Mark 1:14
Our text reminds us of the significant fact that Jesus began his ministry in Galilee, and not in Jerusalem, as the Jews might have expected of their Messiah. In the city where the sacred temple stood there was far less of the earnestness and simplicity which our Lord sought for than among the rural peasants and fishermen. Hence his work was begun and was largely continued in a district which was poor and despised. This, however, was only in harmony with much that we know of God's methods; for "his ways are not as our ways." As the Creator of all things, he has placed some of the most beautiful products of nature in obscure spots. We find them in secluded dells, or in the depths of the earth and sea, or they are hidden under the curl of a leaf, or buried in a pool among the rocks. Some of the noblest Christians are to be found in quiet spheres of which the world knows nothing; and some of the highest work has been done for our Lord in obscure villages, or in lands out of the range of tours and trades. Besides this, the selection of Galilee as the earliest scene of our Lord's ministry was an indication of its nature. It was a tacit rebuke to the carnal expectations current among the people concerning their Messiah; and, in giving an opportunity to the degraded and despised provincials, it showed that he had come "to seek and save that which was lost." Several significant facts respecting his ministry are suggested by the text, namely -

I. THIS MINISTRY FOLLOWED UPON A TIME OF TERRIBLE TEMPTATION. The verse immediately preceding this puts in vivid contrast temptation in solitude and ministry in public. Loneliness of spirit is a fit preparation for publicity of life; and our Lord, who was in all points made like unto his brethren, deigned to share this experience. Joseph was a solitary prisoner before he became a ruling prince. Moses passed from the splendours of Egypt to the quietude of Midian before he became a leader and lawgiver. David was a persecuted exile before he was ready for enthronement. Paul was three years in Arabia before he was the apostle to the Gentiles. Our Lord spoke of such inward preparation for outward work when he said to his disciples, "What I tell you in darkness, that speak ye in light; and what ye hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops." Public work is only safe when preceded by private prayer. True teaching can only come from those who are first taught of God. Without personal experience of inward struggles and victories, we shall never speak to others with power or sympathy. But if we would get the benefit of solitude, if we would achieve victory over self and sin in our own hour of temptation, we must be like our Lord, who was baptized before he was tempted, who was filled with the Holy Spirit before he fought with the evil spirit. Then out of such an experience we can speak lovingly and helpfully to others.

II. THIS MINISTRY SUCCEEDED THE SILENCING OF JOHN. Our text very pointedly suggests that the public appearance of the Lord occurred immediately after the ending and completion of the Baptist's work. The words are significant: "After that John was cast into prison, Jesus came." God will never let his work fall to the ground. If one noble witness to the truth is removed, another springs up in his place. If persecution silences one voice, another at once takes up the testimony. So when the disciples of John were most helpless and disheartened, and were beginning to scatter, suddenly the Lord of life stepped down into their midst, and rallying them round about himself, proved that he could do far more towards the victory than any fabled Achilles among his Greeks. Therefore let us reflect that when we or our fellow-workers fail or are removed, God can raise up others to accomplish his purpose; and let us cheer ourselves with the thought that when heart and flesh fail he himself will appear amongst us. It was "when John was cast into prison" that "Jesus came."

III. THIS MINISTRY STRUCK THE KEY-NOTE OF MERCY. We must remember that our Lord came forth amongst the people as one humanly and divinely great, endued with power beyond all others. Yet by that wonderful self-restraint which always characterized him (Matthew 26:53; John 18:36) he brought no immediate retribution on those who were foes both of God and man. Herod, for example, by his imprisonment of John, had done a wrong against conscience and against God, as well as against that faithful servant of the Most High. But Christ raised no revolt against the tyrant, which would have hurled him from the throne he desecrated; nor did he threaten or curse him and his followers. He came preaching "the gospel," proclaiming the glad tidings, calling upon all - ay, even Herod himself - to repent and believe, and so receive salvation. This was 'the key-note of his ministry, and was heard throughout it, even to its last chord; for on the cross he prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

IV. THIS MINISTRY PROCLAIMED THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A KINGDOM. "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand." The long waiting for deliverance was over. God, in the person of his Son, had come to establish a kingdom, in which the Divine love and power and will would be revealed as never before. The forerunner had been making the way straight, and now the King had come and was ready to rule over all who would welcome him. This kingliness of Christ is one of the special characteristics of the revelation given to us through Mark. Matthew presents the Messiah who fulfilled ancient predictions; Luke describes the Son of man in his pitifulness and graciousness; John proclaims the Divine Word, who was in the beginning with God, and who himself was God; but Mark, instructed possibly by Peter, who dwells so much on the kingdom in his Epistles, begins by announcing "the kingdom of God is at hand." Christ shall reign for ever, over all nations and kindreds and tongues; and each one of us is invited to bow to his scepter and submit ourselves to his gracious rule, that ours may be the bliss of those who shouted "Hosanna!" and not the curse of those who cried "Crucify him!" To enter that kingdom we are called upon to "repent and believe the gospel;" to change our minds and ways, to turn from sin to God, from self to Christ, and to trust and follow him in whom the glad tidings are incarnate. - A.R.







Now after that John was put in prison.
Sunday School Times.
But John had been doing a good work, doing an important work, doing the very work that God had planned for him to do. Why did the Lord let him be put in prison? Just such interruptions as that to the best men's work, and just such trials as this to the best of men, are in the Lord's plan of the progress of his work, and of the training of His people. When old Father Mills, of Torringford, Connecticut, heard that his son, Samuel J. Mills, "the father of foreign missions in America," had died at sea while his work was at its brilliant starting, the quaint old Yankee preacher said wonderingly: "Well, I declare! The fat's all in the fire again." And it did look that way, didn't it? We can't understand all this; but we can see its commonness. John the Baptist was a child of promise and a child of prophecy. Jesus says of him: "Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist." Yet just as he was fairly inaugurating the Messiah's dispensation, and his work seemed more important than almost anyone's else on earth, "John was put in prison." Until you can see just why that thing was permitted, don't worry yourself over some of your little hindrances, or those of your neighbours, asking — as if half in doubt whether or not there is a God, or whether He cares for the interests of His cause and its best friends "What did the Lord let this happen for?"

(Sunday School Times.)

Out of the ashes of a Faithful God raises up a Hopeful; for the immortal dreamer says: "Now I saw in my dream that Christian went not forth alone; for there was one whose name was Hopeful who joined himself unto him." Though the enemy burn a John Huss, God is able to raise up a Martin Luther to take his place: end the martyrdom of Ridley and Latimer does but "light a candle in England which shall never be put out." The casting of the Baptist into prison signalized the commencement of that ministry which unhinged the gates of hell.

(Anonymous.)

I. WE SEE A ROYAL AMBASSADOR SILENCED.

II. WE SEE A WORTHIER ENVOY SUBSTITUTED.

III. WE SEE THE DEATHLESS ENERGY OF TRUTH. No power known on earth can stop her silvery tongue.

(D. Davies, M. A.)

John's position had been one of honour. We now contemplate him as the occupant of a dungeon.

I. THE HISTORY OF JOHN'S CONNECTION WITH HEROD IS VERY INSTRUCTIVE. It shows —

1. The feeling of the world in certain cases towards the truth of its teachers — they "hear it gladly."

2. The experience of the faithful reprovers of human sin — a prison.

3. A leading feature of that kingdom which John introduced.

4. This was fitted to undeceive the Jews. Are you satisfied with the gospel economy?

II. No sooner was John cast into prison THAN JESUS HIMSELF BEGAN TO PREACH THE GOSPEL.

1. When a servant of God has finished his work, he must be satisfied to retire. We think experience, etc., lost; but no.

2. The world will never succeed in suppressing the truth. Let us not be oppressed with anxiety!

III. The Evangelist records the SUBSTANCE as well as the fact of Christ's preaching.

IV. As soon as Christ began to preach the gospel HE CALLED HIS DISCIPLES.

1. On the fact of His calling His disciples we may remark:

(1)He made provision for the perpetuity of His kingdom;

(2)He brought those who were to be main pillars in the Church under His own training — spiritually;

(3)He placed the apostles in circumstances which qualified them to be witnesses to facts.

2. On the manner of His calling His disciples, we may remark:

(1)He honoured diligence in humble employment;

(2)He chose seemingly weak instruments;

(3)He taught that we must leave all in order to follow Him;

(4)He furnished an example of effectual calling. Have you "left all"?

(Expository Discourses.)

The season was the spring, with its bright heaven, its fresh sweet earth, its gladsome, soft, yet strengthening air, its limpid living water. And within as without all was springtime, the season of million-fold forces, gladly and grandly creative, of sunlight now clear and blithesome, and now veiled with clouds that came only to break in fruitful showers.

(Principal A. M. Fairbairn.)

I. THAT GOOD MEN ARE OFTEN MADE THE SUBJECT OF SOCIAL REPROACH. "John was put in prison."

1. Because the inner meaning of their lives is frequently misunderstood.

2. Because the moral beauty of their character excites the envy of the wicked.

3. Because they are often called to rebuke the wickedness of those around them.

II. THAT USEFUL MEN ARE OFTEN RENDERED INCAPABLE OF WORK THROUGH THE TYRANNY OF OTHERS.

1. The power of regal authority to hinder the labours of the morally useful is only partial.

2. It is often capable of wise explanation —

(1)It proved that the Baptist was capable of suffering as well as work;

(2)That the history of the Baptist might the more easily merge into that of our Lord;

(3)To give him rest before entering the solemnities of eternity.

3. It is deeply responsible.

III. THAT THOUGH ONE SERVANT OF TRUTH MAY BE REMOVED ANOTHER IS IMMEDIATELY FOUND TO TAKE HIS PLACE.

IV. THAT THE MINISTRY CALLED FORTH BY THE EMERGENCY IS OFTEN BETTER THAN THE ONE REMOVED.

(Joseph S. Exell, M. A.)

Preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God.
I. THE KINGDOM HERE SPOKEN OF.

1. It was the kingdom of God.

2. It was at that time to be established.

II. WHAT MUST WE DO TO BECOME SUBJECTS OF THIS KINGDOM?

1. Repent of sin.

2. Believe the gospel. Application:

(1)Inquiry;

(2)Humiliation;

(3)Thankfulness.

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

This term is used in various senses in the New Testament.

1. The presence of Christ upon earth.

2. The second coming of Christ.

3. His influence upon the heart.

4. Christianity as a Church.

5. Christianity as a faith.

6. The life eternal.It points out sin to be turned from in sorrow: Christ to be believed in with joy.

(T. M. Lindsay, D. D.)

There is great meaning in the words that Jesus was continually using to describe the work that He did for men's souls. He brought them into "the kingdom of God." The whole burden of His preaching was to establish the kingdom of God. The purpose of the new birth for which He laboured was to make men subjects of the kingdom of God. Is it not clear what it means? The kingdom of God for any soul is that condition, anywhere in the universe, where God is that soul's king, where it seeks and obeys the highest, where it loves truth and duty more than comfort and luxury. Have you entered into the kingdom of God? Oh, how much that means! Has any love of God taken possession of you, so that you want to do His will above all things, and try to do it all the time? Has Christ brought you there? If He has, how great and new and glorious the life of the kingdom seems. No wonder that He said you must be born again before you could enter there. How poor life seems outside that kingdom. How beautiful and glorious inside its gates! If I tried to tell you how Christ brings us there, I should repeat to you once more the old, familiar story. He comes and lives and dies for us. He touches us with gratitude. He sets before our softened lives His life. He makes us see the beauty of holiness, and the strength of the spiritual life in Him. He transfers His life to us through the open channel of faith, and so we come to live as He lives, by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. How old the story is, but how endlessly fresh and true to Him whose own career it describes.

(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)

Many people seem to suppose this means some realm after death, where those who have done nothing but mortify themselves here shall do nothing but enjoy themselves hereafter. But what Christ meant by the kingdom of heaven was a life begun here, passing through the grave and gate of death without any breach of spiritual continuity. Unchanged in essence was the life of His kingdom — changeable only in outward accidents. Its essence depended always not on where, but on what you were. The kingdom of heaven was always a state within, not a place, though it worked itself out here below in a visible Church.

(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)

I. WHEN. After John's imprisonment. One witness of the truth silenced; but another raised up. After Moses, Joshua; after Stephen, Paul.

II. WHERE. Galilee. Where could He find work so readily as amidst the ceaseless toil and turmoil of these teeming villages?

III. WHAT.

1. Gospel of kingdom of God. Spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:50); righteous (Romans 14:17); near (Luke 21:31); inward (Luke 17:20, 21).

2. Repentance and faith: thus completing the work of John.

(H. Thorne.)

I. THE PREACHER — "Jesus." But Jesus differed from all other preachers.

1. He was Divine.

2. He was infallible.

3. He was sympathetic.

4. He was most clear and simple. "Common people heard him gladly," etc.

5. He was most interesting.

6. Most faithful and earnest.

7. He preached most affectionately and tenderly. One of His very last appeals — "O Jerusalem," etc. He wept over it, etc.

II. HIS THEME. The gospel.

1. He was the subject of His own ministry.

2. He also proclaimed the kingdom of God.

3. The near approach of this kingdom.

4. The sphere of His ministry at this time was Galilee. Now the world is the field of the gospel — "Go ye into all the world," etc.

III. THE SPECIAL APPEAL HE MADE.

1. He urged repentance.

2. He demanded faith. The gospel news must be heard and received as true.Learn:

1. We have the same Saviour.

2. The same gospel — now complete by His resurrection and gift of the Holy Spirit.

3. Its blessings are ours on the same terms.

4. Men perish by not believing the gospel of Christ.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

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