Summary: The beginningof the gospel of Mark and the purpose of the life of John the Baptist.
A Study of the Gospel of Mark
February 24, 2008
Me: I love movement and action. I am constantly moving. Even when I am sitting totally still, I fidget and move to the point where I drive people around me crazy. But I love action and excitement. Everyone does.
Last week while my family and I were gone we went to a rodeo. This is not a usual Harvey family outing. The closest I come to being country is eating at Cracker Barrel, so this was a new experience for us.
As we approached the arena, our family was buzzing about how excited we all were. We couldn’t wait for the action to begin.
You: Don’t you love it when action is happening? When was the last time you were really moved to excitement over something really amazing?
The reason I am talking about action and movement is that today we are beginning a look at the life of Jesus in the book of Mark. Mark portrays Jesus as always on the go and that he was moving. Mark uses the word “immediately” 41 times in his book to give the reader a first hand picture of the action that is happening.
Let’s look at a few historical highlights of Mark before we really dive in:
1) Mark was written by John Mark who is found associated with Peter and Paul in Acts 12.
2) Mark wrote this account of the life of Jesus between A.D. 60-70.
3) Mark wrote of the life of Jesus as recounted to him by the apostle Peter.
4) Mark writes primarily to a non-Jewish audience.
5) Mark wrote in the midst of brutal Romans persecution. (Nero A.D. 64)
6) Mark uses the suffering of Christ to encourage his readers about their own suffering.
So, with that as a backdrop, let’s dive into the first few verse of Mark 1.
“The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Mark 1:1
Mark begins his writing by talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The word “gospel” literally means good news.
This was a term widely used in the first century by the Roman Empire to take news of the empire around the world. The thought or the image is that Rome was fixing the world and it was becoming a better place because of the work of Caesar.
Now, the message is not good news about Rome, but about “Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
The name Jesus was one of the most common names among first century Jewish families. The reason is that every mother and father wanted to believe that their child would be the one to deliver the Jews.
Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua which means “YHWH is salvation.”
Christ is the Greek word meaning anointed one or the Hebrew translation messiah.
For a couple of thousand years the Jewish nation was looking for salvation to come in the form of the Messiah. Now Mark is declaring this in the middle of persecution of believers by Rome. This is the ultimate good news!!!
Mark begins his writing not with the Messiah, but with the one who came before the Messiah.
“It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way" -- "a voice of one calling in the desert, ’Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 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.” Mark 1:2-5
John is in the desert outside of Jerusalem about 20 miles baptizing in the Jordan River. To get here, not only do you have to travel 20 miles outside the city, but you have to travel about 4, 000 feet up to where John is. But the text tells us that people are flocking to John to hear what he says and to be baptized.
John baptized for the repentance of sin.
Repentance is a change of mind.
(A deliberate turning)
People would come to John, confess their sin and he would baptize them as a sign that they had been forgiven by God.
The end result of true repentance is God’s forgiveness.
People came to John because they had a need that was bigger than they could meet. John’s role was to give them good news about their need.
You: Today, you may be here today and have a need bigger than you can meet. I want to let you know that Jesus Christ is the good news for you. I want you to know that when you choose repentance, God chooses forgiveness.
We: The role of the church today is to bring good news into the lives of people. When we do that, there will be a breathless moment where God is at the center of the action in people’s lives.