Our Example

The Holy Spirit has been at work from the very beginning of time. He was at work in Creation. See Genesis 1:1–2; Genesis 2:7; Job 33:4.
The Spirit was at work throughout the Old Testament period through leaders, prophets, judges, priests and kings. However, His work in their lives was temporary. The Spirit would come upon people to carry out God’s will, to give a word from the Lord, to show God’s power among His people, to give wisdom and supernatural ability. The Spirit’s activity in the Old Testament is powerful but less than complete. It’s no surprise, then, that the Old Testament looks forward to a coming age of the Spirit. See Ezekiel 36:26–27; Joel 2:28–29.
The coming of Christ would usher in the new and lasting age of the Spirit. Notice the Holy Spirit’s direct involvement in the coming of Christ (Luke 1).
See Luke 3:15-16. The key to understanding the life of Christ is to recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in His life. Once you see the relationship between Jesus and the Holy Spirit, you’ll understand how the Spirit will also work in your life.

For the Spirit who gifted Jesus to serve His heavenly Father is the same Spirit who will also gift you for service.

Jesus is the example, the model, of how we can live in relation to God. Although He was God, He chose to set aside what was rightfully His and take on the limited abilities of humanity (Phil. 2). Being limited within His humanity, Jesus relied upon the Holy Spirit as His source of wisdom and power.
We see the presence of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ life in a clear and visible way beginning at the time of His baptism. See Luke 3:21-23; Luke 4:1-2; Luke 4:14-15; Luke 4:18-19.
So we see the pattern: the assignment was given by the Father, accepted by the Son, and fulfilled through the working power of the Spirit.
That pattern is exactly what will happen in our lives as children of God. Jesus fulfilled His assignment as a man filled with the Holy Spirit. He was a man in every sense of the word, but He lived beyond His human ability because He yielded His life to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ life is an example of the way in which we can live a Spirit-filled life.

From beginning to end, the Holy Spirit was at work in the life of Jesus. While on earth, we human beings are always in need of the Holy Spirit in our lives. That was true of Jesus, and it’s true of us.
The Holy Spirit who came upon Jesus is exactly the same Holy Spirit given to you. See John 14:12.

See Acts 10:36-38. Jesus’ kingdom powers were at work in him because he was wide open to the Holy Spirit. The more we become like Jesus, the more dependent on and empowered by the Spirit we will be.
If Jesus could do his ministry only by the power of the Spirit, then you and I especially need to be more and more open to the Spirit. To be a follower of Jesus is to be open to the same Spirit to whom Jesus was wide open. The good news is that the Spirit at work in Jesus is available to us. The same gift He received from the Father is now the gift He gives to all who put their trust in Him. See Romans 8:9-11.
So come to Jesus, that He might show you the way to abundant life, Spirit-filled life.

Let’s follow Jesus, our example, and embrace the Spirit-filled life that He lived.




About 700 years before the birth of Christ, the Prophet Isaiah spoke of the peace that Jesus came to bring into our world. See Isaiah 9:6-7. Luke, in his Gospel of the Life of Christ, writes about the night that Jesus was born which included a special message from angelic messengers. See Luke 2:4-14.
“Peace” means harmonious relations and freedom from disputes; a state of well-being, completeness, and wholeness.

Peace with God.

The first step toward peace with God is to recognize that there is enmity between man and God. Acknowledge there is a broken relationship between you and God. The second step toward peace with God is to acknowledge that God has provided a solution to our broken relationship through His Son, Jesus. See Romans 5:1-2. Jesus came as the messenger of peace with God and the means to peace with God. See Ephesians 2:17-18.
The third step to peace with God is to accept Christ as our only Savior and Lord. See Colossians 1:19-20. The proclamation of Christmas is “God and sinners, reconciled.” Jesus is the perfect mediator between God and man and has come to restore peace with God.

Peace with God does not come from what you do. Peace with God comes from what Jesus has done for you.


Peace with each other.

There is no peace on earth because there is no peace with God. The further we are from God, the greater our relational strife. But once you have made peace with God, you can and will make peace with others. See Ephesians 2:14-16; Romans 14:19.

If you are not able to make peace with others, it will affect your peace with God.


Peace within our broken world.

Jesus came to bring peace unlike anything this world can offer. See John 14:27.
Jesus came to bring peace that is personal. See Ephesians 2:14; John 16:33.
Jesus came to bring peace that guards your heart and mind. See Philippians 4:6-7.
Jesus came to bring peace within amidst the chaos without. See Isaiah 26:3.

Peace on earth is not found within what this world has to offer. It is only found within a relationship with Christ, the Prince of Peace.

See Romans 15:13.


I’m Invited

Your sins do not disqualify you from God’s invitation to experience His love and grace.

In fact, God’s love and grace invites you to come to Him to be set free from your sin through His Son, Jesus Christ. God extends grace through his love precisely because of our sin. You could even say that the awareness of your sins is what makes you eligible for God’s grace.

The invitation to come to Jesus is universal and unconditional.

Read: Luke 19:1-10. This is the only instance in the four Gospels of Jesus inviting Himself to someone’s home. Of all the people in Jericho that Jesus could have spent the day with, why Zacchaeus? Because this is exactly why Jesus came. He came for the sinners.
Salvation came to Zacchaeus, not because he did good deeds, but because he truly believed in Jesus and set aside anything that might get in the way of obeying him. This was his appropriate response to choosing to follow Jesus. It was the evidence of a changed life.
It was also a wonderful example of Jesus’ mission. In fact, this story of the salvation of Zacchaeus gives us the context for one of Jesus’ declaration of His personal mission statement (Luke 19:10).
What is a key qualifier for your salvation? It is being lost and recognizing your lostness, and a desire not to say that way anymore!

The invitation to come to Jesus requires a response.

Invitations are meant to be acted upon — they generally require a response. In fact, most invitations request an RSVP (répondez s’il vous plaît = please respond). All throughout Jesus ministry he was extending invitations for people to follow him, believe in Him, trust in Him. But the invitation needs a response. See Luke 14:16–24. The invitation doesn’t guarantee your salvation. You must RSVP.

The invitation to come to Jesus needs to be shared with others.

See Luke 14:23. It has been said that within two years of becoming a Christian, the average person has already lost the significant relationships he once had with people outside the faith. This means that most Christians will tend to have close friends that are also Christian. Which means we need to be more intentional to share this invitation with those who actually need to hear it. See Romans 10:13-15.


See Beyond the Signs

Read Mark 7:31–37. Fingers in man’s ears…spit on the man’s tongue…what is Jesus doing? It was a visible demonstration of what he was going to do. This man’s healing was instant, complete, and advanced. He began to speak plainly.
(Verse 37) This statement recalled Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah’s day. See Isaiah 35:5-6; Exodus 4:11.
This miracle has as much to do with spiritual as it does with physical healing. We can apply this miracle to the spiritual situation of many Christians today.
  • We need to be opened up to wholeness of life.
  • We need to be opened up to be able to witness.
  • We need to be opened up so we can act.
  • We need to be opened to living out through our lives a demonstration of the spiritual healing Christ has done in our lives.

May God open my ears to His Truth and loose my tongue to speak His Good News freely.

Read Mark 8:1–10. Not the same as the previous feeding of a multitude. Jesus had already found the resources in a previous remote place for an even larger crowd (6:35), yet the disciples were completely perplexed as to how they should be expected to feed them. Like the disciples, we often forget God’s provision for us in the past. When facing a difficult situation, remember how God cared for you and trust him to work faithfully again. Remember what Christ has done, and have faith that he will do it again. With Christ, nothing is impossible.

The little I have to offer Christ becomes more than enough when placed in His hands and used for His purposes.

Read Mark 8:11–13. The Pharisees had tried to explain away Jesus’ previous miracles by claiming that they had been done by luck, coincidence, or evil power (see 3:22). Here they demanded a sign from heaven — something beyond a mere miracle. Mark pointed out that this was a test.
While Jesus had done and would continue to do miracles in response to people’s faith and to reveal God’s presence and power within him, he would never give a sign in answer to the demands of religious hypocrites who would not believe it anyway. See John 20:29.

You don’t put your faith in a powerful sign, you put your faith in a personal Savior.

Jesus did not come to earth to convince people to come to him by performing wonders; he came inviting people to come to him in faith, and as a response to their faith, he performed great miracles.
Read Mark 8:14–21. As the disciples were worrying about bread, Jesus used the opportunity to teach of the danger of the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod. In the Old Testament (and New), leaven symbolized corruption and the infectious power of evil.
The Pharisees and Herod seem to have little in common. But they do share one poisonous fault that can infect others. Jesus does not explicitly identify what that toxic flaw is, but the context points to their obstinate refusal to believe in spite of the evidence. So Jesus warns the disciples not to fall victim to this same insidious unbelief.

A small amount of evil left unattended in your life can poison your faith.



Opposition Rising

Read: Mark 3:7–12. By the end his first year of public ministry, the influence of his ministry has spread throughout all Palestine. The primary cause of its explosive growth was his ministry of physical healing and demonic deliverance.

People often come to Jesus for what they can get from him, rather than what they should give to him.

This is still a problem today. What brought you to Jesus? What do you bring to him?

Read: Mark 3:13–19. Jesus did not choose these twelve to be his disciples because of their faith—it often faltered. He didn’t choose them because of their talent and ability—no one stood out with unusual ability. The one characteristic they all shared was their willingness to obey Jesus.

Jesus still qualifies the unqualified to serve His mission.

Within the call of Christ is the ability to live up to that call.
Their companionship with him is to lead to service that benefits others. They are not merely on the receiving end of this outbreak of power but are to become channels by which it touches others. A byproduct of being with Jesus is ministering to others as Jesus did.
Read: Mark 3:20–21. Thinking he had gone “over the edge” as a religious fanatic, his family came to him. They decided he had truly gone out of his mind with this “Messiah stuff” and that they needed to take charge of him. Do you have family misunderstandings? Jesus knows what that feels like! Read:
Mark 3:22–27. In an attempt to destroy Jesus’ popularity among the people, the scribes accused him of having power from Satan. In fact, they say that he is possessed by none other than Satan himself.
He would debunk their nonsense in parables. Jesus called Satan a strong man in this parable. The only way those possessions could be carried off would be for someone to first tie up the strong man—the only way for the demons to be cast out is for someone to first limit Satan’s power. Jesus’ coming into the world did just that. See 1 John 3:8.

The Holy Spirit within us is stronger that the power of Satan around us.

Read: Mark 3:28–30. Jesus introduces the concept of the unpardonable sin in this passage. Before we get to the unpardonable sin, the good news that Jesus shares first is that people can be forgiven all their sins. Too often people miss this promise and worry about the warning in the next verse. But the fact is, those who believe in Jesus will be forgiven of all sins and of all blasphemies.

When there is confession and repentance, no sin is beyond God’s forgiveness.

So what is the unpardonable sin? Generally speaking, it is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit refers not so much to a single action or word as to an attitude. Sometimes believers worry that they have accidentally committed this unforgivable sin. But only those who have turned their back on God and rejected all faith have any need to worry. Jesus said they can’t be forgiven—not because their sin is worse than any other, but because they will never ask for forgiveness.

Worry about committing the unpardonable sin is evidence you haven’t committed it.

Read: Mark 3:31–35. Jesus opened this relationship to all people.The types of people who can have a relationship with him are those who listen, learn, believe, and follow. We are not saved into facts or rules or a system of worship or a cult of followers, we are saved into a family.

Jesus’ true family are those who hear and obey his words.


Lord of the Sabbath

Read Mark 2:18-22.
Jesus is the new cloth and the new wine. He is not an attachment, addition, or appendage to the status quo. He cannot be integrated into or contained by preexisting systems of religion.

Jesus isn’t offering you a religious patch but a whole new spiritual paradigm.

He came to introduce the new, not to patch up the old.
Question: What ways have you made Jesus a patch?
Read Mark 2:23-27.
The Sabbath proclaimed that God is Lord of creation and time. It was instituted upon the completion of the creation of the world. God created over six days and rested on the seventh. It was designed to be a day of rest and worship.
Years later, Moses would receive the Ten Commandments from God on Mt. Sinai. The fourth commandment had to do with the Sabbath day. See Exodus 20:8-11.
As Lord of the Sabbath, He determines what is lawful and unlawful on the Sabbath day. When Jesus says, “I am the Lord of the Sabbath,” Jesus means that he is the Sabbath. See Matthew 11:28-30.
On the cross at the end of his great act of redemption Jesus said, “It is finished”—and we can rest. If you rely on Jesus’s finished work, you know that God is satisfied with you.

A relationship with the Lord of the Sabbath gives us rest from religion forever.

As Lord of the Sabbath, Jesus releases us from legalistic pressure and frees us to joyful obedience. The joyful obedience of Jesus to his Father’s plan sets up the context for the next conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees.
Read Mark 3:1-6.

The Pharisees were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus — he was a threat that needed to be shutdown. Healing, they argued, was practicing medicine, and a person could not practice his or her profession on the Sabbath.
So they watched him closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath. There is a danger in watching Jesus closely without knowing him personally. Knowing about Jesus is not the same as knowing Jesus.
What did these religious leaders have to lose if Jesus healed this man? Jesus’ ministry of compassion and power, grace and truth, exposed the powerlessness of their legalistic system of religion. It also challenged the power play these religious men held over the people.

You can believe that you are all about God and yet miss what God is all about.

God is a God of people, not of rules. The best time to reach out to someone is when he or she needs help. God’s law for the Sabbath was never meant to keep people in bondage. The Sabbath, while an important day given to God’s people as a day of rest and worship, was also a day to be merciful and kind to those in need.

Jesus shows that human need is more important than ritual observance.

See Matthew 12:7–8.
The gospel of Christ must maintain the central place of your life and faith, otherwise you will substitute it with a shallow, self righteousness.


Radical Forgiveness

Jesus offers radical forgiveness in impossible situations to improbable people.
Read: Mark 1:40-45 (Jesus Heals a Leper)
Read: Mark 2:1-12 (Jesus Forgives and Heals a Paralyzed Man)
Jesus’ radical forgiveness only offends those who haven’t truly experienced it themselves.

Jesus offers radical forgiveness in impossible situations to improbable people.

Read: Mark 2:13-14 (Jesus Calls Matthew to Follow Him)
Jesus invites unlikely people to follow him into unlimited potential.
Read: Mark 2:15-17 (Jesus Eats with Sinners)
Jesus puts Good News within reach of those broken by sin to offer them spiritual healing.


The Authority of Jesus

Jesus deserves absolute authority over all of my life.

Mark 1:21-22 — Jesus’ Authority in Teaching.

The people were amazed at his teaching. They immediately saw a contrast between the teachings of Jesus and those of “the scribes.” Jesus taught with passion and power. Mark doesn’t tell us what Jesus taught but it was more than likely a message of Good News.
Jesus’ authority derives from the Spirit of God, who came on him at the baptism. The crowds detect that one is in their midst who speaks for God and not simply about God, as the scribes do.
Your faith is not based on powerless moral teaching. It is based on the very person and power of Jesus, the Son of God. The Holy Spirit continues to be that powerful teacher within us as we read the Bible and listen for His leading. See John 14:25-26; John 16:12-13. Do you regularly submit to the authority of Christ’s teaching? Do you yield to the authority of the Holy Spirit?

Mark 1:23-28 — Jesus’ Authority Over Demons.

How often had that man gone to synagogue and the teaching was powerless to set him free? Could it be that the Law was powerless to release this man from the demonic power? But this day, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit and Power, taught the Gospel message — a message about the kingdom of God and the power of God to set men free.
Jesus didn’t come destroy demons. He came to destroy the power of sin and evil through his death and resurrection. Through this act of sacrifice, redemption, and salvation he would completely triumph over the power of hell. See Revelation 1:18; Hebrews 2:14-15. When Jesus commanded, the demon obeyed. Demons are expelled, and broken people are made whole. This is God’s kingdom. This is what the great King can do. This is why He should have absolute authority in your life, my life, and every life.

Mark 1:29-34 — Jesus’ Authority Over Sickness.

Peter’s mother-in-law proves that she has fully recovered by waiting on them, a sign of her physical wholeness and her spiritual responsiveness to Jesus. This miracle reveals that God heals so that one may better serve. Serving is also a characteristic of discipleship, which Jesus tries to get across with some difficulty to his disciples.

Jesus was going to show himself to be the suffering Servant before he became the great King. It is a recurring theme in Mark’s Gospel for Jesus to conceal his true identity. To reveal himself as the Messiah and King too soon would stir up the crowds with the wrong expectations of what he had come to do. To serve the needs of others was never beneath Jesus, the One who had ultimate authority over others. See Mark 10:43-45.

Mark 1:35 — The Key to Jesus’ Authority.

During his ministry on earth, Jesus was in constant prayer with the Father. This shows us the key to Jesus’ authority. Even though He was the Son of God, He still wanted and needed those times of intimate fellowship with the Father that only comes through prayer.
We must follow Christ’s example by carving out time for worship and prayer. We, too, should pray for strength to fulfill Christ’s mission. See John 14:10-12.

Mark 1:36-39 — Jesus Refuses to Misuse His Authority.

Like so many today, they wanted a Jesus of their liking, a Jesus who would perform miracles and fit into their agenda. He knew the multitudes were pressing to the door looking for healing, not for truth. His primary mission was to bring people to a place of decision to have faith in God, not merely to remove their pain. Yes, Jesus was a healer of men’s bodies. But that was only temporal part of his work. He was the Savior of men’s souls — an eternal work. He was not going to misuse his authority for a lesser mission. We, too, have authority for Christ’s mission. Do we misuse it for our own selfish purposes? See Matthew 28:18-20.


The Beginning of the Good News

Mark 1:1 — Opening verse is basically a summary statement of the entire Gospel. For Mark, the purpose of writing was to convey a crucial message, the life-changing Good News about Jesus Christ. Paul would later write to the same Roman audience about the power of this Gospel. See Romans 1:16.
Both Christ and Messiah referred to One divinely appointed and anointed by God for a special mission. See Mark 10:45. But make no mistake. While he came as a servant, he was also the One True Son of God. He alone was fully man (Jesus), God’s anointed One (Christ), and fully divine (Son of God). Right at the opening we are confronted with Jesus Christ the Son of God. The reader/hearer is going to have to respond in some way. He either is who he says He is and deserves all our lives, or he is not. There is no middle ground.
Mark 1:2–3 — These verses are a composite quotation borrowing from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Pictures the custom of sending servants ahead of a king to level and clear the roads to make them passable for his journey. John’s preaching helped to prepare the people — to clear away the spiritual debris and straighten any “crooked” moral paths.
Mark 1:4 — For 400 years, there has not been a prophet in Israel. It was believed that when the anticipated Messiah came he would be preceded by a prophet. See Luke 1:16-17. Mark pictured John the Baptist as a herald proclaiming news of the coming King, the Messiah. Important Roman officials of this day were always preceded by an announcer or herald. See Matthew 3:1-2. Repentance has two sides: turning away from sins; turning toward God. To be truly repentant, people must do both.
Mark 1:5 — Many significant events took place around the Jordan. It was by the Jordan River that the Israelites rented their covenant with God before entering the Promised Land (Joshua 1-2). Here John the Baptists calls them to renew their commitment with God again, this time through baptism.
Mark 1:6 — He dressed like the prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8).
Mark 1:7 — John’s message was all about Christ. John knew his place. See John 3:28–30. In Oriental households, a lowly slave untied the sandals of guests and then washed their feet.

Mark 1:8 — The coming of the Spirit had been prophesied as part of the Messiah’s arrival. See Ezekiel 36:26-27; Joel 2:28-29. This looked ahead to Pentecost (Acts 2), when the Holy Spirit would be sent by Jesus. When Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit, the entire person would be transformed by the Spirit’s power. Jesus would offer both forgiveness of sin and the power to live for him. We need more than repentance to save us; we need the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.

The good news is that Jesus, Son of God, came to forgive our sins and fill us with the Holy Spirit.

Mark 1:9 — Why was Jesus baptized by John? To confess sin on behalf of the nation (as prophets had done); to fulfill all righteousness in order to accomplish God’s mission and advance God’s work in the world (Matthew 3:15); to launch his public ministry; to identify with sinful people; and to give us an example to follow.
Mark 1:10 — The “splitting” of the heavens presents God’s intervention into humanity in the human presence of God in Jesus Christ. The descending of the Spirit signified God’s workings in the world; the arrival of the Messiah would have been marked by the descending of the Spirit, in this case, in the form of a dove. See Luke 4:18-19.
Mark 1:11 — Notice this was even before he started his public ministry – no preaching, no miracles, no ministry yet. We are considered children of God. That same pleasure rests on us.

The good news is that God the Father loves you and His favor rests on you.

Mark 1:12-13 — The episode began with the Spirit’s guidance. This shows that God’s leading does not always guarantee safe circumstances. God’s Spirit will lead us, as he led Jesus, into the places we need to go, even though they may be difficult. See Hebrews 2:17–18.

The good news is that Jesus understands our temptation and will help us when tempted.