might all devils fear and tremble; for, were thoroughly educated in religious For this cause was the Son of God maniknowledge. See their gospels and epis-fested, that He might destroy the works tles, and scraps of sermons scattered of the devil (1 John 3: 8). throughout the New Testament. If not learned, they were wise, and could teach and preach in two languages, Greek and Hebrew.
"Come ye after me." This call Jesus extends to all men. "Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden." To certain ones, however, He assigns a special work, as to these four. "Fishers
The Saviour commanded the evil spirit to hold his peace. He would not have the unclean to tell who He was. Such testimony would but injure the estimation of Him in the minds of the people. The spirit of lies must not proclaim the truth. "What fellowship hath light with darkness?"
Notice, Jesus did not say: The Lord