We are looking at four messengers ("angels") that are sharing their story of Christ coming to this world. Last week we considered Matthews message. Matthew wrote his Gospel with the Jewish perspective in mind. He showed the genealogy of Messiah, so that the proper pedigree could be established. Matthew went to great lengths to show the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, to further establish the rightful claim of Jesus as the Christ. Matthew emphasized Christ as King - the King of the Jews! Today, we will consider Mark's message.
Mark: The Birth of God's Righteous Servant
Mark wrote with the Roman / Gentile people in mind. His book is short and full of action. The key word, in Mark, is "straightway" or "immediately." This Gospel says more of Christ's deeds than of his teachings. It has less references to the Old Testament than Matthew. Mark's emphasis is on Christ as the suffering servant. The key verse is Mark 10:45. In Isaiah 53:11, Jehovah refers to the Messiah as "My Righteous Servant." More will be said of Isaiah's testimony at the end of this lesson.
In this Gospel of the suffering servant, Mark reveals more details about the humanity of Jesus than the other Gospel writers. Mark details the emotions, mannerisms, human needs, and limitations of the man, Jesus Christ. See Mark 1:41; 3:5; 4:38; 6:34; 7:33-34; 8:12; 9:36; 10:13-16; 11:12; 13:32 cp. Philippians 2:5-11; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 2:9-18; 4:14-16; 12:2-3; Romans 15:3; I Peter 2:21-24.
The Beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God - Mark 1:1-15
Mark choses to not cover the details of Christ's birth. Rather, he goes directly to the public ministry of Jesus Christ. Mark is emphasizing that the importance of Jesus' birth is found in what He did with His life - His mission and His message.
Mark 1:1-8 - Preparations by John the Baptist.
The prophets (Malachi 3:1; Isaiah 40:3-5) foretold of one who would come to announce the coming of Messiah and to prepare people to receive Him in a true spirit of repentance. This forerunner of Christ is none other than John the Baptist (John the Baptizer). Malachi further describes John as one who would come in the spirit and manner of Elijah. See Malachi 4:5-6; Luke 1:13-17; Mark 9:11-13 cp. Matthew 17:10-13.
As John preached, he also baptized those who repented. Please note that John did not preach that baptism provided remission of sins. Note: "…repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4-5; Luke 24:46-47; Acts 3:19).
As stated before, John's appearance, demeanor, and wilderness ministry resembled the life and ministry of Elijah (Mark 1: 4-6). John did not seek to draw attention to himself. He wanted to point people to the Christ and cause others to follow Him. (Mark 1:7 cp. John 1:6-8, 15-37; 3:22-36)
John's baptizing with water was indicative of Christ's baptizing with the Holy Spirit, which would happen at Pentecost and thereafter, to all those who believe on Christ. (Mark 1:8 cp. John 7:37-39; 14:16-20; 15:26; 16:7; Acts 1:1-5; 2:1-4; I Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:12-14)
Please note: The Spirit does not baptize. Christ baptizes with the Spirit, just as John baptized (immersed) with water.
Mark 1:9-11 - Presentation of Christ at His Baptism.
Other people came to John confessing their sins. They repented (i.e. changed their minds about sin) and identified with their Holy Lord, who was calling His people together to serve Him on earth in His spiritual kingdom (Mark 1:15). Christ had no sins to confess. Rather, at His baptism, He was identifying with those who were repenting and preparing to follow Him.
Through baptism, we publicly confess Christ and identify with Him. We are obeying His command and separating from this world, preparing to walk with the Lord in newness of life. See Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 6:4-5; Colossians 2:6-12.
John also saw the Spirit of God, as a dove, descending upon Christ and heard the voice of the Father confessing that Jesus was His Son (John 1:29-34).
Mark 1:12-13 - Prayer, Fasting, and Spiritual Warfare.
It was now time for Jesus to be tested and to do battle with the Devil. God, who gave witness to John of the blessedness of the Son of God, also drove His Son out into the wilderness to go through hardships. Christ fasted and prayed for forty days. When the Devil might have thought Christ was His weakest, Christ was at His strongest. Christ not only fulfilled all righteousness, but also showed us how to defeat Satan through the Spirit of Christ and His Word. In order to resist Satan, we must be steadfast in the faith. See Matthew 4:1-11 cp. James 4:6-10; I Peter 5:6-10; Revelation 12:9-11.
Mark 1:14-15 - Public Ministry Begins.
John's ministry is going to be concluding in a short while. Christ's ministry is going to take the forefront. Two key elements are mentioned in this passage:
- The Kingdom of God - All of our focus is not about going to heaven when we die. That is a glorious comfort, but we must focus on God's will being done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-13). The Kingdom of God is where God rules in the hearts of men, here on earth.
- The Gospel - "Gospel means "Good News." The "Good News" is that God has kept His promise to send us a Savior, who will deliver us from sin and Satan's deceptive power. See Luke 24:44-48; I Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 1:1-7; 16:25-27; Galatians 1:1-5; 3:13-14; 4:4-6.
- The Gospel is God's power to change people's hearts and lives (Romans 1:14-17).
- The Gospel must be used in the power of the Holy Spirit and kept pure (I Corinthians 2:1-5; Galatians 1:6-12; Jude 3).
Please note the "Servant songs" in Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13 - 53:12.