“And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove” (Mark 1:10, NKJV, bold emphasis mine).
As I was studying the book of Mark today, I saw something I had never noticed before. In the American Standard Version, the word “straightway” occurs no less than eleven times in the first chapter alone.
The New King James Version usually renders this word “immediately,” and occasionally, “as soon as” or “at once.” However, looking at the original language, the Greek term, euthus, is the same in all eleven cases. Since the chapter has forty-five verses in it, this averages out to Holy Spirit incorporating the concept of “immediately” into every fourth verse or so. That’s a whole lot of instantaneous action!
For our rumination purposes, here are all the instances where it appears (NKJV, except v. 23; bold emphasis mine):
- “…Immediately… He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending…” (v. 10).
- “Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness” (v. 12).
- “They immediately left their nets and followed Him” (v. 18).
- “And immediately He called them, and they left their father Zebedee…” (v. 20).
- “…Immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught” (v. 21).
- “And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit…” (v. 23, ESV).
- “And immediately His fame spread…” (v. 28).
- “Now as soon as they had come out of the synagogue…” (v. 29).
- “…They told Him about her at once” (v. 30).
- “As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him…” (v. 42).
- “And He strictly warned him and sent him away at once” (v. 43).
What are we to conclude, from observing that “immediately” is so interwoven into the fabric of this chapter? What is Daddy God getting at?
I believe He is emphasizing to us how dynamic and constantly active the work of His Spirit is. The first “immediately” we find accompanies the description of Holy Spirit descending on Jesus. From that moment onward, the action is nonstop. No wonder Jesus insisted, “My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too” (John 5:17, NCV).
You and I can rest in this. Knowing that our Almighty God is even right now at work on our behalf is wonderfully reassuring. This is especially true since so frequently, we can’t actually see what He is doing in answer to our prayers. More often than not, He is carrying out His vibrant, vigorous work primarily in heavenly, invisible places. I am convinced He put eleven repetitions of “immediately” in Mark chapter one to remind us of just how powerfully real His silent, hidden activity is. It’s like He is offering us a peek behind the veil.
Here’s what’s going on behind that veil. As soon as you lift up your request to Him, immediately He activates the spiritual movement that will become your visible answer at just the right time. We learn from the book of Daniel that many times, a ferocious battle has to be fought in the unseen realm before we see His intervention show up in our physical world. Be that as it may, He really does send out His word immediately in response to us.
“Then he said to me, ‘Don’t be afraid, Daniel, for from the very first day you applied your mind… to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard. I have come in response to your words. However, the prince of the kingdom of Persia was opposing me for twenty-one days'” (Dan. 10:12-13 NET, bold emphasis mine).
To Daniel, it most likely felt like the heavens were closed and nothing at all was happening in response to his entreaties. In reality, the complete opposite was the case; God’s top angels were warring fiercely to get His answer to him!
As we mature in the Lord, we gradually absorb the truth found in this story. Little by little, we come to more accurately interpret the window of time between the outset of our prayers, and the solution to our problems. As we grow, we learn that He is, right now, working for us. We internalize that His work, though often imperceptible, is nonetheless relentless, exceedingly mighty, and always successful. So we refuse to give up, partnering with Him in prayer — perceiving with the eyes of our heart that He “never stops working,” and that His answer is on the way.
Are you struggling right now with feeling like nothing is happening in response to your petitions, no matter how earnestly you have beseeched Heaven? I encourage you to spend some time meditating on the nonstop “immediate” action we find in Mark 1. Allow Holy Spirit to impart more deeply into your spirit the revelation that He is both instantly, and unceasingly, at work on your behalf.
He has heard your prayers! He will never, ever let you down!
Is the Holy Spirit showing you anything else about His eleven uses of “immediately” in this chapter? I’d love to hear your insights!