Life-Study of Mark, Chapter 2

Despised by Man, Abhorred by the Nation,
and the Slave of Rulers

Isaiah 49:7 says, “Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers.” According to this verse, the Lord Jesus was despised by man, He was abhorred by the nation, and He was the Slave of rulers. In Hebrew the phrase “a servant of rulers” means one held in thrall by tyrants. The Lord was a Slave kept in thrall, in slavery, by tyrants.

Giving His Back to the Smiters
and His Cheeks to the Persecutors

Isaiah 50:6 says of the Lord, “I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” This is a very descriptive word telling us how the Lord behaved Himself as a Slave. He turned His back toward those who wanted to smite Him, He gave His cheeks to the persecutors, and He did not hide His face from shame.

Not Crying Nor Lifting Up His Voice

Isaiah 42:2 indicates that the Lord did not cry or lift up His voice: “He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street.” This means that the Lord did not shout or make noise. Instead of crying out to make His voice known in the streets, He was calm and quiet.

Not Breaking a Bruised Reed
and Not Quenching a Dimly Burning Flax

Isaiah 42:3 and 4 say, “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.” According to these verses, the Lord would not break a bruised reed or quench a dimly burning flax. The Jews often made flutes of reeds. When a reed was bruised and no longer useful as a musical instrument, they broke it. They also made torches with flax to burn with oil. The oil ran out, the flax smoked, and they quenched it. Some of the Lord’s people are like a bruised reed that cannot give a musical sound; others are like smoking flax that cannot give a shining light. Yet the Lord would not “break” the bruised ones who cannot give a musical sound or quench the ones like dimly burning flax that cannot give a shining light. On the one hand, the Lord would not break a bruised reed or quench a dimly burning flax. On the other hand, according to these verses, He would not faint as a dimly burning flax, nor would He be crushed as a bruised reed.

Given the Tongue of the Instructed

From Isaiah 50:4 we see that as the Slave of God the Lord was given the tongue of the instructed: “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Although as a Slave, the Lord was not a teaching one, He was nonetheless given the tongue of the instructed. He was instructed by God to know how to sustain a weary one with a word. Because He had been instructed by God, He could sustain a weary one by giving him a single word. Such a word is able to minister life more than a long message.

Trusting in God and Setting His Face like a Flint

Isaiah 50:7 says, “For the Lord God will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.” Here we see that the Lord trusted in God and set His face like a flint. As the Lord Jesus was walking in God’s way to fulfill God’s will, His face was like a hard stone. In the matter of fulfilling God’s will He was very strong.

Having Borne Our Griefs and Carried Our Sorrows

In Isaiah 53:4 and 5 we have this word concerning the Lord Jesus: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” What is described in these verses is related to the Lord’s death on the cross. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions and was bruised for our iniquities. The chastisement of our peace, that is, the chastisement for our peace, was upon Him, and with His stripes we are healed.

Oppressed and Afflicted

According to Isaiah 53:7, the Lord did not open His mouth when He was oppressed and afflicted: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” This means that when the Lord was brought to the cross, he was like a sheep dumb before the shearers. When He was oppressed and afflicted, He did not say a word.

God Laying on Him the Iniquity of Us All

Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Then verse 10 goes on to say, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.” From these verses we see that God laid on Him the iniquity of us all, bruised Him, put Him to grief, and made His soul a trespass offering.

Pouring Out His Soul unto Death

Isaiah 53:12 says, “Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” The Lord poured out His soul as He was dying on the cross. He was crucified in the midst of two thieves and thereby was numbered with the transgressors. The fact that He bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors was fulfilled by the Lord’s prayer on the cross, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34a).

Cut Off out of the Land of the Living

According to Isaiah 53:8, the Lord Jesus “was cut off out of the land of the living.” For the Lord to be cut off from the land of the living means that He was put to death.

Resurrected to See the Fruit of His Travail

Isaiah 53:11 reveals that the Lord was resurrected to see the fruit of His travail: “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” It is in resurrection that the Lord sees the fruit of His travail. Now after His resurrection He, as the righteous Servant of God, justifies the many, whose iniquities He has borne.

Exalted and Lifted Up Very High

Isaiah 52:13 speaks of the Lord’s exaltation: “Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” After His resurrection, the Lord was exalted and lifted up very high.

For a Covenant of the People
and a Light of the Gentiles

Isaiah 42:6 says, “I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and will give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles.” After His ascension, the Lord became a covenant of the Jewish people and a light of the Gentiles. This means that in ascension the Lord Jesus Himself became the new covenant, the new testament, to God’s people. He also became a light to the Gentiles, to the heathen, through the preaching of the gospel carried out by His disciples.

The Salvation of God unto the End of the Earth

In Isaiah 49:6 we see that the Lord is the salvation of God unto the end of the earth: “And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” Christ in His ascension is now the salvation of God to the uttermost part of the earth. This prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus was spoken by Isaiah seven hundred years before the birth of the Lord Jesus.

In the book of Isaiah we have a detailed prophecy concerning the Lord Jesus as the Slave of God. Not even in the New Testament can we find such a record. By considering the prophecies in Isaiah concerning Christ as God’s Slave, we can understand more fully what is recorded in the Gospel of Mark concerning Him as a Slave.

Paul’s Word concerning Christ as a Slave

In Philippians 2:5-11 we have the word of the Apostle Paul concerning Christ as the Slave of God.

Subsisting in the Form of God

In Philippians 2:5 and 6 Paul says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who subsisting in the form of God did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” Here we see that the Lord not only existed with God, but subsisted in the form of God. The Greek word rendered “subsisting” denotes existing from the beginning. This implies the Lord’s eternal preexistence. To say that Christ existed in the form of God means that He subsisted in the expression of God’s being (Heb. 1:3), that He was identified with the essence and nature of God’s Person. This refers to Christ’s deity.

According to Philippians 2:6, although Christ subsisted in the form of God, He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped. He was equal with God, but He did not consider this equality a treasure to be grasped and retained. Rather, He was willing to come to earth as a man.

Emptying Himself, Taking the Form of a Slave

In Philippians 2:7 Paul goes on to say, “But emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming in the likeness of men.” The Lord emptied Himself of His position and glory and of other matters related to His Godhead. Of course, He did not empty Himself of His deity. Having emptied Himself, the Lord came as a man, taking the form of a slave and becoming in the likeness of men.

In Philippians 2:7 we have two important words: form and likeness. In His incarnation the Lord did not alter His divine nature, but altered only His outward expression of the form of God to that of a slave. This was not a change of essence but of state. The form of God implies the inward reality of Christ’s deity; the likeness of men denotes the outward appearance of His humanity. He appeared outwardly to men as a man, but inwardly He had the reality of deity. He took the form of a slave and became a man in the likeness of men.

In Luke 2 we can see the Lord as a man. When He came to Jerusalem with His parents, He was a human being, a child. There we do not see the Lord as a Slave. It is when the Lord Jesus came out to minister that we see Him as a Slave. As the Lord ministered, He was a Slave. For example, when He washed the feet of His disciples, He was in the form of a Slave (John 13:4-5). First, the Lord became a man in man’s likeness. Then He behaved as a Slave in the form of a Slave.

If a brother stands up to speak in a church meeting, he will certainly have the form of a man. However, if the same brother would put on work clothes and begin to vacuum the carpet, we may say that he has the form of a janitor. First, he is a man, and then he has the form of a janitor. This simple illustration may help us understand how the Lord became a man and then eventually ministered in the form of a Slave.

When the disciples were arguing about who would be the greatest among them, the Lord told them that He came forth to serve as a Slave: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Here the Lord seems to be saying, “Look at Me. I have come to serve as a Slave, even at the cost of My life. I am ready to give My life as a ransom.” By this we see that in His ministry the Lord served in the form of a Slave.

Humbling Himself, Becoming Obedient unto Death

In Philippians 2:8 Paul says, “And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and that the death of a cross.” The Lord’s humbling Himself was a further step in His emptying Himself. Christ’s self-humbling manifests His self-emptying. The Lord became obedient even unto death, the death of a cross. The Lord’s death on the cross was the climax of His humiliation. To the Jews the death of a cross was a curse (Deut. 21:22-23), and to the Gentiles it was a death sentence imposed upon malefactors and slaves (Matt. 27:16-17, 20-23). Hence, it was a shameful thing (Heb. 12:2).

Highly Exalted and Given the Name
Which Is above Every Name

In Philippians 2:9 Paul says, “Wherefore also God highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name.” The Lord humbled Himself to the uttermost, but God exalted Him to the highest peak. From the time of the Lord’s ascension, there has not been a name on earth higher than the name of Jesus. Paul’s word in Philippians 2:9 concerning the Lord’s exaltation is similar to that prophesied in Isaiah 52:13.

With No Record of His Genealogy or His Status

In the Gospel of Mark there is no record of the Lord’s genealogy or His status. Because Mark presents the Savior as a Slave, he does not tell His genealogy or status, since the ancestry of a slave is not worthy of note.

With a Record Mainly of His Excellent Deeds

The record concerning Christ as the Slave of God in the Gospel of Mark is not mainly a record of His wonderful words. Instead, it is a record of the Lord’s excellent deeds. These deeds displayed both His lovely humanity in its virtue and perfection and His deity in its glory and honor. We need to be impressed with the fact that in the Gospel of Mark we see a Slave with a lovely humanity in its virtue and perfection and with deity in its glory and honor.

THE SLAVE-SAVIOR OF SINNERS

The Gospel of Mark presents the Lord Jesus as a Slave of God and as the Slave-Savior of sinners. As the Slave-Savior, the Lord served sinners and gave His life as a ransom for them (10:45). By giving His life as a ransom for sinners, the Lord as the Slave-Savior accomplished the eternal purpose of God, whom He served as a Slave.

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