Chapter 1 Summary (Click for text of chapter)
Mark does not include an “infancy narrative recounting the birth and childhood of Jesus. Instead, Mark begins his Gospel with the Baptism of Jesus by John (vv. 9-11), and then immediately recounts Jesus’s public ministry. This will be the style of Mark throughout his Gospel: he has Jesus on the move doing things; preaching, healing, moving towards Jerusalem. The idea here is that Jesus has come to accomplish something, namely, the Father’s Plan. Jesus is single minded in his mission.
He immediately calls to himself his first disciples (vv. 16-20). And in doing so begins to preach the Gospel Message: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel” (v. 15).
A quick word study: Repent. The word repent or repentance, as Jesus uses it, comes from a Greek word
metanoia. Literally the word means “a change of mind”. We tend to use another word nowadays: conversion, or conversion of heart. The word is used by Jesus 22 times in the New Testament and his invitation is for one to turn away from sin, away from vice, and towards God and virtue. This is the very essence of the Gospel, the very center of a faith life in Jesus Christ- conversion of heart, repentance, a drawing closer to God. This process is the Christian life: our ongoing, steady conversion of heart.
In the first chapter, Jesus we have four instances of Jesus’s healing ministry (vv. 21-45). There is this connection between the healing ministry of Jesus and the Gospel message of repentance. The two are inextricably linked, almost to being one in the same. Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his book, Jesus of Nazareth, that healing is at the very center of Jesus’s ministry and is also the very center of the Church’s mission (pg. 176). We will see this developed more as we move through Mark’s Gospel (and especially when we get to Luke’s Gospel).
Point for Prayer
How do I perceive this idea of healing and conversion? Where do I need healing in my life? Healing of memories? Emotional, physical, psychological healing? And where do I need to experience a metanoia? Do I see the connection between the healing Jesus brings and my ongoing conversion of heart?