THE GOSPEL BEGINS
MARK 1 PRINCETON CHRISTIAN CHURCH 08 OCTOBER 2023
The Gospel of Mark, among the 4 Gospels in our Bible, is the most concise account of the life and ministry of Jesus. The book was written about 50 A.D. by John Mark. Mark, as we know him, was a friend of the Apostle Peter. Mark was possibly led to Christ under Peter’s teaching.
In 1 Peter 5:13 Peter refers to Mark as his son.
Mark was a relative of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10) Paul refers to Mark as Barnabas’s cousin, with instructions for the church at Colossae to welcome Mark when he comes to the church there.
Mark had accompanied Peter on some of his missionary journeys. One interesting event is recorded in Acts 15:37-39 – “Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also, but Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabus took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.”
We are told in Acts 12:12 that Mark’s mother owned a house in Jerusalem which was used as a meeting place for the church. That verse says, “And when he (speaking of Peter here) realized this (that the Lord had sent an angel to rescue Peter from death by Herod), he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John, who was also called Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying (for the release of Peter from prison).
There is a tradition – not Biblical fact - that says that Mark traveled with Peter and also that the church requested that as they traveled preaching the Gospel, Mark should write down all that Peter said concerning Jesus. That tradition would claim that Make was the person who wrote down what Peter said. It’s one of those questions you can ask Peter when you get to heaven.
The Gospel according to Mark does not begin with the birth and early life of Jesus. Mark wrote, apparently with the Roman people in mind, to tell them of the power and the divinity of Christ.
So, in his writing of what we know as the Gospel of Mark, the focus is on these things:
1. The miracles that Jesus performed.
2. He explains Jewish words and customs to people who were unfamiliar with them.
3. He gives many intimate and interesting details. These details came from one who was there when these things happened. So, it was an eyewitness telling of these happenings.
4. Mark deals very little with the Messianic prophecies.
5. Mark’s Gospel includes only a few of the discourses of Jesus.
So, Mark does not waste time but gets right to the message in a bold and brief presentation of the Gospel.
Mark gets down to business in his telling us how Jesus Christ got down to business as well in His ministry.
MARK’S INTRODUCTION OF JESUS
Mark’s message lets us know that we should not neglect the beginnings. He starts his writing by saying, The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In other words, he is saying; Listen, and I will tell you about the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And then, he doesn’t leave his readers hanging, wondering who is this Jesus Christ. He immediately tells us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Now, compare Mark’s introduction to that of Genesis 1 and the Gospel according to John in John 1:1.
John begins his Gospel writing by saying “In the beginning – was the Word. Then he tells us where the Word was. Then finally he tells us who the Word was. The Word was with God – and the Word was God.
They speak of the beginnings of the world and human life.
Mark speaks of the beginnings of salvation in Christ. The Good News (the Gospel) begins with Christ.
The glory of Christ is the Good News, and it is declared at the beginning. He was in the beginning of the earth. He was more than just a baby born in Bethlehem who was later chosen to be the Savior of the world. He was the Savior of the world from the Beginning of the world.
Jesus is the prophet of Nazareth. He is the promised Messiah who is divinely appointed by His Father, God.
He is the only begotten Son of the Living God.
We have a Biblical account of the physical birth of the Messiah, the Son of God and how He came into the world.
We have sons in our earthly families. Some of us are sons in earthly families. But Jesus’ Sonship is different. His Sonship is more than a family resemblance. His Sonship is Identity with His Father. It is a Partnership with His Father.
Without that identifier and that partnership between God and man, there is no revelation of God’s character or His love.
THE FULFILLMENT OF PROPHECY
We can go to Isaiah 40:3 and hear the announcement of the preparation for the coming of the Lord. “A voice is calling, “ Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.”
Then we can go to Malachi 4:3 with the prophecy that tells us this reference to Jesus, that “you will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing, says the Lord of Hosts.”
Malachi identified that voice with a later prophet coming in the spirit and power of Elijah.
John the Baptist is boldly declared to have fulfilled the prophecies.
In his rough and vigorous ways, John the Baptist was very much like Elijah. Listen to this description of Elijah: “Wild from the wilderness, bearded like its lion-lord the fury of God glaring in his eye; his mantle heaving to his heaving breast; his words stern, swelling, tinged on their edges with a terrible poetry; his attitude dignity; his gesture power – how he burst upon the astonished gaze; how swift and solemn his entrance! How short and spirit-like his stay! The impression made by his words long after they had ceased to be spoken. God testified him to be the greatest of the family of prophets.
We picture John the Baptist as he is described in Mark 1:6 – “John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.”
John preached repentance. In baptism, a new force was added to what was required in the hearers’ commitment. Repentance was more than just a word. It was more than just a promise. It was more than just an outward gesture or act.
Repentance was total involvement.
In declaring the supremacy of Christ, John fulfilled the promise of preparing the way.
JESUS’ EARLY PREPARATION FOR MINISTRY (Mark 1:9-13)
He was baptized by John. As He came up out of the water the heavens opened and the Spirit like a dove descended upon Him. And then we read that a voice came out of the heavens. That voice spoke –“You are my beloved Son; in You I am well-pleased.”
This was God’s affirmation of who Jesus is. We need no further word from anyone to tell us who Jesus is, other than that voice that spoke out of the heavens.
God said it. That does it!
From there Jesus conducted the ministry that He was called to carry out. His ministry was not an insignificant ministry. It was, and is a maximum ministry. With maximum effort. With maximum power.
Jesus asks nothing of us that He has not already endured.
His Father, God, Our Father, approves of what He has done. He has in everything and in every way, obeyed His Father’s will and has received that approval from His Father.
In our lives, we face temptations constantly. We have the opportunity to combat those temptations with the power that is within us through Christ.
Or we can give into those temptations. When we do that we cause Satan to jump with glee because that looks to him like a victory. He thinks he has won us over.
Temptation will always be with us. Anyone who thinks he is immune to temptation is in great danger. Because that is when Satan will strike. Remember, that when Jesus was in the wilderness after His baptism, Satan tempted Jesus three times. Then he left him for a time. But --- he returned. He began to try again to tempt Jesus.
He does that to us as well. He tries to lure us into sin time and time again. But then, he may leave us alone for a spell and work on someone else. We must not believe we have conquered Satan at that point. Because – he always comes back to us hoping to find us in a weaker condition making us more vulnerable and more likely to give in to his lies.
Jesus was tempted just as we are, He was tempted just like those He came to save. That is us!
Read Mark 1:12-12, After His baptism: “ Immediately the Spirit impelled him to go into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan, and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him. “
I believe that after each of us were baptized, the next day, we went back into our usual environment. That is, we went back to our place of work, or school, or wherever we had to be in our normal daily life.
But, in a sense, we were out there in the desert where we were tempted to return to our old ways of serving Satan.
After anyone gives his or her life to Christ and begins to serve Him they are surrounded by wild beasts (people without Christ) who want to win us back to our old life in sin.
So, we must take the example of Christ, and resist Satan’s wicked ways, and resist his attempts to make his way of life more appealing and attempting to make the life lived in Christ to be less appealing.
We have to say it and say it loud and say it with power: “Get behind me. Out of my way, Satan. I serve the Lord my God and His Son, my Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Satan will not jump with glee when he hears that. Instead, he will flee. He doesn’t like to hear the name of Jesus. Just keep repeating that Name in Satan’s ear.
The only answer to the sin question is maintaining a life of Bible study, prayer, service, and stewardship. We can overcome sin if we have a faith that is active every day.
Well, this story has a magnificent ending. The King has come into His Kingdom. That is the Good News.
We must fear evil because it is always dangerous. There is always a trap attached to anything Satan devises.
Our strength must come and will come as we love our Lord and serve Him faithfully. It is then we will find peace and joy.
That Good News brought the opportunity for repentance to those living in a life of sin – which of course, was all of us before we submitted to Christ. We don’t have to remain in a life drifting without purpose. We don’t have to remain in a state of lostness.
The time has been fulfilled. The Gospel began when Jesus Christ began to preach. He was heard. Everyone who heard responded.
Some responded in acceptance of His Word.
Sadly, multitudes responded by saying NO to the Good News and the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:2: “Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of (your) salvation.