The good news about who? – 1.1-3
Marks gospel starts with a pronouncement of good news. It is not general but particular about a person. The good news is developed with 4 ideas –
- Messiah – the promised king that the people of God had been waiting for. The promised one in the line of David whose kingdom would last forever. In this kingdom is found peace, hope, joy, and the fulfilment of the promises of God. This is good news.
- Son of God – the author of Mark goes one step further to call him the Son of God. This theme of sonship is developed as the gospel continues. For those who originally read it the title would have raised some confusion and a little bit of anger. TO be the Son is to claim equality with the Father. To be God. The author of Mark makes the intention and truth clear from the beginning. It is an introduction but he is telling us the conclusion in the first line.
- Written in the prophet Isaiah – the quote comes from Isaiah 40.3. Isaiah has the constant feel of looking forward to something more to come. A king to come, the prince of peace, the one all humanity is longing for. The quote from Isaiah helps us to see where we are in biblical history and to hint at what is to come.
- the Lord – John the baptist is the one preparing the way for ‘the Lord’. Invoking the title of God the great I am, Yahweh who bound himself with his people that he would be there God and they would be his people. The Lord who has made promises and is faithful to keeping his promises. This is good news for in Jesus this Lord who has promised to redeem all is here.
John the baptist preparing the way for the one to come – 1.4-8
John the baptist story and life is more developed in other gospels. Here in Mark his purpose is made clear that he has come preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins. I love John as a bold character who seems to be crazy, where strange clothes, and be on an intense diet. The power of his message was not in him but in the promise of the one to come. Every time I read about John I am reminded that sharing the promises of God is not about me but about the one who has already come. For john he was preparing the way and for us we point to the one who is the way.
An interesting part of Johns story is that his preaching was primarily concerned with repentance and forgiveness of sins. This was his way of preparing the way for the Lord. That the people needed to know their true state in order to receive the Lord. I feel this battle when I am chatting with someone that I need to show them they are sinful in order for them to hear the gospel. There have been times when i am chatting to youth about Jesus dying for them and their response is why would he do that because I am doing fine. Sharing the gospel means revealing the truth of humanities sinfulness. This doesn’t mean walking around pointing out everyones sins. It means being honest about our own sin and helping people to see Jesus forgiveness of our sins.
Sometimes I fear helping people see they are sinful because I am afraid to offend them. So I try and express to them the wonder of forgiveness in the grace of Jesus. I fear being that fire and brimstone guy so I become the flakey freedom guy. If we only speak of sin then all we produce is fear and if we only speak of forgiveness all we produce is apathy. We, like John, need to speak of both. For it is only when we realise we are lost in a desert that we long for water, only when we understand the truth of our lives that we truly long for forgiveness as more then get out of hell card.
Sin is real, forgiveness is wonderful. May we hold them both out in wonderful tension.