The Son of God
In our previous study of Mark chapter one, consideration was given to the testimonies of the Prophets, the Godhead, and Creation as they combine to reveal the fact that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Let us now focus our attention on the evidence which He Himself revealed to attest His being the Son of God. In doing so, let us keep in mind His words in John’s Gospel, “I am one that bear witness of Myself” (Jno. 8:18); “Though I bear record of Myself, yet My record is true” (Jno. 8:14); again, “I have greater witness than that of John: for the work which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father hath sent Me” (Jno. 5:36).
Those who carefully consider His words of testimony will surely be like the people when He was here on earth, of whom it is written, “They were beyond measure astonished, saying, “He hath done all things well” (Mark 7:37).
His preaching is mentioned three times in Mark chapter one. He preached in Nazareth (vs 14), where, as Luke 4:17 reveals, He read from the book of the prophet Esaias. He preached in Capernaum (vs 21), and finally, He preached throughout all Galilee (vs 39).
The order is significant, and sets a good example for those who would aspire to go forth into His ministry.
He first preached where He had been brought up, then He preached where He was making His home, and finally He went forth to the regions beyond.
From the public ministry of our Lord Jesus, we may observe three characteristics. First, it was with grace. Acording to Luke 4:22, when He completed His brief discourse at Nazareth, the people marvelled at the gracious words (or, words of grace, R.V.) which proceeded out of His mouth. He did not display harshness or sternness like the Pharisees.
Secondly, His preaching was with authority (Mk. 1:22). The scribes were accustomed to read to the people that which others had written, probably a combination of the writings of Moses and the traditions of the elders. This One, because He spake with authority, as God the Son, caused His hearers to be astonished.
Thirdly, His preaching was accompanied with power. For example, when He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, He cast out demons (vs 39). The common people had never witnessed anyone who could so work miracles along with his preaching. He was, as Peter declared on the day of Pentecost, “Approved of God by many miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by Him” (Acts 2:22).
It is possible for one to have authority to speak, but not the power to put into effect. Others may have strength and power, yet no authority for exerting it over others. In Jesus Christ we find One who, because of being God the Son, has both authority and power. His authority and power, however, were always accompanied by grace.
There was a persuasiveness about the Man of Galilee, even apart from His preaching, which magnetically drew followers after Him. One day, as He walked by the seaside, He saw Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea. A little farther on, the two sons of Zebedee were mending their nets. When He called these four busy men, they responded straightway and followed Him.
In doing so, they first of all left their lifetime occupations. These were not idle men eager to be hired, nor were they disgruntled and seeking for another form of employment. According to Luke 5:9, they had just attained to their greatest success, with a record catch of fish, yet they left all for Him.
As the Amplified New Testament puts it, “They left their nets, yielding up all claim to them.” They left all that was once so dear to them, and let others take full possession. They did so, remember, not for more lucrative gain but for earthly loss. Later these very men, on occasion, became penniless.
Morover, they left their worldly associations. They turned their backs upon the home town with all they so dearly cherished there. They forsook all that had been their life, and the future they had hoped would be so bright.
Perhaps hardest of all, they left their natural relations. Surely it was not easy for these sons to turn immediately away from their beloved father. Can you not visualize old Zebedee with his tear-stained eyes, gazing after his departing sons? His weather-beaten face, covered with salt, sweat, and sea-spray, wearing a strange expression of wonder and grief, as he turned to assist the hired servants in gathering up the draught of fishes. “Why are they leaving me now?” he must have asked.
These men left all because of the persuasive personality of Jesus of Nazareth; but they did not leave on sudden impulse or because of a mere emotional appeal. They became associated with Jesus Christ because, as Peter says, “We believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Jno. 6:69). Their very act of following gives testimony to the fact of His Sonship.
The last half of the first chapter of Mark is taken up with accounts of the power which Jesus of Nazareth displayed in the performing of miracles.
His healing power was neither confined to any one place nor restricted to any certain favorable circumstance. He worked in Capernaum and also throughout all Galilee. He is seen delivering the sick in the synagogue, in the home, and in the great outdoors. Some were made whole by a touch of His hand, while others were delivered from demons by a mere word from His lips.
His miracles were never tainted by any selfish or ulterior motive, nor by a desire for vain-glory. Always He acted for the glory of God His Father and for the welfare of others.
It is little wonder that the people were deeply impressed; as we read, “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 even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him” (vs 27).
Such mighty power belongs to God only. Therefore, when this same power is displayed by Jesus of Nazareth, it reveals Him as God the Son.
The closing verses of the chapter bring before us a miracle which is one of His greatest, because it is a miracle of condescending grace.
A leper came to Him and, kneeling before Him, earnestly besought His healing, cleansing blessing. Luke, being a physician, adds that the man was full of leprosy.
Previously, there had been a time when the first spot of the dread disease was discovered, when the priest beheld the tell-tale evidence in the skin and pronounced the poor fellow a leper, utterly unclean.
As such, according to the law of Moses in Leviticus 13, his was the outside place, where he must dwell alone. Forbidden from approaching others, lest he defile them, this poor leper must often have seen people turn from him and flee at the sound of his mournful cry, “Unclean! Unclean!”
But this Jesus of Nazareth, of whom he had heard, was not like other men. The leper, quite possibly, had been informed of the incident in the synagogue at Nazareth, when the people sought to put Jesus to death because of His reference to the cleansing of Naaman by the power of God.
Was this what led the despairing creature to fall on his face and beg that he too might be made clean? Did he discern in this Preacher and Healer those traits which marked Him out as the Son of God? One would be inclined to think so.
Who but the Son of God would deign to do what Jesus did? He actually touched the man! Yet, coming in contact with leprosy, He was not thereby defiled. Moreover, He had compassion on the leper; He loved him.
Then, in a display of His divine power, Jesus spoke the words that made the leper perfectly whole and able to pass the most rigid inspection of the priest. By loving the leper, and touching him, and making him clean, Jesus clearly showed Himself to be the Son of God.
This is He who set His compassionate and infinite love upon fallen man, who stooped down to where the sinner was, and, with His healing touch cleansed him from all sin. This is the story of the Cross.
Surely we must take our stand alongside the centurion of Mark 15:39, and say with him, “Truly this Man was the Son of God.”