You might not know that one of the key words in the gospel of Mark is “immediately.” This seemingly unassuming adverb occurs no less than 43 times in the entire book. Adverbs play an immensely important part in the English language, and that importance can be carried into our Bible study. Where verbs tell us what was, is, or should be done, adverbs tell us HOW. Let’s take a look at Mark to see how this word applies in the text.
Jesus healed immediately. Jesus’ miracles are a huge focus of the book of Mark (particularly in the first half of the book). In the entire sixteen chapters, there are fifteen miracles, and eight of these miracles use the word “immediately” to describe the expediency with which Jesus’ healing occurred. For example, in Mark 2, Jesus heals the paralytic who was lowered through the roof in Capernaum. As soon as Jesus told the man to “pick up [his] pallet and go home”, the man “got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone” (2:11-12). Jesus didn’t say, “Alright, that should do it, you’ll be better in a few days.” It was immediate. This more than anything proves Jesus’ power and might. Not only did He fix seemingly unfixable problems, but He did so instantaneously.
Satan goes to work immediately. If you have a minute, go and read through Mark 4. In this section Jesus tells the parable of the sower, or perhaps more accurately, the parable of the soils. If you were raised in the church, you’ve probably read this a million times before and heard a hundred sermons on it, so I’ll be quick in summarizing. Basically, Jesus is talking about the different ways people can react to God’s word. Take a look at vs. 15, where Jesus starts to explain the meaning of the parable: “These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.” Satan’s not interested in waiting around until he thinks you can put up a decent fight; as soon as you hear the word, he’s after you. Once you hear the word, there’s a chance he’s going to lose you to God. Sometimes we lose sight of the fact that Satan wants our souls just as much as God does. So how do we defend ourselves against him? First, we are to be aware of his pursuit (1 Peter 5:8), and being aware, to resist him (1 Peter 5:9, James 4:7). Being the right kind of soil isn’t just “luck of the draw”; it’s a choice. Satan worked just as hard on the good soil as he did on the bad, but the good soil held on to be fruitful.
Jesus wants our response immediately. At the very beginning of the book, in Chapter 1, Jesus calls his first apostles, Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. At this point Jesus has performed no miracles; He has just come into Galilee “preaching the gospel of God” (1:14). Simon and Andrew had no visual proof of Jesus’ power yet, and had to leave their livelihood to follow them, but out of what must have been incredible faith and desire to follow God, “immediately they left their nets and followed Him” (1:18). Like Simon and Andrew, we have never seen Jesus perform miracles with our own eyes. However, if we’re going to wait until He returns to see proof, we’ll have waited far too long! And if we DO believe in Jesus and his power, that belief should trigger immediate action. Jesus doesn’t want us to follow Him “when we get a minute” or “on our own time”; He wants us to follow and obey Him NOW. Immediately. Let’s shift gears for a second and take a look at Acts 16 and the account of the Philippian jailor. (If you want to read verses 22 through 34, that’d be great.) Once you’ve done that, jump down to verse 33 again: “And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, him and all his household.” The Philippian jailor wasn’t waiting around. He wasn’t going to put it off until it was convenient for him. He wasn’t going to take the time to weigh out his options. He was baptized. He was saved. He was added to the Lord’s church. He was made right with God. Immediately.