The shortest of the four records of the life of Jesus, the book of Mark was evidently written for a mainly Roman audience. It presents Jesus as a grown man, focusing primarily on the things He did and said, with considerable emphasis on the miracles He performed. Mark’s account moves rapidly, as would befit a Roman military report.
Brother Johnny Ramsey used to say that we should “obey now what you know now.” This is a quaint way of stating what James and John did, when Jesus called them to be His disciples (Mark 1:20); when He called, they responded without delay. It is important to understand that the Master’s “call” (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:14) demands an answer, a prompt and deliberate response.
Note in chapter 1:30 that “Simon’s wife’s mother” had a fever; the “Simon” in view here is none other than Simon Peter (vs. 16, cf. Matthew 4:18). Peter would not only become one of the apostles, but also an elder in the church (1 Peter 5:1). This is the same man who would respond to Jesus’ question about His own identity by declaring “thou art the Christ” in Matthew 16:16. The Roman Catholic denomination acclaims Peter as their original pope, while also upholding the notion that popes and the priests who serve them may not marry: Yet Peter not only had a mother-in-law, he also was an elder; we must therefore conclude that Simon Peter not only had a wife, but also children who became Christians (cf. 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6). This is why Catholicism’s claim that he was the first pope of Rome is incompatible with both their own doctrine and with the facts revealed in the scriptures.
Jesus gave a succinct explanation of the purpose of miracles when He said in In Mark 2:10 that the miracle He was about to perform was “…that you may know…” His authority to forgive sins. Note that the actual sign (the healing, vs. 12) both confirmed the Lord’s identity (see vs, 7) and His authority (vv. 10-11). Neither He nor His disciples ever performed miracles or signs simply for the benefit of those who experienced them; they were always done in conjunction with gospel teaching, and always served to verify or validate the message that was presented.
Ignorance and misunderstanding about the Lord’s declaration concerning blasphemy against the Holy Spirit in Mark 3:29 has caused much fear and uncertainty among the tenderhearted, but a careful look at the context of His statement should dispel such fears. The scribes accused Jesus of being demon-possessed, asserting that Satan was the source of His miraculous power, verse 22. Jesus pointed out the illogic of their accusation in verses 23-27, declaring that “…a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” In verses 28-29, Jesus then extended to them the prospect of forgiveness for even this false accusation (i.e., their blasphemy), but noted that if they continued to resist God by rejecting the Holy Spirit’s appeal (the gospel), they would have no further hope –no appeal in the judgement day. To blaspheme against the Holy Spirit is to do to Him what these scribes were doing to Jesus; that is, to reject His message and His authority.
The record of the death of John the baptizer in Mark 6:14-29 adds considerable information to that found in Matthew 14, and shows that a wedding ceremony does not nullify a previous marriage. Herod Antipas (grandson of Herod the Great) had divorced his wife in order to marry his half-brother Philip’s wife, Herodias, who had seduced him. John had warned the king that this arrangement was not lawful, which caused Herodias to desire his execution (verse 19). The fact that Herod had actually married her did not legitimize their relationship. In our era of easy divorce and remarriage, it will be wise for us to remember that God has set the boundaries of who may marry and who may not, because it is He Who “joins” a husband and wife in marriage (Matthew 19:6). His boundaries do not change simply because humanity chooses to allow what He does not.