Manfred Diefenbach

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The practical Commentary on Mark. is written for students, for pastoral co-workers and for the faithful. This exegetical interpretation is intended to provide a deeper and more profound understanding of biblical teaching and preaching - always and everywhere! Der praxisnahe Markuskommentar dient für ein besseres Bibelverständnis im Hier und Heute!

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ISBN 978-3-7375-0389-1/span>

Table of Contents



- The Three Stages in the Formation of the Inspired Gospels

- From Exegesis to the “Hearts” as the Hermeneutic of the Word of God

0. The Macrostructure/Composition of the Gospel according to Mark

1. Beginning/Prologue: John the Baptist’s Public Ministry in Judea and the Temptation of Jesus (1:1–13)

1.1 Prologue (1:1)

1.2 John the Baptist’s Public Ministry in Judea (vv. 2–11)

1.3 Jesus’ Temptation (vv. 12–13)

2. Central Part: The Public Ministry of Jesus, the “Christ”, in and beyond Galilee (1:14–8:26) and the Public Ministry of Jesus, the “Son of God”, on His Journey to Jerusalem (8:27–10:52)

2.1 The Setting of Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee (1:14–15)

2.2 Jesus’ Healing and Preaching Ministry in Galilee (1:16–6:13)

2.2.1 The Call of the First Four Disciples (1:16–20)

2.2.2 His Teaching and Healing in the Synagogue of Capernaum (vv. 21–28)

2.2.3 His Healing of Simon’s Mother-in-Law in her/his House (vv. 29–31)

2.2.4 Summary of Some Healings and the Reaction of the People (vv. 32–34)

2.2.5 His Departure from Capernaum (vv. 35–38)

2.2.6 Summary of His First Preaching Journey through Galilee (v. 39)

2.2.7 His Healing of the Leper (vv. 40–45)

2.2.8 His Healing of the Paralytic (2:1–12)

2.2.9 The Call of Levi (vv. 13–17)

2.2.10 The Question about Fasting (vv. 18–22)

2.2.11 His Conflict with the Pharisees because of the Picking of Corn on the Sabbath (vv. 23–28)

2.2.12 The Man with the Withered Hand and the Official Plot to Kill Jesus (3:1–6)

2.2.13 Summary of His Healings by the Sea (vv. 7–12)

2.2.14 His Election of the Twelve (vv. 13–19)

2.2.15 Various Statements about Jesus by His Relatives and the Scribes (vv. 20–30)

2.2.16 His True Kindred (vv. 31–35)

2.2.17 His Words: Parables about God’s Kingdom (4:1–34)

2.2.18 His Calming of the Storm (vv. 35–41)

2.2.19 His Deeds: The Gerasene Demoniac (5:1–20)

2.2.20 The Resurrection of Jaïrus’ Daughter and the Healing of a Woman with a Haemorrhage (vv. 21–43)

2.2.21 The Rejection of Jesus’ Preaching in Nazareth (6:1–6a)

2.2.22 The Commission of “the Twelve” (vv. 6b–13)

2.3 Jesus’ Healing and Preaching Ministry beyond Galilee (6:14–8:26)

2.3.1 Herod Antipas’ View of Jesus and his Execution of John the Baptist (6:14–29)

2.3.2 The Reporting of “the Twelve” on their Ministry (vv. 30–34)

2.3.3 His Feeding of the Five Thousand – the First Multiplication of the Loaves (vv. 35–44)

2.3.4 His Walking on the Water (vv. 45–52)

2.3.5 Summary of His Healings at Gennesaret (vv. 53–56)

2.3.6 A Major Debate with Pharisees and Scribes (7:1–23)

2.3.7 His Two Healings in the Territory of the Gentiles (vv. 24–37)

2.3.8 His Feeding of the Four Thousand – the Second Multiplication of the Loaves (8:1–10)

2.3.9 The Pharisees Demand a Sign from Heaven (vv. 11–13)

2.3.10 The Leaven of the Pharisees (vv. 14–21)

2.3.11 His Healing of a Blind Man at Bethsaida (vv. 22–26)

2.4 The Ministry of Jesus, the “Son of Man”, on His Journey to Jerusalem (8:27–10:52)

2.4.1 Peter’s Confession – the Identity of Jesus (8:27–29/30)

2.4.2 First Prediction of His Passion and Resurrection (vv. 31–33)

2.4.3 His Teaching on Discipleship – “Follow Me” (8:34–9:1)

2.4.4 The Transfiguration (vv. 2–8)

2.4.5 The Question about Elijah (vv. 9–13)

2.4.6 His Healing of a Boy Possessed by an Evil Spirit (vv. 14–29)

2.4.7 Second Prediction of His Passion and Resurrection (vv. 30–32)

2.4.8 True Greatness (vv. 33–37)

2.4.9 The Strange Exorcist – a Lesson on Tolerance (vv. 38–41)

2.4.10 His Warnings Concerning Temptations (vv. 42–50)

2.4.11 His Decision to Go to Judea (10:1)

2.4.12 His Teaching on Marriage, Divorce, and Celibacy (vv. 2–12)

2.4.13 Jesus Blesses Children (vv. 13–16)

2.4.14 His Teaching about Riches and the Rewards of Discipleship (vv. 17–31)

2.4.15 Third Prediction of His Passion and Resurrection (vv. 32–34)

2.4.16 The Sons of Zebedee – the Question of Precedence among Disciples (vv. 35–45)

2.4.17 His Healing of the Blind Man Bartimaeus (vv. 46–52)

3. Final Part: Jesus in Jerusalem (11:1–16:8[, 9–20])

3.1 The Ministry of Jesus, the “Son of Man”, in Jerusalem (11:1–13:37)

3.1.1 The Arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem – the First Day (11:1–11)

3.1.2 The Cursing of the Fig Tree – the Second Day (vv. 12–14)

3.1.3 His Cleansing of the Temple (vv. 15–19)

3.1.4 The Withered Fig Tree (vv. 20–21) and Lessons (vv. 22–25/26) – the Third Day

3.1.5 The Question about Authority (vv. 27–33)

3.1.6 The Parable of the Wicked Tenants (12:1–12)

3.1.7 Question by Pharisees and Herodians on Tribute to Caesar (vv. 13–17)

3.1.8 The Question of the Sadducees: About the Resurrection of the Dead (vv. 18–27)

3.1.9 Question from a Doctor of the Law: About the Greatest Commandment (vv. 28–34)

3.1.10 His Question: About “Son of David” (vv. 35–37b)

3.1.11 Jesus Condemns the Scribes (vv. 37c–40)

3.1.12 The Example of the Widow’s Mite for His Disciples (vv. 41–44)

3.1.13 Dialogue between One Disciple and Jesus and Prophecy on the Destruction of the Temple (13:1–2)

3.1.14 Dialogue between the Inner-Circle of His Disciples and Jesus; His Eschatological Discourse (vv. 3–37)

3.2 Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection (14:1–16:8) and the “Second Conclusion” (16:9–20)

3.2.1 The Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus (14:1–15:47) Judas Iscariot’s Agreement with the Jewish Leaders in Jerusalem; the Anointing of Jesus in Bethany (14:1–11) The Preparation and Celebration of the Lord’s Supper (vv. 12–25) Gethsemane (vv. 26–52) Jesus before the (Jewish) Sanhedrin (vv. 53–72) Jesus before (the Roman) Pontius Pilate and Soldiers (15:1–20) Golgotha (vv. 21–32) The Death of Jesus (vv. 33–41) The Burial of Jesus (vv. 42–47)

3.2.2 His Resurrection (16:1–20) The Empty Tomb and the Galilean Women (vv. 1–8) The Longer “Second Ending/Conclusion” (vv. 9–20)

4. Conclusion

4.1 The Evangelist – Who is Mark?

4.2 Time Line – When was the First Gospel Written?

4.3 The Audience/Receiver of Mark’s Gospel – Where and for Whom Did the Evangelist Write his Gospel?

5. Bibliography

5.1 Edition Translation, Concordance, Linguistic Works of Reference, Dictionary

5.2 Short-List of Commentaries

5.3 Biblical Dictionaries

5.4 Introduction

5.5 “Documents” of the Catholic Church and other Churches

5.6 Exegetical Literature

6. Appendix/Graphics/Map

6.1 The Christian Bible

6.2 Three Stages in the Formation of the Gospels

6.3 The Babylonian and Jewish View of the World

6.4 The Structure/Conception of the Gospels – “Who (do you say) I am”?

6.5 Jesus’ Actions in Word and Deed according to Mark

6.6 Timetable of the Last Days of Jesus in Jerusalem

6.7 Last Days of Jesus of Nazareth in Jerusalem about 30 A.D.

6.8 Stations of the Cross

6.9 Personal Information about Jesus of Nazareth

6.10 Places of Mark’s Gospel

6.11 The Apostles’ Creed and some Biblical References

6.12 Liturgical Aspect of Scripture Reading

6.12.1 The Gospel of Mark during the Liturgical Year B of the Roman Catholic Church

6.12.2 The Gospel of Mark during the Liturgical Year B of the Anglican Church

6.12.3 The Gospel of Mark in the Daily Scripture Readings during the Liturgical Year of the Greek Orthodox Church

6.12.4 The Gospel of Mark in the Daily Scripture Readings during the Liturgical Year of the Maronite Church/Rite

6.12.5 The Gospel of Mark in the Daily Scripture Readings of the Coptic Orthodox Church

6.12.6 The Gospel of Mark in the Cycle of Reading for Sunday and Feast Day in the so-called “Perikopenordnung” of the EKD/Evangelical Church in Germany

6.13 Spiritual Aspect of Scripture Reading – “Lectio Divina”

6.13.1 “Lectio Divina” in Five Steps

6.13.2 Suggestion for Scripture Reading for Preaching/Teaching

6.14 Lexicon of Terms


In the year 2012, the publishing house Aschendorff published my commentary on Mark for the liturgical year B. This was a revised version which has been published by epubli. Then I wrote my second commentary for you and for your liturgical, catechetical and spiritual service – the commentary on Luke (C). Last but not least, I have written a commentary on Matthew (A), and I hope it will be useful and helpful to you. In the future, I want to write a commentary on the fourth Gospel (according to “John”). My hope is that I have grasped Mark’s, Matthew’s and Luke’s spirit and that this spirit can inspire us as His followers/disciples here and now.

All my commentaries are intended to provide a better, deeper and more profound understanding of biblical teachings and to help preach and teach the Good News more convincingly in word and deed, always and everywhere. Therefore it is necessary to prepare ourselves in five steps of the “Lectio Divina” according to Pope Benedict XVI[1] (Verbum Domini, Rome 2010, no. 87): to read (lectio) the “Word of God”, meditate/reflect on it (mediatio), pray with it (oratio) and internalize it (contemplatio), as well as live the biblical message (actio). The aim of these more synchronic commentaries is to improve the biblical, historical, linguistical, rhetorical and etymological background of the ancient biblical texts and to help the understanding of the theological, spiritual “Word of God” today. Whether you are a priest, a deacon, a catechist, a lay minister or a seminarian, this work will have achieved its goal if it succeeds in complementing and helping you in your preaching and/or in your teaching. These e-books can be the basis for your self-study and ongoing formation programme.

I especially want to thank the German Catholic institution MISSIO Aachen for their “sponsoring” of my project in the context of the evangelization with my commentaries on the Gospels (Luke and Matthew) to bring the Good News to the people.

In honour of his pastoral service as Vicar of the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia since 2004, I would like to acknowledge Bishop Dr Paul Hinder, OFM Cap. I would also like to thank Father Gideon Pwakim from Nigeria and Mrs. Pascale-Dominique Francis (2012) for their proof-reading and their suggestions for this work.

Limburg/Germany, on 25th April 2014, the Memorial of the Evangelist Saint Mark

Dr Manfred Diefenbach


All Christians – both clergy and laymen – are called to be witnesses of the “Word of God” (cf. Luke 1:2) and faith. We are “ministers” of the Word of God. We should be teachers of the faith in order to open hearts to conversion, so that those whom we teach may hear and receive the “Word of God”. Let us keep in mind that we are first, receivers of the Word, and then disciples and “servants”/“co-workers” of Jesus Christ in preaching and/or teaching the message of the Good News. To be a minister of the Word of God and of His Love is to receive first, and then to “hand on” (the meaning of the Latin word “traditio”) what has been received. The truth that saves our life kindles the heart of the receiver with a neighbourly love that should motivate us to communicate our experience of faith to others.

Jesus was a teacher, preacher, catechist, biblical scholar and a storyteller. He talked about, and explained in parables, “the Kingdomof Heaven”, taking into account people’s different kinds of backgrounds and understandings. In His preaching, Jesus used parables like the parable of the sower (cf. Mark 4:3–8/Matthew 13:4–8/Luke 8:5–8) who sowed seeds in various soils. Through His interpretation (cf. Mark 4:13–20/Matthew 13:18–23/Luke 8:11–15), Jesus helped His disciples to understand, receive, believe, accept and live this parable. We, the faithful who want to spread and share the “Word of God”, must be sowers who preach and teach His Word as the message of God and His Kingdom, now, as it was then. The seed is the Word of God, His message. With His help, the Good News of God will fall on good soil, in the heart of men (cf. Matthew 13:19). In the same way, the seed that has fallen into the heart of the disciples of Jesus – now as it was then – is fruitful, ranging up to 100 per cent depending on their disposition.

The Word of God must appear in its entire splendour, even if it is “expressed in human language” (Dei Verbum 13), that is the task of all preachers in the Church and teachers and catechists in schools. May we be guided in our preaching and teaching by Jesus Christ who opened the minds of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Luke 24:27) and the other disciples (cf. v. 45) to the understanding of the scriptures, making their hearts burn within them (cf. v. 32) with the desire to glorify God.


The Gospels tell us about the life of Jesus of Nazareth, who was born in Bethlehem, the town of King David in 7 or 6 B.C. (cf. Matthew 1:18–2:18; Luke 2:1–20) He healed the sick and taught people about God as “Abba, Father” (Mark 14:36). God (cf. 1:11; 9:7) proclaimed Him: the “Christ” (cf. 1:1), the “Son of God”.

After His Death on “Good Friday” (14th Nisan according to the Synoptic Evangelists), and His Resurrection on “Easter Sunday”, the second stage in the development of the Gospels was the oral tradition of the Good News in the preaching of His disciples and Galilean women, such as Mary Magdalene. What could they tell the people? The Acts of the Apostles says: “Someone must join us as a witness to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus. He must be one of the men who has accompanied us during the whole time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning with John’s baptism until the day when Jesus was taken from us” (Acts 1:21–22) and “ascended into Heaven” (1:11).

The Evangelists Mark, Matthew and Luke wrote the three Synoptic Gospels[3] and John wrote the fourth canonical Gospel under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. They related the story/history of Jesus of Nazareth as both the “Son of God” and the “son” of Joseph and Mary and His message of salvation, by selecting some of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form, through the Holy Spirit (= inspiration).


The Bible is like a library. We find two parts in the Holy Scriptures: the “Old Testament” – the “Hebrew Bible” – and the “New Testament” which were written between 1000 B.C. and 100 A.D.

The Holy Bible is based on factual information, and at the same time it is from the eternity of God and it leads us back to His eternity. On the other hand, the reader or the listener of the Bible who wants to understand the words and deeds in it, should read, study, and understand the texts of the ancient world in their original historical context, and project herself/himself into Antiquity, 2000 or even 3000 years ago.

People today find themselves in the same situation as the 1st century Ethiopian in the Acts of the Apostles. They need an interpreter to understand the biblical texts (Acts 8:30–31[4]): Philip asked the Ethiopian: “Do you understand what you are reading?” The Ethiopian replied: “How can I unless someone guides me?” Therefore the “Word of God” has to be made understandable in our time and culture with the help of the Holy Spirit by the works of the scholars, preachers, teachers/professors, catechists, and parents. For example, in the New Testament, what is the intention of Mark? The distance between this ancient text of the 1st century and the reader of the 21st century has to be bridged in order to arrive at the authentic sense of the sacred text. Christians also hear Christ’s voice in the readings and homilies which explain the texts of the Bible in today’s language. They are thus invited to apply these inspired biblical words/texts in their lives. Their different forms – parables, healings, the narratives of His Passion and Resurrection as well as their context (who wrote it, to whom, why), are a personal message from God. We must enter the ancient world so that the written text can become living word.

The Apostle Paul spoke “on Christ’s behalf” (2 Corinthians 5:20) as God’s “mouthpiece” (Galatians 1:10) and placed himself completely at the service of the proclamation of the Gospel. He preached the Good News of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ without compromise (cf. Romans 8:35–37 or 2 Corinthians 11:23–27).

As His “servant”, Paul was His instrument because he only wanted God and Christ to be the focus of his life. He was not a self-centred “minister of the Word of God”. The Spirit of God and Jesus Christ lives in us and is taught through us in words and deeds by means of personal testimony.

According to the “communication model”[5], our role as a SENDER/transmitter (1) and as a “minister of the Word of God” is to reach the members of the Church, the RECEIVERs/ addressees (3) of the apostolic MESSAGE – the Good News (2).

Bishops, priests, deacons, professors, catechists, parents and all the faithful should learn, through frequent reading of the Sacred Scripture(s), to bring the message of the Bible to the ears and hearts of people of our own time. First, we are receivers, and then we can act as God’s servants and Christ’s disciples, and co-workers in the preaching and/or teaching of the message of the Good News. A faithful and true minister of the Word of God receives and hands on what has been received. The truth that saves his life inflames the heart of the receiver with love of neighbour, and motivates him to pass on to others what he has freely received. The principal functions in the pastoral ministry can be distinguished: catechesis, preaching, and the biblical apostolate; the Word of God has to be made understandable in our time and culture – in preaching and/or teaching as well in the biblical apostolate.

How can we guide the people who want to hear and understand the Good News? We have to avoid two extremes[6] when interpreting the Bible:

- on the one hand, we have to protect the interpretation of the Bible from attacks by science which analyses words of the Bible – the so-called “historical-critical methods” – as if they were ordinary writings without the inspiration of the Holy Spirit;

- on the other hand, there is the so-called “mystical exegesis”. This way of understanding the Bible is all symbolic and spiritual as if it had nothing to do with historical facts and the world we live in, and believes that there is no need for science to help in interpreting the Bible. So the Bible is read as if the Spirit dictated it word for word.

“For the words of God, expressed in human language, have been made like human discourse, just as the word of the eternal Father, when He took to Himself the flesh of human weakness, was in every way made like men” (Dei Verbum 13)”. That is the task of all preachers in the Church and teachers and catechists in schools.

May we be guided in our preaching and teaching by Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God who opened the minds of the disciples of Emmaus (Luke 24:27) and the other disciples (v. 45) to the understanding of scripture(s), making their hearts burn within them (v. 32):

“Christ has no hands, only our hands to do His work.

He has no feet, only our feet to lead people on His way.

Christ has no lips, only our lips to tell people about Him.

He has no help, only our help to bring people to His side”.

So runs the prayer of Saint Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582 A.D.).

In this way, we Christians have to present and represent – with body and soul – Jesus Christ, the “Son of God”, the “Christ”, the incarnate “Word of God” so that we already bring a little bit of Heaven to earth.

0. The Macrostructure/Composition of the Gospel according to Mark

We agree with the Dutch biblical scholar Bas M. van Iersel that “two episodes about the healing of a blind man in 8.22–26 and 10.46–52”[11] have a prominent position in Mark’s composition. But I have to modify his interesting viewpoints[12] on the (macro-) structure of the Gospel to Mark as a “sandwich-construction”[13], because the healings of the blind men occur at the conclusion of two sections: Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee (cf. 8:22–26) and His journey “from Galilee to Jerusalem” (cf. 10:46–52). Therefore a structure of the Mark’s Gospel in three parts – cf. Ernest Best, José Ornelas Carvalho, Hans-Joachim Eckstein, Ingo Broer or Udo Schnelle[14] – would be as follows:

1. The Beginning/Prologue (Mark 1:1–13): John the Baptist Baptises Jesus

2. The Central Part: Jesus’ Public Ministry (Mark 1:14–10:52)



3. The End/Epilogue: The Last Days of Jesus in Jerusalem (Mark 11:1–16:8[; 9–20])




Chapter 1

1. Beginning/Prologue: John the Baptist’s Public Ministry in Judea and the Temptation of Jesus (1:1–13)

Microstructure of Mark 1:1–13

A very short prologue introduces the Gospel according to Mark, the Good News about Jesus Christ (cf. v. 1). Then Mark starts his Gospel like an imaginary dialogue between God and the Messiah (in Heaven). Its theme is the coming of the “messenger” Christ/Messiah as a precursor on earth. For this, Mark re-reads and quotes the three texts of the Hebrew Bible (cf. Exodus 23:20; Malachi 3:1[17], and Isaiah 40:3) in verses 2–3 as a fulfilled prophetic promise and prediction of the relationship between John the Baptist, the “precursor”, and Jesus, the “redeemer”. John the Baptist is the one who precedes the Lord, prepares His way, and points to Jesus as the Messiah.

The term “voice” in verses 3 and 11 comes both before and after the narrative about the ministry in word and deed of John the Baptist as the “forerunner”/“precursor” of Jesus (cf. vv. 2–11). A common description of John the Baptist (cf. vv. 2–6) introduces this passage (cf. vv. 4, 6, 9, 14), in which the verb “to baptise” (vv. 4, 5, 8, 9) is dominant. John’s messianic preaching about the Coming of Christ (cf. vv. 7–8) and the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth as the one who comes (cf. vv. 9–11) leads to the public ministry of Jesus in word and deed (cf. 1:12–13:37), and His last days in Jerusalem (cf. 14:1–15:47) as well as His “new Life” as the risen Lord (cf. 16:1–8[, 9–20]).

After the ministry of John the Baptist (cf. 1:2–11) and his arrest (v. 14a[18] – cf. 6:17–18), Jesus’ ministry in Galilee as a preacher[19] (v. 14c), teacher and healer begins (cf. 1:14b–6:13), after undergoing the temptation in the desert (cf. vv. 12–13[20]). Mark ends his prologue with a struggle between Jesus as “Son of God” (v. 1) and “Satan” (v. 13).

Commentary on Mark 1:1–13

1.1 PROLOGUE (1:1[21])

Two Evangelists, Mark and John, open their Gospel with the word “beginning”, like Genesis 1:1, the first book of the Bible. Mark’s first sentence is written like a headline without a verb. One finds similar writings in the Septuagint, in the Proverbs, Song of Songs, Hosea, and in the Gospel of Matthew, and also in the Book of Revelation. “Jesus, the ‘Christ’[22] (and the one true ‘Son of God’” – v. 11; 15:39 – the confession of the Roman centurion), is the central topic of the Gospel according to Mark. The word “gospel”[23] is a term for the “Good News”. Its object is not only the “Good News” of salvation in Jesus Christ or the message about His great works – His powerful teaching and preaching, His Death on the Cross and His Resurrection at Easter – but it is written by the Spirit of Jesus as subject. The title is the key to the whole Gospel according to Mark.


- His Description as the “Precursor” of Christ (vv. 2–6)

Who: John the Baptist

Where: “desert” (vv. 3–4), “Jordan” (vv. 5, 9)

vv. 2–3: After the short “prologue”/introduction, Mark begins his Gospel like an imaginary dialogue between God and the Messiah (in Heaven). Its subject is the “messenger” of (the coming of) the Christ/Messiah. To this end, Mark quotes three texts of the Hebrew Bible/“Old Testament”: Exodus 23:20; Malachi 3:1[25], and Isaiah 40:3[26] as a fulfilled prophecy and promise of the relationship between John the Baptist, His “precursor”, and Jesus of Nazareth, the “redeemer”. John the Baptist is the one who preceded the Lord, prepared His way, and showed Jesus as the Messiah. Because his mission was the revelation of Jesus’ identity, he is a model of the perfect witness of the Christ. The meaning of the composite quotation is that people should amend their selfish way of life, renounce and repent their sins, seek God’s forgiveness, and establish a steadfast relationship with God. In Mark’s time as well as today, we have to be ready for the second coming of Christ.

v. 2: The “precursor” and “messenger”[27] has to prepare “the way of God” (12:14). According to John, Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:4–6).

v. 3: At the beginning of Mark’s Gospel, a “loud voice” proclaims the coming Lord; and at the end, before Jesus dies, He utters a passage of Psalm 22 “in a loud voice” (15:34). Therefore in the context of the Passion, the verb “prepare” is used for the preparation of the Last Supper (14:12, 15, 16). “Desert” is the leading word for the temptation of Jesus in verses 12–13. Isaiah 40:1–5 describes Israel’s return from exile in Babylon. So this text is an expression of God’s consolation and salvation for the (chosen) Jewish people.

vv. 4[28]–5[29]: “Desert”[30] in verses 3a and 4a is also the leading word for beginning of the short (historical) description of John the Baptist[31] (cf. vv. 4–6). The place of his ministry had been the desert[32] – Bethany (cf. John 1:28), near Jericho and Qumran – since his youth (cf. Luke 1:80). He had his own disciples[33] and preached and called for the conversion or a change of life by a ritual bath in the Jordan[34] (cf. vv. 5, 9). This was a visible sign (cf. v. 5c) combined with the public confession of “sins”[35] and their forgiveness (cf. vv. 4, 5). The mission of the (eschatological) messianic “preacher of repentance[36]” John the Baptist was to prepare people to accept Jesus as the “Christ” and “Son of God” (v. 1).

v. 5: The whole of Judea and its capital Jerusalem were making the repentance pilgrimage in order to be baptized (cf. Acts 13:24; 19:4). What about the two districts of Galilee and Samaria? Was baptism limited to the region of Judea? The Evangelist reminded the “Chosen People” of the story of the crossing of the river Jordan (cf. Joshua 3:17–4:1).

v. 6: According to 2 Kings 1:8, the simple, poor, austere lifestyle of John the Baptist, which contrasts to that of the scribes (cf. 12:38) – where he eats only locusts, wild honey, and no meat and wine (note Matthew 3:4) – makes him the “new prophet Elijah”, the precursor of the second coming of Christ in the Jewish tradition/belief (cf. Malachi 3:23). In the eyes of the Jewish people at the time of Jesus, the ascetic John the Baptist was a prophetic figure in the model of Elijah (cf. in particular 6:15; 9:13).

- John’s Messianic Preaching and His Self-Assessment (vv. 7–8[37])

The special goals of John the Baptist were: to “preach” (vv. 4b, 7a) and to “baptize” (vv. 4a, b, 5c, 8a, b, 9).

v. 7: John the Baptist replies in his humility that he is not worthy[38] to bend[39] and untie the sandals of the One “who is before him” – Jesus. He says that Jesus, the Christ, would be infinitely greater than he.

v. 8: He predicted the identity of Jesus as the coming Lord, the Messiah (Hebrew), the Christ (Greek), and makes a comparison between his mission – it still existed at the time of Mark! – and that of Jesus: John the Baptist baptises with water (cf. vv. 8, 10) from the river Jordan[40] in the desert, but the coming Christ (Jesus) baptises with (the power of) the Holy Spirit[41]. The cleansing by the ritual bath/dipping and the sending of the Holy Spirit renews the heart and the mind (cf. Ezekiel 36:24–28). John’s baptism with water which prepared the people to receive Jesus’ ministry in word and deed was the beginning of the spiritual process. In this way, Jesus completed and fulfilled all that John began and prepared. Mark tells us that Jesus blends into the mass of sinners to receive the baptism of forgiveness of sins by John the Baptist in verses 9–11. The special actions of John the Baptist were: to “preach”[42] (vv. 4b, 7a) and to “baptize” (vv. 4a, b, 5c, 8a, b, 9).

- The Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (vv. 9–11[43])

Who: John the Baptist, Jesus, a dove (= the Holy Spirit), a divine voice

Where: “Jordan” (vv. 5, 9)

According to Luke 3:23, the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist was followed by: “NowJesus Himself wasabout thirty years oldwhen he began his ministry”.

v. 9: A new situation with respect to time (9a: “in those days”) and place (the change from His Galilean[44] hometown Nazareth[45] to the river Jordan) – introduces the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee by John[46] the Baptist[47] in the river Jordan (cf. v. 5).

v. 10: A word is typical of Mark’s Gospel, “immediately”[48], together with the Greek word “comeup” (“ana b a í n o”[49]), introduce a contrast between the temporal act of the baptism by submersion in water and through the term “comedown” (“kata b a í n o”[50]) the divine and transcendental event of the Holy Spirit coming down like a dove[51]. In this context, the passage in Mark 11:30 is very interesting. Jesus asks the religious leaders in Jerusalem about the authority of John’s baptism as follows: “Was it from Heaven, or from men?”

v. 11: As a vision (v. 10b–c) and a voice (v. 11a), God Himself proclaims[52] Jesus as His “beloved”[53], (divine) Son[54] (cf. Mark 14:61). We have the same heavenly proclamation in the context of His Transfiguration on the mountain[56] in Mark 9:7/Matthew 17:5; Luke 9:35 as a communication from (the heavenly) God with His Son on earth: Heaven plus (+) earth. It is God, who reigns in Heaven, sent His Spirit upon Jesus in the visual form of a dove. So, we see here all three “beings”, “members”, “persons” – here not in the modern understanding of individual – of the triune God in their relationship, the Trinity[57], like the “baptismal formula” of Matthew in 28:19: “the Father and … the Son and … the Holy Spirit”. Jesus’ role as Messiah did not derive from His baptism by John the Baptist but was based directly on God, the Father. After His baptism, Jesus was ready/prepared for the start of His public ministry with divine power.

1.3 JESUS’ TEMPTATION (vv. 12–13[58])

Who: Jesus, the Holy “Spirit” (v. 12), “Satan” (v. 13a), “the angels” (v. 13c)

Where: “in the desert” (vv. 3–4, 12–13)

When: “Jesus himself was about thirty” (Luke 3:23)

How long: “40[59]days” (v. 13a)

In a very short version, Mark just mentions the temptation[60] of Jesus by “Satan”[61] in the “desert”[62]. With wild “animals”[63] there, it is a solitary place (cf. Mark 1:3, 4; 2:13; 6:31–32, 35) that is ideal for prayer, contemplation, talking to God, and for renewing His spiritual power in/through God. His “time out” and “preparation time” lasted 40 days[64], after which He started his public ministry in Galilee. Unlike “Satan”[65], an angel who rebelled against God, the “angels” – the good ones – served Him and He accepted their service (cf. Matthew 4:[6,]11).

2. Central Part: The Public Ministry of Jesus, the “Christ”, in and beyond Galilee (1:14–8:26) and the Public Ministry of Jesus, the “Son of God”, on His Journey to Jerusalem (8:27–10:52)

Microstructure of Mark 1:14–45 in the Central Part of the Gospel (1:14–10:52)

The programmatic statement of the Evangelist sums up the basic meaning of the public ministry of Jesus in Galilee as a “general call”[66] (vv. 14–15[67]).

In the “report of a day in Capernaum” on the Sabbath, Mark describes the first day in which Jesus, a Jew, acted like a rabbi, preaching in the synagogue in the Jewish tradition and also as a healer of all sick people. There was a man (singular, masculine), a woman (singular, feminine), and many others (plural) in different settings and places (cf. vv. 21, 23a, 29a–b, 33, 35c) as well as different times (vv. 21b, 23a, 29a, 32a, 35a–b).

In the first of five healings (vv. 23–28, 29–31, 32–34, 40–45; 2:1–12): Jesus teaches in the synagogue of Capernaum (cf. vv. 21–22, 27d) with authority (cf. vv. 22b, 27d), and heals a man with an unclean spirit (vv. 23–28).

The second healing is that of Simon’s mother-in-law (cf. vv. 29–31). A cursory note about the healing of many sick people (cf. vv. 32–34) by Jesus is structured like ancient stories of healings. The dialogue between Simon and Jesus (vv. 36–38) introduces with the mention that Jesus had a “time out” for prayer (cf. v. 35) after His healing actions and concludes with a general statement about His preaching/teaching in Galilean synagogues (v. 39).

Mark structured the “cleansing of the leper” (cf. vv. 40–45) as an ancient classical healing story with the actor (leper in vv. 40, 42, 45a–b) and Jesus (vv. 41, 43–44, 45c–e). He did this, with the linguistic help of the conjunction “and” in verses 40a, c, 41a, b, 42a, b, 43a, 44a and the verb “come” in combination with various prefixes in verses 40a (“come”), 42 (“come away”/left), 45a (“went out”) and 45b (“come in”/enter).

Commentary on Mark 1:14–45


Who: John the Baptist, Jesus

Where: Galilee

When: “Jesus himself was about thirty” (Luke 3:23)

v. 14: John the Baptist was the “forerunner”/the “precursor” of Jesus (cf. vv. 2–11). With his arrest (cf. 6:17–29), Jesus was ready “to stand in the breach” and to begin His ministry like a (last) “relay runner”. His ministry was – to preach the Good News. Mark uses the term “Good News”[70] (vv. 1, 14–15) like a headline in verses 14c (“the Good News of God”) and 15d, the term which introduces his Gospel (v. 1: “the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”). This title is the key to the whole Gospel according to Mark. The “Good News”/“Gospel” has God as its subject, and God’s action as its object, but it is written by the Spirit of Jesus as its subject. In this way, Jesus, the Son of God, is God’s Good News in person.

v. 15: The Evangelist presented Jesus as John’s successor because He also preached – note John the Baptist in verse 4[71] – repentance[72] (cf. v. 4) of His/their listeners as a personal radical change respectively new orientation towards God in the form of a correction of the minds and deeds by “180-degrees” in the eschatological sense. Their message and call was in the form of two sentences in the perfect tense (“The time has come” – “the Kingdom of God is near”), suggesting to “usethe time[73], and two imperatives: repentand believe” (in Him, the Son of God)! The purpose of this exhortation is to reach what Mark calls “the Kingdom of God”[74] and Matthew “the Kingdom of Heaven”[75]. In this way, the words of John the Baptist and of Jesus bring “Heaven to earth”[76]. “The ‘Kingdom of God’ is not to be found on any map. It is not a kingdom after the fashion of worldly kingdoms; it is located in man’s inner being. It grows and radiates outward from that inner space”[77].


2.2.1 The Call of the First Four Disciples (1:16–20[78])

- The Call of the (First Set of) Brothers Simon and Andrew (vv. 16–18)

Who: Jesus, Simon, Andrew

Where: the lakeside of the “Sea of Galilee” (v. 16a)

v. 16: Jesus “came[79] by the lakeside of the “Sea of Galilee”[80], saw” (vv. 16b, 19a) “Simon” and his “brother” “Andrew”[81] (v. 16a) and talked to them in the form of an order:

v. 17: “Comeafter me” (cf. vv. 17b, 20c)! First, they were Galilean “fishermen”[82] (vv. 18–19) from Capernaum or from Bethsaida (cf. John 1:44). Their occupation was a small fishing-business – a major industry in Galilee: Their normal round of daily work was fishing on the “Sea of Galilee”/“Lake of Kinnereth” by boat and washing and also repairing their “casting net”(s)[83] (vv. 18a, 19b).

v. 18: Their question was: Should they accept the invitation “comeafter Jesus” or not? “Immediately” – in contrast to the call of Elisha through Elijah in 1 Kings 8:21, 10:37–38; 19:19–21 –, they decided for Jesus so that they “left their nets and followed Him”[84] (v. 18 – note the parallel in v. 20) in response to His call. After the call by Jesus, then Simon and Andrew became “fishers of men” (note for this metaphor Jeremiah 16:15–16) in the sense of “headhunters”. The two Galilean fishermen, who caught fish before, left their fishing business and changed their lives (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:26–27) as His co-workers.

According to the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, both were His first disciples. However the Fourth Gospel tells us that Jesus calls Andrew and one unnamed person (maybe John[85], the Apostle or/and the Evangelist, the Seer of Patmos and author of Book of the Revelation) while they were in the company of John the Baptist (John 1:35–40).

- The Call of the (Second Set of) Brothers James and John (vv. 19–20)

v. 19: In the second encounter Jesus “came”, “saw” (cf. v. 16b) the fishermen “James” and “(his) brother ( )” “John”, the “sons of Zebedee” in their “boat”[86]

v. 20: and He “called them” (cf. v. 17; 2:17). Their re-action is like that of Simon and Andrew – “immediately” “they left all” (cf. 1 Kings 19:19–21) – their father/family and their life as “fishermen” – to follow Jesus, to invest their future in Him as His disciples and to become “fishers of men”.

A divine call/vocation is a direct summons in which God makes clear to the man that He has chosen and destined him for a particular mission in His plan of salvation[87]. Jesus, the “Son of God” (Mark 1:11 and John 1:34), calls His disciples in this manner. His first four disciples – Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, John (cf. vv. 16–20, 29; 3:16–18a; 5:37; 9:2; 13:3; 14:33) – were fishermen, but the discipleship is not limited to Galileans and fishermen, as shown in the example of the tax collector Levi in Mark 2:13–17/Luke 5:27–32 or Matthew in Matthew 9:9–11; 10:3. The call changes the life of these men, not merely externally, but in the inner most part of their being, for it makes them new men.

The new community around Jesus is similar to following[88] a rabbi. In contrast to a rabbi or a philosopher, Jesus calls His “students”/disciples as His personal collaborators who will follow Him as teachers and healers – in word and deed. At first, there were only four disciples, then others followed them. The “twelve” disciples were following in His footsteps, and were sent out to administer/lead on behalf of Jesus as His companions and co-workers, as “fishers of men” or “ambassadors” of the “Kingdom of God”.

2.2.2 His Teaching and Healing in the Synagogue of Capernaum (vv. 21–28[89])

Where: Capernaum (v. 21a): synagogue (vv. 21b, 23a, 29a); Simon’s house (vv. 29b, 33), “a solitary place” (v. 35c)

Who: Jesus, a sick man (vv. 23–26), His first four disciples (vv. 29, 36–38a), Simon’s mother-in-law (vv. 30–31); “the crowd” of Galilee (vv. 22, 27–28, 32b–34, 37)

When: Sabbath (vv. 21b, 32a, 35a)

- The Setting as a Summary (vv. 21–22[90])

v. 21: The “one day in Capernaum” is the first day of Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee (cf. 1:14–6:13). On this day, He acted as teacher and healer in word and deed. The plural in verse 21a is linked with the story of the call of His first four disciples (cf. vv. 16–20). These four names are also mentioned in verse 29. So, Jesus and His disciples came from the “Sea of Galilee” to Capernaum (= “village of Nahum/Comfort” – cf. 2:1; 9:33), on the northwest shore of this lake. This city – the “adopted town”[91] of Jesus – was the centre of His activities in Galilee because, as the headquarters of many Roman troops, it was an ideal place for Jesus to bring the Good News of God’s Kingdom to the people, both Jews and non-Jews.

The “Sabbath” begins with the sunset on Friday evening (v. 21) and ends with the sunset on Saturday (v. 32a–b). The Jewish men must go to the synagogue as a house of prayer and as schoolhouse – and so did Jesus, who was a Jew[92] (cf. Mark 3:1–2), and His Galilean disciples (6:2). The first part of the service in the synagogue would be prayers (“Shema Israel” and “Shmone-Esre”/“Amidah” [2 Maccabees 1:24–29]), scripture readings, and the second part would be teaching and preaching. Anyone of sufficient learning could be invited to teach without having undertaken rabbinical studies: Jesus also – in the synagogues (6:2), in the Temple of Jerusalem (cf. 11:17; 12:35; 14:49) and everywhere else (cf. 2:13 [by the lake]; 4:1 [by the lake]; 6:6 [in villages], 34 [by the lake]; 8:31 [first prediction of the Passion]; 9:31 [second prediction]; 10:1 [the region of Judea]). Because of His healing on the Sabbath (note 1:23–28, 29–31, 32–34; 3:1–6), Jesus as healer has come into conflict with the law of the Sabbath (cf. Exodus 23:12; 31:12–17; Numbers 15:27–36) which is a gift of God for the relaxing of body and soul (cf. the “Third Commandment” of the so-called “Ten Words” in Exodus 20:8–11/Deuteronomy 5:12–15). Usually Jesus accepted the law of Sabbath, but when facing someone in distress, for example, sickness or hunger, the human being takes precedence: “The Sabbath was made for man” (cf. Exodus 23:12; Deuteronomy 5:14), “not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27 – cf. Luke 6:5).

v. 22: Therefore because of the amazed/astonished (positive!?) reaction (cf. Mark [10:32;] 11:18) of the congregation, Jesus read the scripture and preached/taught: His “teaching”/“preaching” had (divine) “authority”/“power” (cf. vv. 22a, 27d; 2:10; 3:15; 6:7) as “the Son of God” (1:1), in contrast to the scribes[93] (cf. 12:38) who seemed poor in comparison. They were experts in the Hebrew Bible – our “Old Testament” –, the Jewish law of the theocracy of Israel, and yet the words of Jesus are powerful and divine, spoken in the name of God.

- His Action/Exorcism in Words (vv. 23–26)

v. 23: A new situation in the synagogue is introduced by the description of a man with an unclean spirit[94] (cf. the “diagnosis” of his sickness in vv. 23, 26–27). In Jesus’ time, sickness was considered in Jewish understanding (cf., for example, Psalm 38:2–21; John 9:2) to be God’s punishment for sins. The evil spirit/demon in the man is crying/shouting (cf. 6:49 [His disciples])

v. 24: a description: The man “Jesus of Nazareth” (cf. 10:47; 14:67; 16:6; Luke 4:34; 24:19) is also the (divine/heavenly) “Holy One of God”[95]. The evil spirit knows who Jesus is (cf. Mark 1:34; 3:11–12), and acknowledges Him as “the Messiah”/“the Christ”. Jesus is their very opposite. That is the reason why the demon from the spiritual underworld cannot remain in His presence (v. 24a: “what is between us and you?”[96]/“what do you want with us”?”). There is no possible relationship between the evil (under-) world and the “divine” Jesus of Nazareth.

v. 25: Jesus has ordered (“Be quiet” – “come out”, cf. 4:39; 9:25; 13:48) the demon(s) to go out like an exorcism without mysterious means.

v. 26: His command was enough to let the demon(s) “come out”/send out (cf. vv. 25b, 26b; 7:26, 29; 9:25–26, 38) loudly (cf. 5:7) who was/were powerless against Jesus’ powerful healing words (9:25) and had no chance to resist it (note 9:20, 26).

- The Reaction of the People (vv. 27–28)

v. 27: The visitors of the synagogue in Capernaum – including Simon (Peter), Andrew, James, John – were witnesses of Jesus’ great and remarkable authority in word and deed. Therefore they asked the question of His identity: “Who is Jesus” (v. 27c)? Mark gave the answer to this question earlier: The “rabbi” of God’s Word and the “healer” “is the Nazarene” (v. 24a) and “the Holy God” (v. 24c). This “Good News” about Jesus could not be keep secretly and stay only in the synagogue. The visitors’ amazement about Jesus’ good actions (cf. 10:32) made them His promoters outside of the synagogue in the city of Capernaum

v. 28: and in the whole region of Galilee (note 1:14–6:13). They acclaimed/proclaimed Him – He is truly a teacher and healer with authority in word and deed.

2.2.3 His Healing of Simon’s Mother-in-Law in her/his House (vv. 29–31[97])

Who: Jesus, James, John, (Andrew), Simon and his mother-in-law

Where: in Simon and Andrew’s house (in Capernaum)

- The Setting (v. 29)

“Immediately” after the service in the synagogue, Jesus and His first four disciples – two sets of brothers[98] (cf. vv. 16–20) – change place: from the synagogue to Simon’s house[99] which was His/their base/headquarters/“home”.

- The Diagnosis (v. 30)

The new person – Simon’s mother-in-law[100] – is the centre of the second “healing story”. The diagnosis of her sickness is short: She is “lying” down (cf. 5:41 – the resurrection of the daughter of Jaïrus) in bed with “fever”[101] (cf. vv. 30b, 31c; Luke 4:38c, 39b or John 4:52). That is the reason that she was not active. Therefore the disciples James, John, Simon (and Andrew) talked about the distress of Simon’s mother-in-law (cf. Psalm 38:12 or Job 6:14–30) and not with her.

- Her Healing by Jesus (v. 31a–b)

Jesus came, saw and conquered the fever of Simon’s mother-in-law. Jesus, who had no fear of contact with the sick, healed her by touching her “hand”[102] and the fever “left” her.

- Her Reaction (v. 31c)

Her serving them proves her sudden and complete recovery – at first, she was passive, but after her healing, she could be active. According to the Jewish tradition, she “served”[103]/ministered supper to the group around Jesus after regaining her health by His touch.

2.2.4 Summary[104] of Some Healings and the Reaction of the People (vv. 32–34[105])

- The Setting (vv. 32–33)

A genitivus absolutus – note the participle “genoménes” in combination with the genitive “opsías” of the noun “opsía”[106] (cf. 1:32; 4:35; 6:47; 14:17; 15:42) – introduces His exorcism/healing in Capernaum after sunset[107] because of His healing(s) in Capernaum on the Sabbath day: “All inhabitants of the city” (v. 33) of Capernaum brought (cf. 2:3; 7:32; 8:22; 9:17) their sick (cf. vv. 32, 34; 2:17; 6:55) and those possessed by demon/s (cf. 5:13, 16, 18) in front of (the “door” – cf. 2:2) Simon’s (mother-in-law’s) house, hoping that He could heal and exorcize them like the man with an unclean spirit in the synagogue (cf. vv. 23–28).

- His Healing of Many Sick People (v. 34)

The summary note about His generally powerful healing (cf. 3:2, 10; 6:5[, 13]) of “many” – note the different word “all” in Matthew 8:16; Luke 4:40 – sick men and women concludes the first “day of Jesus’ public ministry in Capernaum”. As in Mark 1:24, the demons[108] recognize Jesus’ true identity, but He has the last (powerful) word and not the demons.

2.2.5 His Departure from Capernaum (vv. 35–38[109])

- The Note about His Praying (vv. 35–37a)

v. 35: A new scene again: Early in the morning (cf. 15:1; 16:2, 9) on the next day (= Sunday at dawn – using a genitivus absolutus: “opsías” [genitive] “dè genoménes” [particle]), Jesus quietly goes off to a lonely place (cf. 1:3, 4; 2:13; 6:31, 32, 35) to pray[110] alone with God (cf. 6:46 or 14:32, 35, 38, 39; 15:33–34) and to “refresh”/“refill” (spiritually, contemplatively) His power in/through God after His powerful acts of preaching and healing (cf. vv. 21–28, 29–31, 32–34).

vv. 36–37a: Like in verses 16–20, 29–30, 36–38, Simon and his companions (= Andrew, James and John, sons of Zebedee) are actors of the scene. They were looking for Him. This time, they disturb His “time out” because they find Him[111] (cf. 3:32 or John 6:24).

- The Dialogue (vv. 37b–38)

In the dialogue between Jesus and the group around Simon, He suggests that His ministry is not only limited to the city of Capernaum. His mission of preaching and healing is for all of Galilee (or Israel? – cf. Mark 1:14–15) – up to Jerusalem – it is the centre/“navel” of the Jewish world –, place of His Death (cf. 11:1–15:47) and Resurrection on Easter Sunday morning (cf. 16:1–8). That means that His call is not a regional one, but it is a universal/global one.

2.2.6 Summary[112] of His First Preaching Journey through Galilee (v. 39[113])

Mark’s third general note (cf. 1:14–15, 21–22) emphasizes Jesus’ intention to continue His ministry of preaching and healing, as well as “exorcizing”, throughout the region of Galilee (1:14–6:13) as God’s servant armed only with His mouth (in word) and hand (in deed).

2.2.7 His Healing of the Leper (vv. 40–45[114])

Where: somewhere in Galilee (cf. v. 39) perhaps outside a settlement because lepers usually had to live in caves far from other (healthy) people

Who: a leper, Jesus, the priest (cf. v. 44), the Galilean people (cf. v. 45)

- The Setting/the Diagnosis (v. 40a)

Leviticus 13:1–46 states that the “Law of Moses” describes the various kinds of illness and rules regarding infectious skin diseases. The diagnosis of man’s sickness is clear: leprosy (cf. 2 Kings 5:1–19 or Mark 14:3: “Simon the Leper” or Luke 17:11–19: “the Ten Lepers”). The Jewish leaders and the priests had declared the people who had leprosy “unclean”. That meant that lepers were unfit to participate in any religious or social activity. Because the laws said that contact with any unclean person made a person unclean too, some people even threw stones at lepers to keep them at a safe distance: They were separated from both family and community, and so were isolated and alone – “living dead”. The Jewish people believed sickness was God’s punishment for a sinful life (cf. Exodus 34:7; Leviticus 26:14–46; Numbers 12:9–12; 21:6; Psalms 32:10; 38:1–22; 39:12; 41:5; 103:3; Job 22:1–11; 34:11or John 9:2–3).

- The Request of the Leper (v. 40b–d)

On his own initiative, the leper emphatically begs[115] Jesus, while kneeling as a sign of his respect and desire to honour (cf. Mark 10:17 or Matthew 17:14), to make him clean/to heal him: “If you want, you can make me clean”.

- His Healing by His Word (v. 41)

Jesus wants to heal the leper; the healing takes place by word: “I want – be clean” and through touch (to extend His hand and touch[116]him with His hand” – cf. Mark 3:5[117]), because He is filled with com-passion[118] for outcasts; such is Jesus’ divine will and power as “the Christ” and “Son of God” (1:1). He has no fear of contact with the sick, who in Jewish eyes are sinful people: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (2:17). They believed sickness was God’s punishment for a sinful life (cf. Exodus 34:7; Leviticus 26:14–46; Numbers 12:9–12; 21:6; Psalms 32:10; 38:1–22; 39:12; 41:5; 103:3; Job 22:1–11; 34:11 or John 9:2–3).The laws also said that contact with any unclean person made a person unclean too.

- Declaration of his Healing (v. 42)

The comment of the Evangelist states that “immediately”[119] the unclean leper was cleansed through Jesus’ will and power by mere word and touch.

- His Command/Advice to the Healed Man (vv. 43–44)

Again in Leviticus 14:1–32/15:18 is stated that the “Law of Moses”[120] dictates that a healed leper had to go to Jerusalem so that a priest could examine him – as a sign of Jesus’ and the leper’s respect and acceptance of the law. Therefore Jesus advised/ordered the healed man: “Go” directly – “do not tell anyone” – and “show yourself to the priest” in Jerusalem according to “Moses”[121] (cf. Leviticus 14:1–32). Then he should “offer the gift” (cf. Leviticus 14:4 [first day: two live clean birds], 10 [on the eighth day: two male lambs and a one-year-old female lamb]). In this way, those who were cured/cleansed got the chance to re-enter society: The outcast can return to the religious and civil life of the Jewish theocracy in community, in a “180-degree-turn”: before, the sick person was like a “living dead”, and after the healing, he/she will have another chance – a new life. To send the healed leper to a priest was also a way to verify Jesus’ powerful healing.

Jesus warns the man to remain silent about his healing (cf. in particular Mark 7:36 or for His disciples in 8:30 and 9:9 – the so-called “Mark messianic secret”).

- Different Reactions (v. 45)

The first reaction was that the healed man ignored Jesus’ advice by making his healing public – “spreading the news”/preaching[122] – to everybody and everywhere in Galilee.

The second reaction was that the people (of the cities[123]) came to Jesus – a sign of their proclamation/acclamation. He could not stay in a town openly, but had to stay outside in lonely places as in a “desert” in the sense of a “time out” in order to pray to/stay in contact/relation with God the Father (cf. vv. 3–4; 2:13; 6:31, 32, 35, 46; 14:32, 35, 38, 39; 15:33–34).

Chapter 2

Microstructure of Mark 2:1–3:6 in the Context of Jesus’ Healing and Preaching Ministry in Galilee (1:16–8:26) in the Central Part of the Gospel (1:14–10:52)

With a clear parallel to the five healings (cf. 1:23–28, 29–31, 32–34, 40–45; 2:1–12), Mark composed five stories of conflicts (cf. 2:1–3:6[124]) with various opponents of Jesus – the scribes (cf. 2:6–7 ), the scribes of the Pharisees (note v. 16), the disciples of John the Baptist (cf. v. 18), the Pharisees (cf. vv. 18, 24; 3:6), and the Herodians (cf. 3:6): because of His forgiveness of sins, denounced as blasphemy (cf. 2:1–12), His eating with sinners such as tax collectors, the call of Levi, a tax collector, as His disciple (cf. vv. 13–17), the “liberal”/lax practice of fasting by His disciples (cf. vv. 18–22), and the ignorance of the Sabbath by His disciples (cf. vv. 23–28) and Himself (cf. 3:1–6), “Jesus meets increasing opposition”[125]. The first (cf. vv. 1–12) of these five is a combination of healing (cf. vv. 1–5, 10c–12) and controversy (cf. vv. 6–10b) by making a verbal statement of Jesus – in particular with the use of questions (cf. vv. 8c, 9a–c) and imperatives (cf. vv. 9d–f, 11b–d) – on the subject of forgiveness of sins (cf. vv. 5c, [7,] 8c–11). Like Mark 1:40–45, the text of Mark 2:1–12 is also structured through the use of the conjunction “and