Study Guide

Gospel of Mark Chapter 1:21-45

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Chapter 1:21-45

A Day in the Life of Jesus

  • Jesus and his new disciples go to a town in Galilee called Capernaum.
  • Jesus begins to teach in a synagogue on the Sabbath, which was (and is) a sacred day for Jews lasting from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday. One of the Ten Commandments stipulates that no labor is to be performed on this day (take a look at Exodus 20:9-12 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15), although there were (and are) plenty of disagreements about what kind of "labor" isn't allowed. How far can you walk? Can you light a lamp? Can you prepare food? Can you fight if an enemy attacks?
  • In any case, the people are shocked by Jesus's actions—they all contrast his "authority" (1:22) with the scribes.
  • While Jesus teaches in the synagogue, a man with "an unclean spirit" cries out and identifies Jesus as the "Holy One of God" (1:24). The demon agrees with God and the omniscient narrator about one thing at least (1:1, 11).
  • Jesus orders the demon to shut up and get out. This is the "authority" that Jesus wields and the scribes lack (look back at 1:22).
  • The demon obeys, and his less-than-elegant exit confirms it. He causes the poor guy to convulse and cries out with a loud voice.
  • This creates quite a stir in the synagogue, where people are amazed. Here is this Jesus guy with the "authority" to boss around a powerful otherworldly being. What's more, his teaching is "new" (1:27). But how so?
  • News of Jesus spreads all over Galilee. For obvious reasons.
  • For a Sabbath, Jesus sure is busy teaching people and defeating a supernatural opponent. Still, immediately after the incident in the synagogue, he arrives at the house of Simon and Andrew only to learn that Simon's mother-in-law is sick with a fever (1:30).
  • Jesus goes over, takes her hand, and raises her up.
  • The fever is gone, and, in case you had any doubts, she is healthy enough to serve them. That's very kind of her—and in keeping with ancient conceptions of the role of the female in the household, natch. They need some refreshments. After all, they've had quite a tiring day.
  • The sun sets, which signals that Sabbath is over. People are now ready for labor, and at the first opportunity, a bunch of people in Capernaum bring their ill and demon-possessed to Jesus for help. Word spreads fast, apparently.
  • Jesus heals the sick and exorcizes demons, whom he does not allow to speak, because these otherworldly beings know his supernatural pedigree (note the consistency with 1:24-26).
  • In the early hours of the morning Jesus rises, goes to a deserted place, and prays. This guy's got a lot of energy.
  • Simon and friends search for him. Upon finding him, they report that everyone else is looking for him too.
  • Jesus informs Simon and his companions of his plans to go to other local villages, where he'll continue to proclaim his message (likely the same one as in 1:15).
  • The narrator summarizes: Jesus proclaims in the synagogues and casts out demons throughout Galilee.
  • A man with leprosy kneels before Jesus and begs Jesus to cleanse him of this disease, which causes the skin to become scaly. Leviticus requires that the infected person, who is "unclean," be quarantined. Interested in the details? Take a look at Leviticus 13-14.
  • Out of compassion, Jesus reaches out his hand and touches the leper. These details are uncool for those Jews whose principles forewarn of contact with "unclean" people. Peruse 1 Kings 5:1-14 and Numbers 12:9-15 and compare the responses of other Biblical figures to leprosy. We'll wait.
  • Voilà! The leprosy is gone, and Jesus orders him to present himself to the priest and do exactly what Moses commanded regarding his reinstatement into the community. Jesus is referencing the elaborate instructions of Leviticus 14. We double dog dare the stout of heart to read this detailed chapter from Leviticus. But grab a bottle of blue Mountain Dew first for a pick-me-up.
  • In spite of Jesus's stern warning to the one-time leper that he is not to tell anyone what has happened (why exactly?), the guy goes out and spreads the report widely anyway. 
  • Thanks a lot, buddy. Now Jesus is so famous that he is unable to enter into cities and hangs around less populated places.

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