"1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way." ~ Mark 1:1-2
Today, we begin a study of the Gospel according to Mark. There are two overall themes of the Gospel according to Mark: From 1:1-8:26 we see the Servant who Rules and from Mark 8:27-16:16 we see the Ruler who Serves.
The beginning of Mark's gospel is quite different than the other three gospel accounts. Mark leaves out the genealogies that are included in the gospels according to Matthew and Luke. He doesn't begin way back in eternity past like John begins his gospel when he said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Mark just says, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Now, the word gospel means great news. Unfortunately, many people do not see Christianity as good news; they see it as bad news. And, this is largely due to the fact that most people are not aware of the bad news that we have been separated from God by our sinfulness which we were born with. And, since we have been separated from God by our sinful condition, we are destined for Hell.
In John 3:17-18 we read, "17 God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him. 18 People who believe in God’s Son are not judged guilty. Those who do not believe have already been judged guilty, because they have not believed in God’s one and only Son."
In v.2 of today's passage we read, "... as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.'"
In this verse, Mark quotes Isaiah 40:3 which predicted that John the Baptist would come baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Isaiah predicted this some 700 years before John burst on the scene. And, think of it, John's mother and father were at least 60 years old when John was conceived.
Mark, in v.1, tells us that John the Baptist's message was the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ.
Many people struggled with John the Baptist because his message was so harsh. In fact, his message consisted of three parts: sin, guilt, and fear. But, the people of John's day, as we will see, flocked to hear his message. This was due to the fact that the insincerity of Judaism had prepared them for that which was really real.
The first part of John's message was about sin which is primarily self-centeredness. We were made by God to be defined by Him. When He defines us, we are given to being others-centered. But sin has twisted God's plan, so that now, instead of reaching out, we reach in, and we love ourselves. And sin always produces guilt. the second part of John's message. Guilt is dislike of ourselves. We do not like the fact that we hurt others, & we feel guilty about it. And, as a result we grow to hate ourselves.
Guilt is always accompanied by fear, because fear is self-distrust. Fear produces the inability to handle life. As soon as Adam & Eve sinned they felt guilt and they hid in fear. This lack that we all know to be within is what drove all these people out of Jerusalem. And as they heard John, they found relief. This is why they traveled so many miles to hear John's message.
So, John the Baptist was used of God to prepare the way for the arrival of the Messiah, and, as we will see, once his mission was over, God took him home. John's good news was that God had broken into history to provide salvation, and blessing, through the sacrifice of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.