1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
(Mark 1:1-8 NIV)
As we begin our journey through the Gospel of Mark, we see Mark opening his narrative with every word and phrase carefully chosen and focused entirely on the Lord. Mark does not waste time or paper introducing himself. Mark immediately introduces the focal point of his writings – Jesus. This is not a letter like Paul would later write, but a story, a chronicle about the Messiah.
In verse 1, Mark carefully chooses words and phrases to introduce his subject:
- “The beginning” – a reminder of Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning”) – something new
- “Good news” – the Roman word “gospel” – a pagan term, but also a cause for celebration, as something fantastic has happened
- “Jesus the Messiah” – the person and His title
- “the Son of God” – unquestioningly linking Jesus to Diety as the Son of God In the Roman world where emperors were considered deities, this was radical.
Starting in verse 2, Mark jumps from the subject of his story to none other than John the Baptizer, the promised announcer of the Messiah’s arrival. Verse 2 is a quote from Malachi 3:1, where Malachi prophesies that one will come to announce the Lord’s arrival on earth. Some four hundred years after Malachi’s prophecy, Mark recalls the prophecy coming true in their time.
In verse 3, Mark then quotes Isaiah 40:3, again substantiating John the Baptizer’s role and influence. Each of the four gospels includes details about John the Baptizer and his ministry.
In verses 4 through 8, Mark does not spend any time telling about Jesus’ and John’s relationship (they were second cousins). Mark jumps into the heart of John the Baptist’s ministry of calling people to repentance and baptizing them.
We see John’s humility, a rough man wearing camel hair clothes and eating bugs and wild honey, living off the land. John does not equate himself with God; in fact, he says he is not even worthy to untie Messiah’s sandals (v. 7). John reminds his listeners that he baptizes with water, but the Messiah will offer a far greater baptism – with the Holy Spirit.
In Mark’s introduction, we see Mark bursting with excitement. He can’t wait to tell us about the coming of Jesus the Messiah! All their life they had heard Messiah was coming – the ancients had written about it, their fathers and grandfathers had claimed the promises from the Almighty as a future event. God had been silent for over four hundred years, and now the prophecy was coming true – the promised herald of the Messiah was here – and Messiah was walking among them!
How do we see these events that Mark describes? Is this just an ancient story about some old dead guys, or is this our reality as well? This is not just a story, but THE STORY, the Gospel – the Good News – Messiah has come!