Jesus’ Earthly Ministry


What was the purpose of Christ’s earthly ministry? Learn about His earthly ministry from a study of Mark 1:21–34.

Mark 1:21-34


Imagine yourself for a moment as one of the angels who longed to look at Jesus during His earthly ministry. Perhaps you were one of the heavenly chorus who announced His otherwise lowly birth. In subsequent years, perhaps you peered over heaven’s gates to watch Him grow to manhood in the obscure setting of Nazareth. Then finally the day arrives for Jesus to begin His messianic ministry. He is baptized by John in the Jordan, and the Spirit descends like a dove. The Father’s voice thunders past you to the earth below: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). Though human eyewitnesses may have failed to grasp the significance of these signs, inhabitants of the spiritual world would appreciate the marks of heavenly blessing.

The spiritual world would also know what was at stake in Jesus’ confrontation with Satan in the wilderness. Indeed, spiritual beings were the only witnesses to that encounter and Jesus’ decisive victory. After events of such high drama, I can imagine myself, as an angel, wondering, “What will come next for the Lord of glory as He dwells on earth? Will He display the majesty that has always surrounded Him in heaven? How will He accomplish the purpose for which He came to earth?”

The events recorded in Mark 1:21–34 are not the sort of things I would have imagined, as an angel or as a man. The verses describe one day—a Sabbath day—in the life of our Lord. There are four main incidents in the day, and certainly Jesus’ supernatural power and authority are evident. But His heavenly glory and majesty are veiled. We see Jesus as a servant in constant, tireless ministry to endless need. We see Him preaching, casting out demons, healing an individual, and ministering to the crowd late into the evening. An angel would have shaken his head in wonder. Mark, I’m sure, rejoiced to see the kind of servant Jesus was.


  • What are the “heavenly blessings” that Dr. Barnhouse is referring to?
  • What was the purpose of Christ’s earthly ministry? Why is this so important?
  • Explain the idea of the suffering servant.


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