Mark 1:14-39 by Sheenagh Nixon and Caroline Watkins

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.”

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed hi. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

They went to Capernaum; and when the Sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching – with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

That evening, at sundown, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed by demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.” He answered, “Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came to do.” And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.


This passage follows straight on from Mark’s account of John the Baptist, Jesus’ baptism and his temptation in the wilderness. Here, Mark begins his telling of Jesus’ ministry, including the calling of the first disciples and Jesus’ first miracles.

In the opening of his gospel, Mark has already made clear that Jesus is the coming king, the Messiah, prophesied in the Old Testament. In his account of Jesus’ ministry, Mark gives us a hint of what kind of king Jesus might be. The passage above contains four separate ‘scenes’ involving Jesus:
i) The calling of Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John
ii) Preaching and healing/exorcism in the synagogue
iii) The healing of Simon’s mother-in-law, and the subsequent healing of the sick people in Capernaum
iv) Jesus retreating to pray in private

What do each of these scenes tell us about Jesus? What do they have in common and/or what differences are there between them? It might be helpful to think both about the messianic activities of Jesus (healing, exorcism, etc.) and the more human activities (visiting his friend’s sick mother-in-law, finding somewhere deserted to pray) and how these two interact.

Why do you think Jesus felt the need to get up early in the morning and find somewhere quiet to pray?

The ‘good news’ (the gospel) brought by Jesus is often portrayed as a message about the forgiveness of sins. How far is this portrayal accurate – is there more to Jesus’ proclamation of the good news?

Look at the scene where Jesus is preaching in the synagogue. How did the people react? How do you think the religious leaders would have reacted?

How does the authority with which Jesus teaches differ from that traditionally associated with kings, religious leaders or other human authorities?

Does this make a difference to how we react to Jesus’ authority?

Prayer Pointers

· Jesus spent a lot of time helping people, meeting their needs, but also made time to be quiet with his Father. Pray that God might help us to strike the right balance between ‘doing’ and spending time quietly with God.
· Pray that like the earliest disciples, who immediately left their everyday lives to follow Jesus, and like those in the synagogue who recognised the authority with which he spoke, we might also recognise Jesus’ authority and identity as God’s Son, and try to follow him in our own lives.

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