Summary: Jesus springs on the scene with no pedigree, no history, and only a strange man to vouch for him. And yet people were instantly drawn to Him - why?
• The first teaching – and 1st miracle – an exorcism with a hint at Jesus’ true identity – and a stern warning to be quiet
• Jesus priority of prayer, and inability to be “managed”
• His first physical healing – again with the warning not to reveal it
• The anonymous man from nowhere now has nowhere to go anonymously
1:1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Mark doesn’t begin with the birth of Jesus, but with the “gospel” of Jesus – His ministry, not his family. Mark writes about Jesus as the servant – no one cares where a servant comes from. His pedigree doesn’t matter. In fact, Jesus is like someone who appears out of nowhere – and yet Mark gives it the weight of prophecy:
2 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 desert, ’Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’"
It kind of sets the stage for this stranger, Jesus – “one calling in the desert.” The prophecies are actually a combination from Isaiah, Malachi, and Exodus.
4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and 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 will come one more powerful than I, the thongs 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."
John’s baptism was one of realization and preparation – realize you’ve got a problem with God – and its sin. Then preparation that God has a plan to deal with sin and its Jesus. John “softened up the battlefield” in a way for Jesus.
It doesn’t mean that every single person came from Judea and Jerusalem but that a cross section from the entire region came. Mark describes John’s wardrobe and diet – I know that the Atkins diet is very popular these days, but what about the John the Baptist diet – locusts and wild honey?
John’s clothing would have reminded the Israelites immediately of one man – not Isaiah, Malachi or Moses – but Elijah. In 2nd Kings he is described as a man wearing a hairy garment with a leather girdle around his loins. A strange guy, for sure, but it may explain why John was so popular – Elijah come back.
Also note – to go to John was to leave the comfortable place and travel to the wilderness, where you were going to hear an uncomfortable message. That’s the beginning of receiving the gospel – realize you’ve got to leave the comfort of your life, and go to a place where you’ll be challenged to rethink your position.
John’s message about Jesus was two fold: Someone important is coming, but I’m not He, and that this is only the first step as you encounter something beyond the physical – a complete change from the past, through the Holy Spirit.