The Beginning of the Gospel Mark 1:1-3
INTRO.: Today’s message begins a series taken from the Gospel of Mark. It is the shortest of all the inspired biographies of Jesus and probably the first one written.
Its human author was a man named John Mark, who apparently writes himself anonymously into the record in 14:51. There is little known of him. He was probably a teenager when Jesus died and about 70 when he wrote. He was strongly influenced by the Apostle Peter, who called him his “son,” indicating he probably won him to Christ. Most scholars assume his Gospel is a synopsis of Peter’s preaching.
The first mention of Mark by name is in Acts 12:12 where we learn the Church met for prayer at his mother’s house in Jerusalem.
In Acts 13:5, it is noted he went with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary tour as their helper. This was quite a while after his departure from Jerusalem and separation from Peter. When Paul and Barnabas left Cyprus, John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem. Later, this caused a division between Paul and Barnabas. Acts 15:36-40
They reconciled their differences and later Paul wrote from prison and asked the Colossians to send Mark to him so Mark could help him in his ministry. He spent some time with Paul while he was in prison in Rome. He evidently wrote his Gospel from Rome and targeted a Gentile readership. In the text, three phrases stand out. One involves the content of the message and the other two relate to the leading character.
I. The first is the “The beginning of the Gospel:”
A. The word itself means “good news.”
1. We must denounce sin and call for repentance. Must preach morality. These things are important, but are not the Gospel. The Gospel is a message of salvation, of comfort, hope, and joy.
2. Of course good news is the essence of the Christian message. Good news about forgiveness of sins and good news about the coming of Jesus and all He accomplished.
3. It was the proclamation of the angels in Lk. 2:10.
B. Mark is going to tell the beginning of the Gospel:
1. “Beginning” doesn’t refer to the beginning of the life of Jesus, Ministry of John, of Mark’s book’ or of a chapter or paragraph.
2. He is going to tell how the Good News began to be lived out in human history in the person of Jesus Christ. He will explain why the Good News is so good and why it is news.
3. He will show his readers, most of whom lived without God and without hope, that now there is hope in Jesus.
4. We all need this message today. In the midst of suffering, hardship, anxiety, there is good news in Jesus. There is hope, joy, comfort. There is a bright future.
C. There is a mystery in this passage: Mark seems to promise a quote from the prophet Isaiah then quotes, not from Isaiah, but from Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets. (Mal. 3:1.) There are a few things we must consider:
1. Mark’s Gospel is the first inspired biography of Jesus ever written. Before Mark wrote, those who preached Jesus used the Old Testament Scriptures to prove who He was. See the example of Phillip preaching to the Ethiopian in Acts. 8:32-35.
2. Remember, the language of the original text of the Bible had no punctuation and sentences didn’t begin with capital letters. These are matters of interpretation by the translators. The great Bible expositor, G. Cambell Morgan, suggested there should be a comma after “God” and a period after “Isaiah.”
3. Mark proposes to show his Gentile readers what the Jewish prophet about which they had heard so much was really describing. The life and ministry of Jesus.
4. He begins his narrative, after this introduction, with a quote from Isa. 40, the beginning of the Suffering Servant passages, where the prophet dwells so much on the ministry of Jesus.
5. This Good News was not conceived in the womb of a virgin with Jesus but in the mind of God from before eternity began and it was revealed through the prophets to those who “had an ear to hear.”
II. The second phrase that stands out is the name, “Jesus Christ.”
A. “Jesus” expressed His humanity. It was a human name.
1. A very common name in His day, Greek for “Joshua.” Given to Him at birth as directed by an angel before His birth.
2. A name that connects Him with humanity. Identified Him as the human child He was.
3. He came to earth to show us what the Invisible God is like and what He expects from us.
4. John proclaims this in his Gospel. John 1:18
B. “Christ” expresses His mission:
1. “Anointed One,” it is not a name, but a title.
2. It connects Him with the eternal God. He is the “Messiah,” the Savior Who had been promised thousands of years earlier. Again, the “servant of God” Isaiah wrote about.
3. “Jesus” calls up images of a Galilean peasant, an itinerant preacher, a suffering servant. “Christ” brings us into the Presence of God. In that title, we see God’s glory, full of grace and truth.
4. “Jesus” means flesh and blood. “Christ” means anointed with the Holy Spirit of God.
C. Mark proposes to tell us how God walked the earth in human flesh.
1. How God can understand our trials and tribulations because He shared them. How He can sympathize with our fears of death because He died.
2. He will show us how, through Jesus, someone living in human flesh can nevertheless, live for eternity in the Presence of the Almighty.
3. He will show us what God is like by showing us what Jesus did.
III. The third phrase that stands out is “the Son of God.”
A. Mark leaves no room for doubt or hesitation about this. He does not argue the point or even offer evidence. He simply states it as a given fact.
1. He isn’t interested in convincing us of the truth of Jesus’ claims, just stating what He did and how He related to those around Him.
2. We can relate this to our witness for Christ. So often we think we must be able to argue and prove something, to establish some truth.
3. All we really need to do is tell others what Jesus has done. That’s what the world really needs. If we just tell the story, they will draw their own conclusions about the Person and power of Jesus.
B. That’s what happened to Simon Peter: Matt. 16:13-16
1. Disciples had been following Jesus, listening to Him for nearly two years. Now it is time to test their perception of who He is.
2. Others who had not been so close to Him had erroneous ideas. Popular opinions fell far short of the truth about Him.
3. Those who had followed close to Him knew exactly who He was/ “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” There was no hesitation on Peter’s part.
4. Mark was close to Peter, heard him preach often. Had no hesitation as to who He was.
C. Mark connects the writings of the prophet Isaiah with the life of Jesus and he says in essence, the same thing as Hebrews 1:1 says.
1. Nothing of the life and ministry of Jesus was an accident or a last minute event. Everything was carefully planned for thousands of years.
2. In Jesus we see all the power and majesty of God in human flesh. He is not just an ordinary teacher, philosopher, leader. He is God.
3. In His deity is our hope. A hope not just for wisdom, pleasure, comfort, peace, but for all that and eternal life as well.
4. John 5:25, 26: “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live. 26. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.”
CONC.: The Gospel of Mark is known as a Gospel of action. It has little of the teachings of Jesus and less off the teaching about Him. It is simply a brief record of what He did. Mark seemed to feel Jesus would be adequately revealed in what He did.
John 12:20, 21 - At the feast of Passover, some Foreigners came to Phillip with a simple request. “We would like to see Jesus.” For the next few weeks I want you to see Jesus in the preaching. Simply to see Jesus. He is the source of our hope.