from WL Worcester (H Blackmer, ed.), 
The Sower.  Helps to the Study of the Bible in Home and Sunday School
(Boston: Massachusetts New-Church Union, n.d.)

Table of Contents


Lesson 2

Mark 1:14-45:  Disciples: Miracles of Healing

The Story


Where had the Lord lived till now? Nazareth was in Galilee, the northern of the three sections into which the land of Canaan was divided in Gospel days. The middle division was Samaria, the southern Judea. The pictures you see of Galilee show you a country with few towns and people. But in the Lord's time it was a very busy place, with many cities and large towns. There were wonderful gardens in the plain of Gennesaret, and the fine fish in the Sea of Galilee, and caravans going between Damascus and the Mediterranean Sea passed right through this part of the land. It was a beautiful place, with the snow-covered mountains at the north, its lovely, almost tropical gardens and beautiful blue lake; for the Sea of Galilee is really only a large lake on which were many fishing-boats. It was in the city of Capernaum that the Lord chose to live now that His preaching and teaching had begun, and Capernaum was a town near the northern end of the Sea of Galilee. One day as He was walking by the sea He saw one of the fishing-boats with two fishermen in it. They were brothers, Simon and Andrew, and they were casting their net in the sea. He spoke to them, and bade them follow Him, and He would make them fishers of men; and they left their nets and followed Him. They went on a little farther, and they saw another boat with more people in it, a father whose name was Zebedee and his two sons James and John and some hired men, and they were putting their nets in order. Jesus called James and John and they left their father and followed Him.

The Sabbath came and they went into the church or synagogue, and the Lord taught the people: and they were greatly astonished, for He taught them as if He knew from Himself that what He said was true and did not depend upon what others had said. There were people in those days who had unclean spirits. That is, evil spirits had power over them to make them do and say anything they chose, and the poor people could not help themselves. There was such a man in the synagogue on this Sabbath day, and the evil spirit knew who the Lord was and cried out, "What have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him." (Mark 1:24, 25) And the spirit obeyed.

Then they left the synagogue and went into the house of Simon and Andrew. (Where have we heard of these men?) Now Simon's wife's mother was very sick, and they told the Lord, and He went into the room and took her by the hand and raised her up, and she was well, and she went about the house and served them. Such wonderful things were soon heard of by people all about. So when the sun had set (for as it was the Sabbath they could do nothing until the day was done), in the twilight all the people of the city came eagerly bringing their dear sick children and friends to the door of Simon's house to be healed, and the Lord cured them all and cast out many evil spirits. A wonderful evening in that little city. Let us read about the calling of the fishermen from their nets and about the Sabbath in Capernaum. (Mark 1:16-34)

The Lord went now to other places throughout all Galilee. We are told only a few things that happened on this journey. Once a leper came to Him asking to be healed. The lepers were people who had a most terrible sickness, and almost too sad to tell about. Their skin became dead, all white and sore, and their joints so diseased that their fingers sometimes fell off. The lepers were kept away from other people. They were not allowed in the towns, and if they saw anyone coming they were obliged to call out, "Unclean, unclean," so no one would come near them. (Leviticus 13:45) So the courage and faith of this poor leper must have been great as he came in his desperate eagerness to be made well, and knelt before the Lord; but instead of turning away, as the leper must have feared He would, He "put forth his hand and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean." And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed. (Mark 1:41, 42) The Lord told him to tell no man what had been done to him, for the Lord wanted most of all to teach men to be good and to heal their souls, and did not want men to look to Him only to heal their bodies. But this poor leper told everyone how the Lord had healed him.


What is this river which runs down from the springs under Mount Hermon? And what is this sea? Take a good look at its shape. Now we will put the map away and draw it for ourselves. The Jordan runs down hill very fast - that is what its name means, "the descender" - and when it reaches the Sea of Galilee it is six hundred and fifty feet below the Mediterranean. It is a beautiful lake of blue water. It is about twelve miles long and half as wide; so that you plainly see the hills across the water, and at night you can see the lights twinkling on the opposite shore. The hills rise steeply all about, except at the northwest corner of the sea. Here they stand back about a mile, leaving a crescent-shaped meadow between them and the water. This is the plain of Gennesaret. The soil is rich and though today the plain is neglected and grown up with giant thistles, in the old time it was all a garden. It was warm in the shelter of the hills and was watered by fine springs.

From Capernaum at the northern end of the plain we skirt along the shore to Magdala; then southward to Tiberias, in the Gospel time a fine city just being built by Herod. The shore is almost deserted, but in the old time many little towns of white houses nestled among their orchards. Farmers were busy in the fields; traders passed upon the beaten paths; fishing boats were drawn up along the shore or dotted the blue water with their sails. Sometimes they fished in deep water, and sometimes they threw nets or hooks from the shore.

The Lord had come to the Sea of Galilee, to Capernaum to make His home. He walked along this very shore; on the one hand the gardens and grain fields stretching back to the rough pasture hills, on the other hand the pebbly beach, the lapping waves, and the water stretching off to the purple eastern shore. He saw two fishermen casting their nets, and two others in a boat with their father mending their nets. Read Mark 1:16-20. Why were these men so ready to leave their nets and follow the Lord? They knew the voice that called them. They had seen the Lord at the Jordan, and heard John the Baptist say, "Behold the Lamb of God." They were now to be fishers of men. Instead of drawing fish out of the cold water into the sunshine, they would lift men up from their thoughts of food and drink and worldly greatness, into heavenly uses and happiness.

Read what I have said to the little children about the Lord's miracles of healing in the synagogue, and at Peter's house, and by the way as the Lord journeyed through the towns of Galilee.

1. What disciples of the Lord were fishermen? On what water had they sailed and fished?

2. What sign of the Lord's power was seen in the synagogue? in Peter's house? at the door?

3. What sickness did the Lord heal, laying His hand on the poor man and saying, "I will; be thou clean"?

Spiritual Study


How was the work of the Lord's disciples still that of fishermen?

The sea is like a little world in itself, but with the heavy, cold water for atmosphere. It is like a mind which cares only for natural knowledge and worldly things, and finds no delight and happiness in what is spiritual. The fishes of the sea, which enjoy that dull atmosphere, are like our affections for gathering natural knowledge, of science, of worldly things, of the letter of the Word. A natural fisherman catches fish to be food for men; a spiritual fisherman teaches natural truth of science or of the letter of the Word, with the purpose of strengthening the spiritual life. The disciples should become such spiritual fishermen. They would be fishers of men, for it would be their duty and privilege to lift men up from the atmosphere of natural, worldly life into the air and sunshine of spiritual life. (A. 3309, 10582; E. 513, 600; R. 405)

What things had Moses commanded that a leper who was cleansed should bring to the priest? (Leviticus 14:1-32)

"Not as the scribes." The scribes, or writers, copied and read the Scriptures, and explained the letter with many quotations from the opinions of noted teachers. The Lord spoke from His own great love and from the experience of His own life. He spoke with authority.

We see what a terrible thing possession by evil spirits was. (Mark 5:1-13; 9:14-27) And see how helpless all the people were to cast them out, except the Lord. This shows us what power evil spirits had gained over men. If the Lord had not come, they would have destroyed the race. Why did the evil spirits cry out at His presence? How did they know Him? The Lord had met and overcome them in His own temptations. They knew His power, and that at His word they must go away from men. So the Lord set men free from slavery to evil spirits, to live well if they would. Such possession as there was when the Lord came into the world, does not exist today, and never will again, for the evil spirits which the Lord overcame He holds in restraint and keeps us free. (H. 257)

What still more grievous diseases do the disorders of the body picture? Do you remember a verse which shows that the Lord healed men's bodies as a sign of His desire and power to give spiritual strength? (Luke 5:24) Do we sometimes speak of being in a "fever," not meaning a state of body, but of mind? A feverish state of mind is one disturbed or prostrated by some disquiet feeling. In such a state we need the Lord's help to quiet our excitement and send us usefully about our work. (A. 8364)

Tell me of a leper whose healing is described in the Old Testament. The skin was chiefly affected in leprosy. This does not represent the deep motives of the heart, but the external words and acts which clothe the inner life, or religious forms and ceremonies which clothe spiritual worship. These should be a true, living expression of the spirit within. If they are dead, we are spiritual lepers. A state of mind in which forms of worship and religious life are angrily rejected and one is sensitive and angry at the mere mention of them, is represented by the more grievous forms of leprosy which broke out in open sores. What a terrible state this is! How unclean! We need the Lord's help to make our outward life and worship good and thoroughly alive. When it is so our flesh comes again as the flesh of a little child, and we are clean. (A. 6963; P. 231; E.475)

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