1:1 The beginning [Mark started with the account of John the Baptist (vv. 2-4) and with Jesus as an adult] of the gospel [good news: the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus] about Jesus [this name identifies Him as our Savior; see Matt. 1:21] Christ [this Greek term presents Him as the Messiah (Hebrew term) or the Anointed One, whom God commissioned to carry out a special task], the Son of God [points to the divine origin of Jesus and His unique relationship to God; also used in 1:11; 9:7; 14:61-62; 15:39].
1:2 It is written [prophesies pointing to John the Baptist’s task] in Isaiah [although Mark also quoted Malachi, the standard Jewish practice was to use the name of the more famous prophet, hence Isaiah] the prophet: “I will send My messenger [forerunner; an Elijah-like prophet (see Mark 9:11-13)] ahead of you, who will prepare [call people to make moral preparation for Jesus] your [Messiah] way” [see Mal. 3:1]—
1:3 “a voice [herald after 400 years of silence] of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare [by making moral changes] the way of the Lord, make straight paths for Him.’ [see Isa. 40:3; read Jesus’ comments about John the Baptist in Matt. 11:14]”
1:4 And so John [fulfilled verses 2-3] came baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism [identifies a person with a group or religious movement] of repentance [a change in the moral movement of one’s life; change of direction away from sin and toward God] for [or, with reference to, on the basis of, or as a result of] the forgiveness of sins.
1:5 The whole Judean countryside [around Jerusalem] and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized [immersed] by him in the Jordan River.
1:6 John wore [description of John the Baptist emphasizes that following Jesus involved separation from the world and denial of self] clothing [cf. Elijah’s clothing: 2 Kings 1:8] made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts [see Lev. 11:20-23] and wild honey.
1:7 And this was his message [passionately and urgently proclaimed]: “After me will come One more powerful than I [a contrast of position], the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy [see John 3:30; John understood his place in the kingdom of God] to stoop down and untie [the lowliest task; a contrast of worth].
1:8 I baptize you [those who have repented] with water, but He [a contrast in ministry] will baptize you with the [life-changing power of the] Holy Spirit [see 1 Cor. 12:13].”
1:9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth [His hometown] in Galilee and was baptized [picture of how He would fulfill His mission; “to fulfill all righteousness” as per Matt. 3:15, i.e., to submit to every ordinance God intended for His people] by John [cf. Matt. 3:13-15] in the Jordan.
1:10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water [cf. Matt. 3:16], He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove.
1:11 And a voice [God’s] came from heaven [cf. 3:17]: “You are My Son [refers to a unique relationship; see Ps. 2:7 and John 1:1], whom I love [see Mark 9:7]; with You I am well pleased [see Isa. 42:1].”
1:12 At once the Spirit sent Him out into the desert [for 40 days; see also Matt. 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13],
1:13 and He was in the desert forty days, being tempted [see Heb. 2:18; 4:15] by Satan [name means “adversary” — the agent of temptation]. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended Him [angels ministered to Jesus after He had defeated Satan’s advances (see Matt. 4:11); Jesus had unique access to the resources of God].
1:16 As Jesus walked beside [to pass by, to go along] the Sea of Galilee [also known as the Lake of Gennesaret (Lk. 5:1) and the Sea of Tiberias (Jn. 6:1; 21:1)], he saw Simon [married and lived in Capernaum (Mk. 1:29-30)] and his brother Andrew [a disciple of John the Baptist (Jn. 1:35-42); along with Simon, partner with James and John (cf. Lk. 5:10)] casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen [vocation].
1:17 “Come, follow me [command; formal call to discipleship; call to follow a Person not a philosophy],” Jesus said, “and [promise] I will make [Jesus cannot make us into anything unless we follow Him] you fishers of men.”
Note: Jesus cannot mold or make us into anything unless we follow Him.
1:18 At once [immediately; no excuses, no delay] they left [forsook; a radical and abrupt break] their nets [their livelihood] and followed [to follow as a disciple; term implies personal adherence and association] him [they had already believed in Him as per John 1:40-42].
1:19 When He had gone a little farther, He saw James [martyred by Herod I, the grandson of Herod the Great who had ordered the death of the Bethlehem children and nephew of Herod Antipas who had John the Baptist beheaded; see Acts 12:1-2] son of Zebedee and His brother John [see Luke 5:10 concerning the relationship between Simon, Andrew, James, and John] in a boat, preparing [mending] their nets.
1:20 Without delay [immediately and decisively] He called them, and they left their father [Simon and Andrew “left their nets” but James and John “left their father” — indicates they placed the highest priority on Jesus’ call] Zebedee [following Jesus sometimes involves severing family ties] in the boat with the hired men [who could help their father with the fishing business] and [promptly] followed Him [to learn of Him and from Him].