Mark 1-5 (11-20-21)
As we dive into Mark’s Gospel, I want to give us a little context.
1. Who is Mark?
Mark was not an eyewitness of Jesus’ life but was a secretary/translator for Peter, who was one of Christ’s disciples. Mark took Peter’s eyewitness testimony and pieced it together into the narrative that is the Gospel of Mark that we know today. This helps make sense of the fact that Peter is present in every part of Mark’s Gospel.
2. What are the Gospels?
The word gospel means “news,” and it specifically means good news of an event.
The gospel is the good news of the grace and power of God to redeem undeserving sinners to eternal life through Jesus’ perfect, sinless life; substitutional, sacrificial death; and victorious resurrection from the grave. These sinners are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone from the eternal wrath they deserved, and they are reconciled into an eternally secure relationship with God. (Q68.The Word of Truth Catechism).
The four written Gospels are found in the New Testament, and they testify of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. They are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
3. What is unique about Mark’s Gospel?
A few things that make Mark’s Gospel unique:
- It is written in the present tense. A fast-paced, action-packed narrative helps Mark be read with urgency and importance as to who Jesus is.
- Mark’s Gospel recounts less of Jesus’ teaching and more of Jesus doing. I pray that this is a reminder to us not to just hear but to witness and respond likewise with action instead of just contemplation.
- This Gospel is a mosaic of events that tell us about Jesus’ ministry on earth. Even though the overall format of Mark’s Gospel is narrative or story, it does not possess a continuous story line, but it is a collection of discrete units. The result is a collage or mosaic of the life of Jesus. As you study with us in the next few weeks, put yourself in the position of Mark and Peter’s traveling companion, as they assemble this documentary on the life of Christ based on Peter’s testimony.
- Finally, Mark’s telling of Jesus’ ministry is given to us in two distinct acts:
Act 1 (chapters 1-8) is all about Jesus’ identity and authority as King over all things: the King of glory, the King of kings!
Act 2 (chapters 9-16) is all about Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross and the purpose for it. We see the sacrificial Lamb, the servant leader, and our substitutionary atonement.
With that, let’s dig into Chapter 1.
Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel …
Mark is said to have been the first Gospel that was written.
It is fitting that it begins with the sentence, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” In other words, this written account is the first to be written so that the GOOD NEWS of Jesus’ life and ministry can be shared for all peoples to be able to study and know.
Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
The central figure of the gospel is Jesus Christ. He is the good news.
He is the central figure of all of life, our world, and all that exists.
Jesus Christ is the most significant man to have ever lived in the history of the world.
In fact, human history is divided around his life. We have B.C., which is “Before Christ,” and A.D., which is “Anno Domini,” a Latin phrase meaning “the year of our Lord.” Our history literally hinges on this man.
The Scriptures tell us the name we will sing and celebrate of for all of eternity is Jesus Christ. The Scriptures tell us that the world was created at the word of Jesus.
Jesus lived a relatively simple life. He never traveled more than 200 miles from His home. He never wrote a book. He never married. He never had children, never ran for political office, never oversaw a large company, never made a lot of money. The first 30 years of His life were spent in great simplicity while working a blue-collar job as a carpenter with His dad.
The part of Jesus’ life that this book covers is the last three years of His life. He spent them doing ministry, preaching, teaching, and performing miracles while mentoring a small group of average Joes.
Jesus Christ was then falsely arrested, publicly tortured, and murdered at the age of 33!
This is “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
We are given two titles after Jesus’ name: Christ and Son of God.
Let’s look further at these important titles to better understand who Jesus is.
The Greek word is Christos, meaning an “anointed royal figure.”
Christ is also translated in the Hebrew as “the Messiah.”
The Messiah was the one foretold in Jewish history who would come reconcile God’s people to God: the Redeemer.
So, Jesus Christ is an anointed royal figure–a King!
He is not just “a” King; He is “the” King. He is the one mankind has been waiting for.
He is the One who would redeem God’s people from the slavery of sin and death and deliver us to eternal victory in life with God.
The second title used here is Son of God.
Mark ups the stakes all the way by using this title: Son of God.
In other words, Jesus is divinity; He is God.
A minute ago, I said He was not just “a” king but “the” King.
Like I might say Michael Jordan is not just “a” basketball player but the greatest basketball player ever.
But the title Son of God takes His kingship to another level. He is not just a king, and not just the greatest king to ever wear a crown …
He is the King of the kings,
the Lord of lords, the Creator and Ruler of the heavens and the Earth.
He is the Son of God, upon which nothing holds a higher rank! Nothing.
My prayer is that you come to know the Christ–Jesus. That He would be your King, your Redeemer, the one to bring you from death to life everlasting. But I also pray that He would become your everything, and that you come to enjoy Him and know His power and majesty at such an intimate level that nothing compares to knowing Him.
The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
In the first 12 words of the Gospel of Mark, we are told:
This is a story …
about a man named Jesus …
who is the Christ, the anointed royal One, the Messiah.
It has been foretold since the most ancient roots of Israel that He would come and reconcile God’s people once and for all to God Himself.
If that were not enough, that this Christ, this Messiah, this royal Redeemer is not an angel and not just a man, but He is the Son of God in human flesh. He is the divine Redeemer King.
To cement and validate this epic introduction, Mark refers back to Isaiah’s famous prophetic passage about the man who would announce the Messiah’s arrival:
Mark 1:2-3 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’”
Then in verse 4, Mark goes on to say that John the Baptist is the announcer, the preparer, the messenger, the voice!
Mark 1:4-6 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.
The wild hippie man would announce the arrival of the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Lord.
John definitely understood the power–the magnitude–of the One he was setting the table for. Mark 1:7 says, “And [John the Baptist] preached, saying, ‘After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.’”
Not even worthy to untie His filthy sandals. That was a task for the lowest slave in that day.
Think about what he is saying in this.
Now this is either a recognition of how low you are or how high the person you speak of is.
In this case, it was both. John understood how low he was in the towering shadow of the Son of God!
The name of God in the Old Testament is “I AM.”
This statement from John was him saying, “My name is I am not; Jesus is I AM.”
We can learn so much and gain even more from the perspective John had of himself compared to Christ.
See, our sinful tendency is to make much of ourselves, which makes it hard for us to embrace the fact that Jesus is so far greater. But let me tell you, when you gain a new perspective like John had of who you are in comparison to who Christ is, you begin to know freedom. Freedom from:
- The seduction of fame
- The tyranny of comparison
- The delusion of greatness
- The never-ending scramble to be better than others
- Ego and pride
You are free to let Jesus be God and to enjoy the privileged opportunity to make much of His name.
Back to Mark’s introduction of Jesus to us:
He has made it clear that Jesus is royalty like no other the world has ever known and the One who has been prophesied about and expected like no other. He is the King.
Our first sight of Jesus in Mark’s telling is not His birth or childhood experiences like other Gospels. Instead, Mark skips right to Jesus’ baptism. This is Jesus’ commissioning for ministry. In His baptism, we get to see an even fuller picture of who the Son of God is.
Mark 1:10-11 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
In these two verses, we get to see the Trinity at work.
The Triune Godhead: a tri-unity or three in oneness.
The Scriptures teach us that there is one God who eternally and equally exists in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Each Person is fully God, and the three make up our one God.
Here we see Jesus, God the Son, being baptized;
God the Father saying, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased;”
and God the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove.
Now look at what follows the Trinity’s work in Jesus being commissioned to ministry:
Mark 1:12-13 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
The first sight of Jesus in Mark is at His baptism, where the Trinity commissions Jesus to ministry.
But where does it go next? It goes to the desert, where Jesus will be tempted by Satan just like Adam and Eve were in the garden.
The first Adam failed and gave into sin, just as all of us have done since.
Mankind is self-centered and against God in our sin.
The temptation of Jesus is just like the one given to Adam, and yet Jesus stayed faithful to God.
This is a view into the restoration of God’s people that Jesus would bring. He would be the Redeemer of our lives by His faithful work and substitutional atonement on the cross. May we not just know about the good news of Jesus but walk in His power every day, as we look to serve our God and not our flesh.
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC