Summary: 1) The Person (Mark 1:1), 2) Prophecy (Mark 1:2), 3) Practice (Mark 1:4), 4) People (Mark 1:5), 5) Poverty (Mark 1:6) & 6) The Prediction by the Herald (Mark 1:7, 8)

Whether officially or by action, people take leadership of differing faith communities. The late Mother Teresa became the leader of a group of nuns in Calcutta India. Her piety and devotion, gained her a world wide voice for her cause. The Dali Lama, is the spiritual leader of Buddhism. People the world over listen to him, Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike. What is ironic about the Dali Lama, is that he is quite rich yet proclaiming a message of poverty.

Though in many respects the four Gospels resemble each other, the message that each has starts from a different point of departure. Matthew begins his story with an account of the ancestry, conception, birth, and naming of Jesus; Luke (after a dedicatory introduction), with a narrative of the birth of John the Baptist; John, with the reminder that “the Word,” meaning Jesus Christ, already existed “in the beginning,” that is, from all eternity, and became incarnate. What is Mark’s starting-point, and why? Mark began his story with John the Baptist and did not even mention Jesus’ birth. His reason stemmed from his target audience—the Christians in Rome. Important Roman officials of this day were always preceded by an a herald. When the herald arrived in town, the people knew that someone of prominence would soon arrive and they would be called to assemble. Because Mark’s audience was comprised of primarily Roman Christians, he began his book with John the Baptist, whose mission was to announce the coming of Jesus (Barton, B. B. (1994). Mark. Life application Bible commentary (8). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.)

As I presently speak, God is preparing a heart. It may be someone here, in being receptive to the Gospel message, but it may also be someone elsewhere who is or will be ready for the Gospel. You are called to be that herald. There is someone God wants you to share the Gospel and yourselves (1 Thes. 2:8) and in doing so, you become that "Voice Crying in the Wilderness", who God will use to change a life.

With John the Baptist, the precursor to Christ, he was the "Voice Crying in the Wilderness". In Mark 1:1-8 we see his role and ours as: 1) The Person for the Herald (Mark 1:1), 2) The Prophecy of the Herald (Mark 1:2), 3) The Practice of the Herald (Mark 1:4), 4) The People for the Herald (Mark 1:5), 5) The Poverty of the Herald (Mark 1:6) and finally: 6) The Prediction by the Herald (Mark 1:7, 8)

1) The Person for the Herald (Mark 1:1)

Mark 1:1 [1:1]The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (ESV)

The word “beginning” serves to recall that it is God who initiates redemption on behalf of His elect. What Mark celebrates is not merely the prophetic activity of John the Baptist but the redemptive activity of God in planning, initiating, and accomplishing, assuring and sustaining salvation (Lane, W. L. (1974). The Gospel of Mark. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (42). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).

Mark begins with the communication about the Person: “Gospel”. “The gospel of Jesus Christ” well describes the entire work. Mark most likely did not intend it as a title of his book, however, because until about A.D. 150 the word “gospel” was used to refer to the Christian message, not to books that contained one aspect of that message (Brooks, J. A. (2001). Vol. 23: Mark (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (38). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).

The gospel of which Mark speaks is not a book but the story of salvation in Jesus. The word for “gospel” (Gk. euangelion) literally means “good news.” In both the OT and in Greek literature euangelion was commonly used of reports of victory from the battlefield. (1 Sam 31:9; see also 2 Sam 1:20; 18:19–20; 1 Chr 10:9). The messenger who brought the report was the deliverer of “good news” (2 Sam 4:10; 18:26). In the Greco-Roman world the word always appears in the plural, meaning one good tiding among others; but in the NT euangelion appears only in the singular: the good news of God in Jesus Christ, beside which there is no other (G. Stanton, Inaugural Lecture as Lady Margaret’s Professor of New Testament, Cambridge, England, 27 April 2000.).

Please turn to Isaiah 61

The concept of “good news” was not limited to military and political victories, however. In the prophet Isaiah “good news” is transferred to the inbreaking of God’s final saving act when peace, good news, and release from oppression will be showered on God’s people (Isa 52:7; 61:1–3). For Mark, the advent of Jesus is the beginning of the fulfillment of the “good news” heralded by Isaiah.

Isaiah 61:1-3 [61:1]The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; [2]to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; [3]to grant to those who mourn in Zion-- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified. (ESV)

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