Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Mark
Book: Mark
Chapter: 1

The office of John the Baptist. (1-8) The Baptism and
Temptation of Christ. (9-13) Christ preaches and calls
disciples. (14-22) He casts out an unclean Spirit. (23-28) He
heals many diseased. (29-39) He heals a leper. (40-45)

1-8. Isaiah and Malachi each spake concerning the beginning of
the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of John. From these
prophets we may observe, that Christ, in his Gospel, comes among
us, bringing with him a treasure of Grace, and a Sceptre of
government. Such is the corruption of the world, that there is
great opposition to his progress. When God sent his Son into the
world, he took care, and when he sends him into the Heart, he
takes care, to prepare his way before him. John thinks himself
unworthy of the meanest office about Christ. The most eminent
saints have always been the most humble. They feel their need of
Christ's atoning Blood and sanctifying Spirit, more than others.
The great promise Christ makes in his Gospel to those who have
repented, and have had their sins forgiven them, is, they shall
be baptized with the Holy Ghost; shall be purified By his
graces, and refreshed By his comforts. We use the ordinances,
Word, and sacraments without profit and comfort, for the most
part, because we have not of that Divine Light within us; and we
have it not because we ask it not; for we have his Word that
cannot fail, that our heavenly Father will give this Light, his
Holy Spirit, to those that ask it.

9-13 Christ's Baptism was his first public appearance, after he
had long lived unknown. How much hidden worth is there, which in
this world is not known! But sooner or later it shall be known,
as Christ was. He took upon himself the likeness of sinful
Flesh; and thus, for our sakes, he sanctified himself, that we
also might be sanctified, and be baptized with him, Joh 17:19.
See how honourably God owned him, when he submitted to John's
Baptism. He saw the Spirit descending upon him like a Dove. We
may see Heaven opened to us, when we perceive the Spirit
descending and working upon us. God's good work in us, is sure
evidence of his good will towards us, and preparations for us.
As to Christ's Temptation, Mark notices his being in the
Wilderness and that he was with the wild beasts. It was an
instance of his Father's care of him, which encouraged him the
more that his Father would provide for him. Special protections
are earnests of seasonable supplies. The Serpent tempted the
first Adam in the garden, the Second Adam in the Wilderness;
with different success indeed; and ever since he still tempts
the children of both, in all places and conditions. Company and
Conversation have their temptations; and being alone, even in a
Wilderness, has its own also. No place or state exempts, No
business, not lawful labouring, Eating, or drinking, not even
fasting and praying; often in these duties there are the most
assaults, but in them is the sweetest victory. The ministration
of the good angels is matter of great comfort in reference to
the malignant designs of the evil angels; but much more does it
comfort us, to have the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit in our

14-22 Jesus began to preach in Galilee, after that John was Put
in Prison. If some be laid aside, others shall be raised up, to
carry On the same work. Observe the great truths Christ
preached. By Repentance we give Glory to our Creator whom we
have offended; By Faith we give Glory to our Redeemer who came
to save us from our sins. Christ has joined these two together,
and let No Man think to Put them asunder. Christ puts honour
upon those who, though mean in this world, are diligent in their
business and kind to one another. Industry and unity are good
and pleasant, and the Lord Jesus commands a blessing On them.
Those whom Christ calls, must leave all to follow him; and By
his Grace he makes them willing to do So. Not that we must needs
go out of the world, but we must sit loose to the world; forsake
every thing that is against our duty to Christ, and that cannot
be kept without hurt to our souls. Jesus strictly kept the
Sabbath Day, By applying himself unto, and abounding in the
Sabbath work, in order to which the Sabbath Rest was appointed.
There is much in the doctrine of Christ that is astonishing; and
the more we hear it, the more cause we see to admire it.

23-28 The Devil is an unclean Spirit, because he has lost all
the purity of his nature, because he Acts in direct opposition
to the Holy Spirit of God, and By his suggestions defiles the
spirits of men. There are many in our assemblies who quietly
attend under merely formal teachers; but if the Lord come with
Faithful ministers and holy doctrine, and By his convincing
Spirit, they are ready to say, like this Man, What have we to do
with thee, Jesus of Nazareth! No disorder could enable a Man to
know Jesus to be the Holy One of God. He desires to have nothing
to do with Jesus, for he despairs of being saved By him, and
dreads being destroyed By him. See whose language those speak,
that say to the Almighty, Depart from us. This unclean Spirit
hated and dreaded Christ, because he knew him to be a Holy One;
for the Carnal mind is Enmity against God, especially against
his Holiness. When Christ By his Grace delivers souls out of the
hands of Satan, it is not without tumult in the soul; for that
spiteful enemy will disquiet those whom he cannot destroy. This
Put all who saw it upon considering, What is this new doctrine?
A work as great often is wrought now, yet men treat it with
contempt and neglect. If this were not So, the Conversion of a
notorious wicked Man to a sober, righteous, and godly Life, By
the preaching of a crucified Saviour, would cause many to ask,
What doctrine is this?

29-39 Wherever Christ comes, he comes to do good. He cures,
that we may Minister to him, and to others who are his, and for
his sake. Those kept from public ordinances By sickness or other
real hindrances, may expect the Saviour's gracious presence; he
will soothe their sorrows, and abate their pains. Observe how
numerous the patients were. When others speed Well with Christ,
it should quicken us in seeking after him. Christ departed into
a solitary place. Though he was in No danger of distraction, or
of Temptation to vain-Glory, yet he retired. Those who have the
most business in public, and of the best kind, must yet
sometimes be alone with God.

40-45 We have here Christ's cleansing of a leper. It teaches us
to apply to the Saviour with great Humility, and with full
submission to his will, saying, "Lord, if thou wilt," without
any doubt of Christ's readiness to help the distressed. See also
what to expect from Christ; that according to our Faith it shall
be to us. The Poor leper said, If thou wilt. Christ readily
wills favours to those who readily refer themselves to his will.
Christ would have nothing done that looked like seeking praise
of the people. But No reasons now exist why we should hesitate
to spread the praises of Christ.