9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. 10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, 13 and he was in the desert for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 18 At once they left their nets and followed him. 19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20 Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.



  • In the last study, we set the stage for Mark's gospel. (Or better put, Mark did!) Given the contrast between their ministries, all the things John the Baptist said about the Christ, and given Jesus' own ministry, we now read of the ultimate irony: Jesus is baptized by John (v.9)!
  • As Jesus emerges from the river, there is a clear sign from heaven that he is the Messiah (v.10).
    • Heaven opens.
    • The Spirit descends on him like a dove.
      • It does not descend on John, for as great as he is, he is not even part of the new order of things (Matthew 11:11).
      • It does not descend on the crowd, for the Spirit "was not given" until Pentecost, some three to three and a half years later (Acts 2:33,38).
      • It only descends on Jesus, who is God's beloved son
  • Following the baptism, Jesus is led into the desert for a time of testing (v.12-13).
    • This is no short time of trial!
    • It takes place in the desert, in the "wilds."
    • Jesus is protected by God's angels.
    • Testing often follows moments of triumph (doesn't it?).
  • Only after John's ministry effectively ends (with his incarceration) does Jesus launch his own "public" ministry (v.14). There may be several reasons for this delay:
    • Jesus may have been deliberately waiting for his relative John to complete his work, since he was laying the foundation on which Jesus would build, calling out a remnant of faithful Jews from Israel. (See Malachi 3:1-2, 4:4-6.)
    • Since John was actively sending his disciples to Jesus (John 1:20ff), it was natural for Jesus to have received all of them at the time John faded from the picture.
    • Waiting was sensitive on Jesus' part.
  • The message: "The kingdom of God is near; repent and believe the good news" (v.15).
    • The proper response to the gospel (good news) message is not just faith or gratitude; it is repentance.
    • The kingdom had come near in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ. It would be specially actualized in the church in three years' time, and continue to spread. It is quite appropriate for Christians to pray, "Thy kingdom come." For more on this, see the notes on Matthew 6.
  • Next Jesus formally calls his disciples (vv.16-20).
    • The lake is the fresh-water Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias in the N.T. To see what it looks like, click here. For an aerial view, click here. This body of water is replete with fish. (I have even seen catfish there!) These men were fishermen.
    • It is clear from John 1 that Jesus already knew and had spent time with these men. Nevertheless, the emphasis of Mark 1 (as well as of Matthew 4 and Luke 5, which are the parallel passages) is that they followed Jesus with urgency.
    • Fishing was a highly profitable profession. Moreover, the other workers (v.20) show that the disciples are managers, more than just laborers.
    • "Fishers of men" (v.17) clearly refers to the evangelistic mission.
    • Jesus called two sets of brothers, thus preserving their previous relationships (vv.16,19).
    • They followed immediately (vv.18,20). At the heart of any disciple of Jesus today is a willingness to follow the master, wherever he calls and whenever he calls.


  • Jesus was baptized "to fulfill all righteousness." For more on this, click here.
  • In verse 10 there are echoes of the language of Genesis 22 and Psalm 2.
  • "The kingdom of God" appears 14x in Mark, while the corresponding phrase "the kingdom of heaven" appears 31x in Matthew. Matthew seems to have modified the phrase for his Jewish readers/listeners. Then as today, Jews often substitute "heaven" or some other appropriate word, like "the name," for God.

Thought questions:

  • Am I currently in the wilderness, going through a time of testing? If so, how will I stay strong? (See the fuller accounts of Jesus' temptation in the parallel accounts in Matthew 4 and Luke 4.)
  • Is the message I share with outsiders to the kingdom of God one of "easy believism," or one of repentance? For more on this, click here.
  • When I read scripture and "hear the call" of Jesus, how quickly do I respond? See Psalm 119:60 for the right attitude.