ESTABLISHING HIS CREDENTIALS
Princeton Christian Church MARK 1:1-13 26 March 2023
Mark presents the facts to prove that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who serves us and the Son of Man who saves us.
If you are reading a novel, you might notice that the opening line is very important in setting the scene for the whole book.
Let me give you some examples:
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens – The opening line goes like this, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” That causes you to want to know more about those times.
Then, there is The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. His opening line says this: “He was an old man who fished alone,” It makes you want to find out more about this character and why he fishes alone.
But, there is no opening line that even begins to compare with the opening line of your Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That opening line definitely should make us hungry to learn more about these heavens and this earth. And even more so, that opening line should cause us to know more about the God who created the heavens and the earth, and how, and why He created it.
Now, look at the opening line in the Gospel according to Mark. Here is his opening line: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,”
We should be eager to learn more about this One called Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Mark’s writing tells us when – the beginning; he tells us what – the beginning of the Gospel; then he tells us who – Jesus Christ; then he lets us know the how - the Son of God. He is the Christ because He is the Son of God.
In that one short sentence, Mark announces the theme of his writing. The theme is the Gospel – Jesus Christ.
Now, the question comes – can he prove that this Jesus he writes about is the Christ, the Son of God?
An attorney said to a young law student: “If your facts are strong, hammer on the facts. If your facts are weak, hammer on the desk.”
There is no question as to the strength and truth of the facts Mark presents in his writing.
Mark’s case begins with the presentation of 3-character witnesses:
John the Baptist
God the Father
Satan the Tempter
The testimonies of these three witnesses leave no doubt that Jesus has the credentials to begin His ministry as the Servant Lord.
JESUS WAS ANNOUNCED BY MAN (2-8)
We have quotes from Malachi chapter 3 and from Isaiah in verses 2 and 3 in Mark 1 which tell us of the coming of the Preparer/Forerunner. That is John the Baptist.
John’s role was not to be Number One. John would certainly be out of place here in the “ME” generation in which we live today. There is so much self-interest today that people are focused on making sure they get their “piece of the pie” that others are neglected.
John the Baptist, of course, had all it takes to be a #1. As a Nazirite, he was prepared. He had the message, and he was bold in its delivery. He was a successful speaker and people listened to him.
But John was willing to be second. He overcame the temptation to claim authority. He was submissive to the task he was given and the message he was to proclaim. He was, in that respect, submissive to the higher power.
Jesus honored John in Luke 7:28. Hear this, how Jesus honored John Luke 7:28: “I say to you, among those born of women there is no on greater than John.”
JESUS WAS AFFIRMED BY GOD (9-11)
This is a lesson for leadership.
A man told about a miserable moment during his military training. The recruits had been ordered to the rifle range right after a rainstorm. Lying face down in the mud, they shot round after round. He said that he reached back in anger for shells from the soldier who was flat in the mud behind him. With resentment, he rammed every shell into the chamber, and with hate, he squeezed the trigger. Then, as he reached back for another round, he saw the face of the man who was feeding him the ammunition out of the corner of his eye. It was his Commander! Flat in the mud and passing shells, the Commander became one of his own men. The man said, “From that time on I was ready to follow that man, even to death.”
That is the quality of an exceptional leader. That is what Jesus saw in John.
Mark, as he writes, knows that his case for Jesus as the Servant Leader begins with the evidence that He, Jesus, is on our level, beside us, and sharing in our experiences.
As Mark writes we see God’s approval and we see the Spirit coming.
Jesus was anointed by God. This means that He was Holy, and separated to God. And Jesus says, about John, that he is anointed by God. So, Jesus, recognizing that John has been separated to God, says “I claim you, I love you, I am proud of you.”
In our relationships with God, our relationships with family, our relationships with one another – it is very simple. Nothing is more important than belonging. Belonging requires a need of security and need to be held, a need to be loved with a self-sacrificing love, and to be praised.
HE WAS ACKNOWLEDGED BY SATAN (12-13)
There was no time for Jesus to get used to the glory that was his. The Scripture (Mark 1:12 says that Immediately He was impelled to go out to the wilderness.
There is a lesson in this for us today. If we receive praise or are honored we must be careful to not allow our heads to swell so greatly that we lose sight of who we really are.
Jesus here was banished to loneliness. He experienced the “roller coaster ride” from a high to a low. He stood in God’s presence and was instructed to go into the wilderness – to darkness and loneliness.
What do we find in the wilderness – only Satan and the wild animals. When we find ourselves in our isolation we might seem to be surrounded by only Satan and wild animals.
While Jesus was in the wilderness, this was a prime time for Satan to make His attack on Jesus. After all, emotionally He had fallen from high to low. As far as His physical condition He had gone from His baptism to the insecurity of the desert.
Physically, He was weakened by hunger. All this left Jesus open to any temptation. A perfect time for Satan to begin his work.
That is the same time Satan moves in on us. Our character is tested when we are alone. Our masks are dropped. We are exposed as our true selves.
Our creativity is tested when we are alone. What resources do we have? Which ones will we use? We should use the same resource Jesus used. He used the Scriptures. He quoted Scripture to Satan: “It is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”
Our communion with God and His Son is tested when we are alone. Alone, you can shout and no one hears you. Jesus experienced and enjoyed an unbroken communion with His Father, God.
Jesus passed the tests of being alone. But there was a price to pay. Angels came and ministered to Him. This happened here in the desert and also later in the Garden of Gethsemane.
His suffering was not easy just because He was the Son of God. He suffered all that we suffer. He never asked anything of us that He Himself has not already suffered and endured.
When we triumph in our desert we are not alone. Satan will retreat as the loser.
Jesus – announced by man, affirmed by God and acknowledged by Satan.
Jesus – has the credentials to qualify Him as the Christ, the Son of God.
Will you acknowledge Him as your Savior and Serve Him?