“…and a voice came out of the heavens: ‘You are my beloved Son, in you I am well-pleased.’”
When this Advent season closes, we will look on toward the angel’s proclamation to the shepherds: “On earth peace, good will towards men.” There is a kinship between the shepherd announcement and the baptism announcement – namely, God’s favor toward human beings. Writing later in his gospel, the apostle John announced, “For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son…” Jesus pleased God like no man before had ever pleased him, and God loves human beings like no one but God could ever love us. God’s favor spills over from Jesus to us. When we receive the Lord Jesus into our lives, we will know that favor the way Jesus knew it when he emerged from those baptismal waters.
Re:Verse passage – Mark 1:9-15 (day two) Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God vs. 14
One of the fascinating things I love about scripture is how the gospel writers approach the narrative of Jesus’ life and ministry. Their writing styles are different, and some chose specific events to illustrate while others left them out. To be sure, needless were none of the deeds of Jesus, but it is such a great tool to looking at his life through each of their eyes. Mark makes no apologies that this story is about the good news. He states it in verse one of chapter one, and again, as Jesus begins his earthly ministry, in verse 14. This does not mean that the details of Christ’s temptation are irrelevant, or that John’s arrest is insignificant, but they are not what Mark chose to focus his gospel upon.
The details of your life matter. The everyday journey you walk helps to shape the meta of you. What we should continually ask the Lord is how those details and decisions will impact the narrative of who is shaping us to become. What is the story he is trying to tell through you? Are there things getting in the way of that story? Is it time to let go?
I love Mark! Unlike the other synoptic gospels, he cuts right to the start of Jesus’ ministry. It’s not because the birth story isn’t important, but he is laying a foundation for his readers to know who and what this “good news” is about. He gives them a map. He shows them where the journey is taking them while also dropping deep theology that he will develop throughout the book. Mark is showing us that the gospel is simple:
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
God loves us so much that He became man (Incarnate) and dwelt with us (Immanuel). This is the Christmas story.
“As time has passed on, my theology has grown more and more simple. It is simply this, ‘Jesus loves me!’” – Charles Spurgeon
The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mark 1:1
The beginning…in the beginning.
Mark is the earliest of the Gospels written most likely to gentile believers in Rome. It came at the right time, as Christians were facing intense persecution under Emperor Nero. They needed to hear the inspired words of John Mark, protege of Peter the Apostle. They needed to hear good news. They needed to see Jesus.
Mark’s Gospel, like the others, is a proclamation. A declaration. The old has passed away, and the new has come. A new paradigm. A new beginning. A new kingdom. A new creation. Jesus, the Son of God.
Look, he is making all things new! That’s the message of Mark.
Re:Verse passage – Mark 1:1-8 (day five) “And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I”.
John the Baptist is countercultural. From Mark’s writing, it’s fairly easy to see and recognize.The clothes (camel hair).The diet (locusts). The setting for his ministry (wilderness). His message (repentance). There is one more countercultural aspect of John that caught my heart and mind.His perspective.Let me explain.
I have spent over 30 years in youth ministry. As I have taught and counseled teenagers, there have been themes that have consistently bubbled up.One of those was to press back against instant gratification. Think longer and deeper about mission, priorities, actions, and purpose. The phrase I used was to think, act, and plan “eternally”. As I watched them grow up and move into adulthood, I’ve come to believe is that instant gratification is not just a youth problem. It’s a human heart problem. Yet in Mark chapter one, we find a man in his 30’s who doesn’t seem to have this problem. “After me”.Faith, ministry, and the purposes of God are wiser, deeper, and longer than ME. This eternal perspective changes everything. The way we encourage and challenge others. The way we witness. The way we parent. The way we serve. The way we love.
We would all do well to think about eternal things with eternal timing in mind. John the Baptist did.
John the Baptist was an amazing man. Hundreds of years before he was born, the prophet Isaiah foretold his life and his mission. While he was still in the womb, he recognized the Savior. When he was born, he was obedient to his call and mission. When John preached repentance, all of Judea came out to hear him. He preached, he baptized, he prepared the way for the Lord and then had the privilege to introduce the long-awaited Messiah! In all, his public ministry was only about six months…but what an obituary! Jesus himself said there was no greater man born of woman.
We may not have such an exalted assignment, but have you considered what God has planned for your life? How has God designed your life to impact the world for Him? Certainly obedience, but what about compassion…what about bold witness…what about faithful praying? Will it be said of you, he or she was faithful to the end…they completed the race? It doesn’t take long to accomplish what God has in store for us. Who will be in heaven because you were faithful to your call and mission?
Re:Verse passage – Mark 1:1-8 (day two) John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. vs. 4
Mark goes out of his way to talk about John’s appearance, doesn’t he? My love for a nice camel hair coat aside, John’s presentation was probably a bit disheveled, even for the first century. That’s what makes the response to his message all the more compelling. He wasn’t attractive, but the freedom from the burden of sin was. We have such a backwards view of confession and repentance. People came in large numbers to hear John’s words. They received the message, and freed their hearts from the burden they had been carrying. This message is not just for new believers. All of us should be reminded of the power of repentance. Why not start again today?