Notes on Mark 1, verses 12-15:

by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)

12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.

Mark simply indicates Jesus was driven (a very strong word in the original, as I understand) into the wilderness by the (Holy) Spirit, This and the next verse summarize the 40 days of testing and temptations that He endured during that time.

“Wilderness” in this context didn’t necessarily have the same meaning as a “wilderness” in North America, namely unexplored land or land that had not been cultivated. A wilderness in Israel most likely referred to land that had few if any people living there, and not much in the way of provisions. John himself had lived in “the wilderness”, for example. See Mark’s description of him earlier in this chapter (verse 4) and Luke 1:80, stating John lived “in the deserts” before he appeared on the scene (paraphrased).

13 And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.

This verse again summarizes the 40 days of temptations and testing our Lord endured while He was in the wilderness.

Mark adds a unique detail, “He was with the wild beasts” which neither Matthew nor Luke include in their accounts (Matthew 4 and Luke 4). One day there will be no more wild beasts (Isaiah 11:6-9). Note another contrast: when Noah and his family left the Ark, God told them there would be problems between humans and animals. Now the very One Who created these animals was briefly living among them.

And, Mark confirms Matthew 4:11, stating angels ministered unto Jesus after the Devil (briefly) left Him.

14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,

Herod Antipas was the one who had John arrested and thrown into prison because John had told him he was wrong to marry his sister-in-law. She had been married to Herod’s brother Philip. Josephus and several other commentaries give additional information about this literal affair. See Matthew 11:2-6 and 14:1-12 plus Luke 3:18-20 for more Scripture about this.

Mark now shifts to a different scene, describing the Lord’s first ministry in Galilee (northern Israel). Note how Jesus continues John’s message, preaching about the Kingdom of God. More of the text or what Jesus actually spoke is contained in the verse below. The other three Gospels all include material about this first Galilean ministry (Matthew 4, Luke 4, John 1-2).

15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Note the four points to the Lord’s first recorded message or sermon: 1, The time is fulfilled (and it was, as the Messiah Himself had come to this earth in fulfillment of prophecies); 2, The kingdom of God (Matthew also says “the kingdom of Heaven”) is at hand (or closer than anyone could perceive); 3, REPENT, and 4, believe the Gospel. What had the listeners believed or believed in before this time?

Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).

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