Notes on Mark 1, verses 32-34

by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)

Mark 1:32: And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils.

Several commentators have mentioned that there were two “evenings” in the Jewish day. The first took place about 3 pm, more or less the time of the “evening sacrifice” and perhaps the same time as the later “hour or prayer (or, “the ninth hour”; see Acts 3:1). The “second” evening was the time just before actual sunset. This was also the start of the Jewish day according to many Bible teachers.

From the context, the second evening (twilight, or perhaps dusk) seems to be the time of this event. Since the Sabbath was over, at twilight, people could travel more or less freely and they brought people to Jesus so He could heal them. Note the two groups seeking healing or deliverance: those who were diseased (Simon’s mother-in-law had been sick with a fever, but we’re not told how she had come down with the fever) and those who were demon possessed. Apparently word of the Lord’s power to heal had indeed spread far beyond the area near the synagogue and Simon and Andrew’s house.

33 And all the city was gathered together at the door.

This is probably a figure of speech (perhaps, hyperbole or synechdoche) exaggerating for effect. John used a similar figure of speech when he wrote that the whole world couldn’t contain all the works Jesus did (last verse of John’s gospel). Clearly there was a large crowd who had “gathered together at the door”. They wouldn’t try to get there, unless Jesus could heal a friend or relative of serious health-related problems.

34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

“Divers” is the old way of saying “diverse” or “various”. We’re not given any specifics as to which physical ailments our Lord healed of those who came to the door. Jesus healed many, but, oddly, Mark does not say Jesus healed “all”. What happened? Did some give up before they saw Jesus? We will never get the answer down here.

Also, Mark says Jesus cast out “many devils” or demons—but not all. Again, we don’t know why except Jesus may have hinted at this when He told a parable in Matthew 12:43-45. There He said that when an evil spirit is cast out, that spirit basically seeks another “home” and, once he finds one, he brings seven other demons to be “roommates” thus making the condition of the “host” seven times worse. Could it be that once these spirits were expelled (“cast out”) they promptly found other “hosts”” or homes?

Something else that could be missed is the power Jesus had, and still has, over demons. Mark says Jesus didn’t permit these demons to speak because “they knew Him”. So did the people—they had either heard or heard about the utterances coming out of a demon possessed man while the man was in the synagogue on the Sabbath day.

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

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