Summary: Mark shows us how Jesus was announced by John the Baptist, affirmed by God the Father and even proven by the opposition of Satan to be the Savior.
Christmas Series – 2014
The Birth Narratives
Sermon # 4
The Credentials of the King
If your job this morning was to introduce Jesus to the world, where would you begin. This is your one shot at telling the world about Jesus what would you tell them? What would you include and what would you leave out. For as John says in John 21:25, “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
My intent in our Christmas series - “The Birth Narratives was to note how each of the Gospel’s intro-duces the person of Jesus differently. So far in series we have examined “The Genealogy of the King” in which we noted that Matthew introduces Jesus by giving His gen-ealogy. His was to prove that Jesus was of the lineage of King David and thus qualified to be the Messiah.
Last week in “The Eternal King” we noted that John made sure that no one came to the erroneous conclusion that the life of Jesus began at His birth in human form at Bethlehem, John begins in eternity past.
Mark begins his Gospel account of the life of Jesus with one short, yet profound statement: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1).
“In contrast with Matthew, who starts with a genealogy and needs sixteen verses to announce Jesus is the king of the Jews; …in contrast to John, who introduces his Gospel with a sentence of seventeen mystical and baffling words to show that Jesus is the Son of God, … in contrast with Luke, who begins with a sentence of eighty-two words in order to tell the story of Jesus as the Savior of all men; Mark puts it all together in a simple sentence of twelve words.” [David L. McKenna. “Mark.” The Communicators Commentary. (Waco: Word, 1982) p. 27]
Mark begins by saying, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” and in so doing he is saying that what he is about to share is foundational to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Gospel means “good news” and Jesus is presented as the Christ - the one who has come to save men from their sins. And that is good news. The found-ation of the Gospel, the good news of salvation is the message that repentance is both possible and necess-ary. Repentance is necessary and forgiveness is avail-able.
Mark makes his case with the presentation of three character witnesses, John the Baptist, God the Father, and Satan the tempter.
First, Announced By Man. (1:2-8)
•The Authority of John’s Message. (vv. 2-3)
“As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.”(3) “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.”
John the Baptist is saying that he is the messen-ger sent from God and the message is based on the authority of God’s word. In fact his coming is foretold - “as it is written in the prophets” (v.2). John the Baptist was the fulfillment of that which was foretold by the prophets as the one who would prepare the way for the Messiah. The prophecy that Mark refers is Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert - A highway for our God.” And in Malachi 3:1 we read, “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight Behold, He is coming.”
There has been over three hundred years of prop-hetic silence in Israel. God has not spoken but now John the Baptist burst on to the scene and is presented as the fulfillment of those prophecies of the forerunner of the Messiah. God’s Word is the authority for John’s ministry.
John had the authority of Scripture and when he spoke he told it like it was. He did not dance around the truth. He dealt with issues that others in his day were afraid to tackle. John was not afraid to tell it straight because he was not merely giving his opinion he was revealing what God demanded.
• The Aim of John’s Message. (v. 4)
“John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”
The baptism that John spoke of is probably more important than we readily understand. First, the Jews are being asked to do something they have never done before. Baptism is not a normal practice among the Jews. The only thing that came close was the fact that Gentile converts to Judaism were baptized. But Jews were not baptized. This had never been done before in their history. John as a Jew was asking Jews to submit to something that they thought was only required of Gentiles.