1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; 3 THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.’ ” 4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. 7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
The gospel according to Mark is the shortest and seemingly least precise of the 4 gospels in the New Testament. Because the book’s content matches over 90% of what is in the other 3, historians are convinced that it was written first and possibly used as a reference by the authors of the other three (Matthew, Luke, John). John Mark (Mark’s full name) is recorded as having been a travelling companion with Paul, later Peter, and again with Paul. His residence and family was known as being somewhat wealthy and in the middle of all the action of the first Christian church. It is possible that he knew Jesus but that cannot be confirmed or denied. Other historical texts reveal John Mark as a travelling companion, fellow missionary, and even interpreter in some cases. It is speculated that his mother’s house was a base of operations for some time and could have been the “upper room” referred to in the bible.
The purpose of this writing was to inform the Gentiles of who Jesus is and what He did on earth. The reason it is not as detailed as the others is because Mark left out all the Jewish tradition and ties that Jesus had because to the Gentiles, it wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference (including geneology). It appears Mark gathered the majority of his information from Peter and the other apostles since it doesn’t seem he was a regular follower of Jesus during his life on earth. The main theme that Mark tries to display is Jesus’ actions of service. Since we are all called as followers of Christ to be servants, this is a good book for us to study in regards to Jesus as our example of how He calls us to serve God through serving others.
Mark starts his account off fast and furious. It took him 8 verses to explain what Luke did in 80. For me, this indicates that Mark is very to the point, only giving us the necessary details, so we must pay attention to what he wrote. He starts off by calling Jesus the Son of God. This needs to be clear in order to understand the work Jesus did. The original Greek word used for son, huios, is not a special word used for Jesus, rather it is a general sonship word used for any of the children of God from Adam to Abraham, to Jesus, to you and me. This is powerful as it relates to us. As we just read through Acts, while Jesus paid the price for us, God used Him to empower us to do the same things He did on earth. Let us then identify with Christ on this level instead of create a divide. Jesus is our connection to God, not a superior example we cannot achieve.
Mark puts together the prophecy of Isaiah and the ministry of John the Baptist beautifully. Many times we read this passage in Isaiah or in one of the gospel account we see John’s message, but do we ever fully understand it? What does, “make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight,” mean anyway? Mark tells us that people were coming from everywhere being baptized and confessing their sins. Our confession paves the way for Jesus’ truth to inhabit us. If we do not put ourselves in a position to receive God’s truth (even though we might not like it), then we will forever remain without Him. It’s like clearing the runway for Him to land in our hearts. Our confession is a realization of our own sinfulness and separation from God.
One of the hurdles we have in our relationship with God is we don’t realize there is a relationship to be had in the first place. In most relationships, it starts when we consciously begin the relationship. Yet in our relationship with God, we are separated at birth by sin. Some children are separated at birth from their biological parents. I have heard that those children, even if they are not told they were separated at birth, feel a sort of disconnect as a result. There is constantly this longing and emptiness inside them that they might not necessarily know or understand what they are searching for, but they feel incomplete and spend their lives searching for it. Friends, in our spiritual life we are searching to be reconnected with God our Father.
Jesus had the advantage of not being separated at birth. He felt separated on the cross, which is why He cried out about His Father forsaking Him. We are born with that feeling, whether we recognize it or not. We spend our lives trying to fill what I call the “God shaped hole” in our lives: the emptiness we feel because we are not connected with Him. We try to fill it with other things but nothing quite fits right, like an almost correct puzzle piece that we force into the space hoping it will satisfy us but it doesn’t. Once we finally discover and recognize the divide, we can begin our new relationship with Him and we can be as close to God the Father as Jesus was and is.