Mark 1

1 "Gospel" in Greek means "Good News." Jesus came to free us from our burden of sin and restore our relationship with God. He also gave us hope that God will reward our faith and trust in Him with an eternal and good afterlife with Him. This is Good News indeed.

Mark emphasizes that Jesus is the "Son of God." This attests to Jesus' divine origin. He came physically as an ordinary man. He had a normal birth (although He had a supernatural conception), grew up, had a job, and later died. However, we are not to be fooled by this seemingly ordinary life. Jesus had a three-year ministry before His execution which demonstrated that He had the knowledge and power of God. He also rose from the dead after His execution. Such power is held by God alone. Jesus said that He would come again to rid the world of sin and establish a Kingdom that He would rule over forever. In these things Jesus demonstrates that He is part of the divine nature (i.e., He is a member of the Godhead or Trinity).

Since He was physically born, He "had" to have a father. Mark identifies God as Jesus' Father. Thus, two members of the Trinity are called the "Father," and the "Son." They, with the Holy Spirit, comprise one indivisible Godhead. When we speak of one of these members, we refer to particular characteristics that are associated with that member. When we speak of "God," we refer to all three members of the Godhead.

2 This prophecy is found in Mal 3:1. It predicts the ministry of John the Baptist, who would prepare the Jews for the coming of the Messiah.
3 This prophecy is found in Isa 40:3-5. It speaks of the purpose, method, and place of John's ministry.
4 "Repentance" means "to turn away from." The Jews had an elaborate system of sacrifices prescribed by God that they had further embellished with numerous traditional laws. The system was impossible to keep, and could be abused such that a sinful man could appear righteous. John's message was relatively simple: If one will recognize that sin offends God and turn away from sin, God will forgive them.

The baptism was the sign that people agreed with this message. The washing of the body by baptism symbolized the internal washing of the spirit. Notice that this is different from the Christian believer's baptism (Acts 19:3-7). The believer's baptism symbolizes our death to sin in tandem with Jesus' sacrifice and includes the turning away from sin.

Sin includes all those things that displease God. Thus, one who turns from sin implicitly turns to God.

5 John's ministry drew much attention. The Jews at that time were under Roman rule and they eagerly listened to the message that promised the imminent advent of God's Messiah. "Messiah" refers to God's chosen (anointed) king from the lineage of King David who would destroy evil and set up a godly kingdom.
6 John's clothing was similar to the prophet Elijah's (2 Ki 1:8). Jesus later reveals that John the Baptist was the second Elijah (Mat 17:10-13).

John the Baptist lived off the land. Locusts were one of the things he was allowed to eat (Lev 11:22).

7 John the Baptist's powerful message convinced many that he was empowered by God. However, John kept his focus on his purpose: he was to announce the coming of the Messiah. Since the Messiah would be the Son of God, John recognized his relative unworthiness, not even being fit to being a lowly servant for Him.
8 John baptized with an earthly substance, but the Messiah would baptize people in a spiritual way. Although the repentance encouraged by John's baptism was a big step for many people, he emphasized that the baptism that the Messiah would bring would be much more important.
9 When Jesus started Him ministry, He allowed John to baptize Him. It was not a baptism of repentance, since Jesus never sinned, but it was an acceptance of the purpose John's ministry. In fact, this was the culmination of John's ministry. Why John continued it instead of following Jesus is unknown.
10 One of the most enduring symbols of the Old Testament is Noah's dove returning to the ark with an olive branch (Gen 8:11). This was a symbol of hope for Noah. God gives Holy Spirit to Christians as a guarantee that He will fulfill His promises (Eph 1:13-15). John the Baptist also saw the Holy Spirit (John 1:32).
11 Someone once pointed out that God was pleased with Jesus even before He began His ministry. It is important to realize that we do not need to have a large and effective ministry to please God. We only need to live in faith and obedience to Him.
13 Before the commencement of His ministry, Jesus needed to prove that He could withstand the temptations of the devil. Other gospels go into more detail about this. Mark only notes that Jesus passed the test.
14 Mark skips Jesus' earliest ministry work and begins near the end of the first year or Jesus' ministry.
15 John the Baptist preached repentance in anticipation of the Messiah. Jesus preached repentance because the Messiah (He) was revealed. The Good News was that God would forgive sins and grant people access into the coming Kingdom. The complete revelation about how forgiveness would be obtained would not be revealed until the death and resurrection of Jesus. However, it was sufficient for the people to believe the words Jesus spoke.
16 Peter, Andrew, James, and John had followed Jesus previously on their own accord, but Jesus was now calling them to become full-time disciples.

Those who lived near the Sea of Galilee often had careers fishing. Fish was one kind of meat that Jews were allowed to eat (Lev 11:9). Fishermen tended to be uneducated, especially since they were typically far away from Jerusalem. However, it was a good job that paid well.

17 When someone fishes for fish, he uses bait to lure the unsuspecting fish to his certain death. Fishing for men is almost completely the opposite. People are already doomed to suffer the penalty of sin. The "bait" is the Gospel that must be heard and understood. The person must then decide on his own whether he wants to be "caught" by God or not. If he is caught then he is pulled out of death and into eternal life.
18 Peter and Andrew did not hesitate. They knew they made a good living, but Jesus offered something better. They had some idea that this could be the Messiah. To become a follower, and perhaps to rule by His side (an unwarranted expectation) was an opportunity they did not want to miss.
19 James and John had finished fishing and were repairing their nets. Nets frequently became torn while hauling in fish.
20 James and John also immediately followed Jesus.

Zebedee had hired hands, which indicates he was probably a wealthy fisherman.