MAIN TEXT: MARK 1:1-8
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Having just finished some major components of the grand story of Scripture, we now move to the gospel of Mark. Mark tells us about Jesus – the hero of the Bible and our faith. The Bible is all about Jesus. The Gospel according to Mark is one of four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ while here on earth. Here is a synopsis of the four Gospels:
Matthew: written to Jews telling them that Jesus is the Messiah King who fulfills Old Testament prophecy.
Mark: written to Romans telling them that Jesus is the suffering Servant that gave His life as a ransom for many.
Luke: written to Greeks telling them that Jesus is the perfect Son of Man who came to save and minister to all people.
John: written to the world telling them that Jesus was fully human and is fully God and we must believe in Him to receive eternal life.
Mark is the shortest of all the Gospels. It moves fast. It does not include the genealogy of Jesus, His birth, the Sermon on the Mount, or many parables. This Gospel account does not focus much on what Jesus said, but rather what Jesus did and who He was. Mark 8:27-30 is a key point of the Gospel. “Who do you say that I am?” This is what Mark was getting at and the point that he wanted the Romans to answer.
TWO KEY FOUNDATIONAL QUESTIONS
What does Gospel mean? The word Gospel means, “good news”. The word was used prior to Jesus and it was used after victory in battle. People would tell a “gospel” – a good news account of a true story – about how the victory in battle was won.
Regarding the Gospel accounts of Jesus, we need to know that they:
- are historical.
- will vary because of the author’s perspective and audience.
- summarize the person and work of Jesus Christ.
- are more concerned about Christ’s death than His life.
Who was Mark? Mark (AKA John Mark) was not a disciple of Jesus. He is not giving a first-hand account, although he may have watched Christ and His disciples from a distance. His mother was Mary who owned a home that was a hangout for the disciples. The last supper may have taken place in Mary’s home where Mark grew up. Her home is recorded in Acts 12 – the believers were there praying for Peter’s release and Peter shows up at the door. The servant girl is so excited that she doesn’t let him in and the believers tell her that she is out of her mind.
Mark was a cousin of Barnabas – the great encourager and the missionary partner of Paul. On Paul’s first missionary journey Mark bailed and left half way through. Paul considered him a quitter. When the second journey came around, Barnabas wanted to take Mark again and Paul said no. Paul and Barnabas had a “sharp disagreement” (Acts 15) and parted ways. Later they reconciled and Paul even said that Mark was “useful” to him. The ten years of time between Paul calling Mark a quitter and then later useful, Mark was discipled by Peter. What Mark writes in his Gospel is Peter’s account, which he heard over a 10-year period. He has been mentored and discipled by Peter, Barnabas, and Paul. Mark was a useful helper.
WE CAN TRUST GOD TO KEEP HIS PROMISE
God had promised, from the fall recorded in Genesis 3 and throughout the Old Testament, that he would send a Savior, a Deliverer, a Messiah. Mark is saying that He has appeared – and it is Jesus Christ. As well, the one who was foretold to prepare the way – John the baptizer.
God kept His Word to send the Messiah (Mark 1:1). “Beginning” and “Gospel – (Good News)” indicate that something new and exciting has occurred. Mark wastes no time saying exactly who Jesus is – “the Son of God”. This is Mark’s favorite title and reveals to us Jesus’ unique and unparalleled relationship with God. Jesus’ disciples failed to recognized Him as the Son of God until after the resurrection. Demons knew it (Mark 3:11; 5:7) and the Roman soldier recognized Jesus as “the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).
WE CAN TRUST GOD TO SEND HIS PREACHERS
Verses 4-8 establish that John the Baptizer was a fulfillment in biblical prophecy signaling a new day in redemptive history. God is redeeming His people from sin and death through the cross of Christ. John the Baptist was a strange evangelist – but is a life worth emulating. He was faithful in proclaiming an urgent message of repentance and his humility was evident (verse 7). John knew who Jesus was in God’s plan. He also knew who he was in God’s plan. John knew that he must decrease so that (Jesus) could increase (John 3:30). John would be imprisoned and beheaded by age 35. The world scoffed at him and yet heaven smiled.
John lived a life that was set apart from the world. His character was a statement against the norm. He took on Elijah’s approach. He was declaring that there was another way. He was fearless. He warned of coming judgment. He lived differently to portray to others that there was a different way. Many believed because of John. Jesus said that there was no one like John the Baptist (Luke 7:28).
Like John, we need to be faithful and humble preachers of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Mark introduces us to Jesus, the central character in all that follows. Who do you say that Jesus is?
WHO DO YOU SAY THAT JESUS IS
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Mark 1:1-8
What is the advantage of having four Gospels, all telling essentially the same story?
What role does John the Baptist play in this portion of redemptive history?
Why do you think John gained a large following? What was his message?
Describe the reasons why we need a Savior.