Summary: Mark begins his book by revealing the start of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is about the transforming power of Jesus!
The Need for Spiritual Transformation
THE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the Prophets:
"Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You."
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
’Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths straight.’"
John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, "There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. "I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Mark 1:1-8
Introduction - Transformation
When Steve Henning of Huntley, Illinois, was two years old, he contracted spinal meningitis. It was the winter of 1943, and because of World War II, doctors had a shortage of penicillin and could not provide Steve the treatment he needed. Sadly, he lost his hearing. For 57 years, Steve could not hear music, laughter, or human speech. Even though he lived a full life, he still longed to hear the voices of those he loved. In the winter of 2001, he learned of a surgical procedure that would allow sound waves to bypass the non-functioning part of his ear and travel directly to the auditory nerve. On January 30th he was operated on. Because the implanted device could not be activated until the swelling in the ear decreased, doctors and Steve didn’t know if the operation was successful for six weeks. The day of reckoning came on a blustery spring day. Steve nervously wondered if the procedure had been in vain. As the audiologist programmed the cochlear implant, he invited Steve’s wife to say something. Pat Henning leaned toward her husband and gently said, "I love you." Able to hear for the first time in six decades, Steve’s face broke into a smile. The first words he heard were of love.
When a person comes to know Christ, the Lord opens spiritual ears that have previously been unable to hear. Paul describes this transformation to the Corinthians this way: "Old things pass away, and all things become new." That includes the ability to hear God saying, "I love you!"
As we begin our study in Mark today, I want you to notice four things about the transforming nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We observe it in John’s arrival, audience, appearance and announcement.
Witness John’s ARRIVAL (1-4)
Without human fanfare, John arrives on the scene to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. John’s proclamation was that Jesus was no ordinary man. In this we see the Presentation of the Gospel. (1) Jesus was God in human flesh. The Book of Mark is all about Jesus and God’s plan of redemption for mankind. In this book we see the Preparation of the Gospel. (2-3) The scripture is given of John’s role in proclaiming this life-changing role. Malachi and Isaiah are the prophets quoted here. John is the one preparing a people for the King of kings! Then we see role of John’s Participation in the Gospel. (4) He didn’t go to the large metropolitan areas where the masses could gather. Rather he was in the hard to locate areas where word of mouth was the best advertisement. He proclaimed a message that was unpopular to the religious elite but was unpretentious to the immoral. They needed to hear a word from God!
Illustration – Unassuming
In 1884 a young man died, and after the funeral his grieving parents decided to establish a memorial to him. With that in mind they met with Charles Eliot, president of Harvard University. Eliot received the unpretentious couple into his office and asked what he could do. After they expressed their desire to fund a memorial, Eliot impatiently said, “Perhaps you have in mind a scholarship.”
“We were thinking of something more substantial than that… perhaps a building,” the woman replied.
In a patronizing tone, Eliot brushed aside the idea as being too expensive and the couple departed. The next year, Eliot learned that this plain pair had gone elsewhere and established a $26 million memorial named Leland Stanford Junior University, better known today as Stanford!
Many times God uses unassuming people to accomplish His work. Sometimes He uses “ordinary” people. But always He uses His people like John the Baptist who yield themselves to Him in obedience.
Recognize John’s AUDIENCE (5)