Mark 1:1 ~ The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;
Who is Jesus?
This is a clear statement. Mark addresses his subject (Jesus Christ), who the subject is (the Son of God), where we are at in this story (the beginning). The term gospel specifically means good news and often covers the ministry and purpose of Christ (i.e. the part that matters to us). While where Christ came from and the story of Mary and Joseph and all others involved can be beneficial in identifying him, Mark is concerned with what matters to us directly. For those of us who like to get the facts, this is the gospel that is going to be the most appealing to us. Let's break down the words identifying the subject to get a greater understanding:
Basically, if you are reading about Jesus the first time, Mark lays who he is out with all the appropriate qualifiers. Jesus is the God of salvation, but he is also the physical offspring of God Almighty and is anointed, which refers to the Holy Spirit. This ties all of the three manifestations of God into the one being (Colossians 2:9).
Beyond all of this, we also see that the author of this gospel does not refer to himself. He ascribes this gospel as Jesus. This may seem a small thing, but consider that most of the other writers of the other books of the Bible identify themselves at some point. For Mark, this story is all about Jesus. Christ is the author Mark is just a vessel. All of these ideas are packed into 12 words. That's amazing!
Mark 1:2-3 ~ As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
The man before The Man
These two verses don't refer to Christ but to John the Baptist. However, they are important to the origin of Christ. One, they reference prophecies that concern his coming. In order for Christ to come, God would send forth a forerunner to prepare people for His arrival. This is referenced from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. By referencing these prophecies from two prophets from two different time periods, it helps to confirm Christ's validity (Deuteronomy 19:15). So these prophecies and Mark's mentioning them gives validity to the story he is about to tell. So who was John the Baptist?
John is mentioned in all four gospels. He occurs early in the gospel of John as well. The Beloved Disciple even goes into greater detail about The Baptist than Mark. However, Mark makes sure to begin his story by focusing on the forerunner rather than just referencing him. Here are some of the thoughts from Mark on John the Baptist and how it relates to our condition and relationship with Jesus.
As mentioned earlier, he was foretold of by prophets, men who carried the voice of God within them (v. 2-3). What has God spoken into our lives, whether in prayer, the Word, the voice of a messenger or His own direct voice?
He was a man of action and sacrifice (v. 4, 6). What actions and sacrifices have we taken and made for God's Kingdom? What can we do to act and sacrifice for God in the future?
Like Mark, he knew that he wasn't the center of the story (v. 7). Do we know when to get out of the way of God? How can we get out of His way when He shows up to take charge.
He had an understanding that something greater was going to happen beyond his actions (v. 8). Do we have a vision of what God is looking to do in our lives and the lives of others around us?
Jesus came to him to be blessed (v. 9). God will let us bless Him if we do His will. Will we take that opportunity? Look how John approached this privileged in the other gospels to see how we should bless gospel.
He faced persecution and even death (v. 14). Will we do the same when our time comes?
Be The Forerunner
So we see this story of Christ start with the announcement of Jesus and who he was and is. Mark then turns his focus briefly to a humble and sacrificing man. A man who recognized Christ and who he was and is. This shows us the type of person we need to be if we want to be effective in the Kingdom of God. If the man who came before Christ would live a life of sacrifice and action and humbly offer himself to the purpose of God, it speaks to us our purpose and living in Christ. To the world around us, we are John the Baptist. We are the forerunner to Christ. That is what witnessing is: preparing the way for God to show up and change lives. If we will understand Christ and His mission and take on the roll of spreading the gospel and preparing the way for Him, we will not only see people won to God. We will see things we never thought or knew were possible in God's Kingdom. We will understand God in ways that many do not. We will be his vessel, just as Mark and John were.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.