I love to tell the story, ’tis pleasant to repeat,
What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet;
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.
For the past eight weeks we have been studying a letter. We all know how a letter is to be read. It has an introduction as to who the author is who the recipient is and fairly early on we get the purpose of the letter.
Today we are going to begin to study the gospel according to Mark. The gospels are a completely different type of literature and a little more challenging when finding its author, its audience and the intent. For the 1st century audience the gospel genre was brand new. Before we begin we need a little historical background to have in front of us as we explore this book. The gospel was written in the aftermath of a great fire in Rome that some suspected was caused by Caesar Nero. To avert suspicion Nero blamed Christians. He would clothe them in the skins of wild animals and then have feral dogs tear into them. This first audience under immense persecution, had little background as to the traditions and history of God’s redeeming work with Israel. Mark under the guiding hand of Peter tells the story of Jesus to Christians suffering fierce persecution. As you might imagine the first audience would have been brought great comfort and hope in hearing the story of the heroic work of God through His son Jesus Christ.
The story of Jesus in the gospels are likened to a biography in that they are focused on a heroic figure and explore his ancestry, teaching or philosophy, his manner of life, his virtues and how he died. Yet the gospels are not disinterested history, they are not simply biographies. The gospels are concerned with this world and the next. They focus in on the consummation or complete history of the world. The gospels proclaim God’s saving work and make many claims beyond a biography. The gospels claim all human history is consummated in Jesus. Jesus brought the kingdom of God to earth. Jesus is the ultimate model for humanity. Jesus nature is beyond human. Jesus is not just a figure in the past but is living in the present.
Now we will begin the greatest story ever told. The true story of Jesus Christ the Son of God. Our aim, to believe on Him who he sent, to confess that He is the Christ the Son of the living God, and to follow the manner and way of life of the gospel’s hero, Jesus.
The Beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. The promise fulfilled, the way prepared, His greatness proclaimed.
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.[a]2 As it is written
100’s of years has passed since the prophets spoke forth God’s word to the people of Israel. In the absence of God’s prophetic word, the religious leaders have elevated themselves and their traditions above God’s word. The Scribes and Pharisees had the final say as to the faith and practice of God’s people according to their interpretation of the law and their own traditions.
Whenever we leave the authority of God’s word we will soon enough elevate ourselves and our own rules as the final authority.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[a] may be complete, equipped for every good work.
You can imagine an electric excitement among God’s people with the announcement of the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news that God’s Messiah, the anointed one is coming as promised in God’s Word.
You can further imagine fear and trepidation among God’s people who have profaned His name, who have worshiped idols, who have relegated God’s word as secondary to their positions and traditions.
The announcement: according to God’s promises in the prophets the Christ is coming, You will know the Messiah is coming, the messenger is coming to prepare His way, The Holy One will soon be upon you.
2 Corinthians 1:20
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory
The Pharisees would have objected to John the Baptist’s claim that Israelite’s needed Baptism. Baptism in that day was for Gentiles they would say, not for those born of Abraham they were clean by birth right. None the less all the people of Judea and Jerusalem came to be Baptized confessing sin. The Holy One, the Christ, the Son of God is coming, ready yourselves. John is preparing the way by preparing the people for the coming Christ.
The Christ is coming, the appearance and lifestyle of John the Baptist would have reminded them of the prophets of Old, further confirming the coming Christ.
How do you approach the Lord’s day? Do you casually gather in the school gym just like any other person might on say a Monday? Have you come with an expectation that when the Lord’s people gather under God’s word, That God Himself is speaking and that Jesus Christ the Holy anointed Son of God is present? That the Kingdom of God is at hand? Have you prepared yourself for the Holy? In the 19th chapter of Exodus God was going to come down on the mountain and be present with His people. Look at His instructions to Moses, the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot;[a] whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments.In the presence of the Lord Jesus we too should be a consecrated people. Consecration is, by definition, simply this, an association with the sacred or Holy. The Christ is coming You will soon be in the presence of the Holy. So, as you approach the gathering of God’s people on the Lord’s day are you prepared to associate with the Holy One? Or is this just a thing you do once a week, a place you go? How do we respond to the impending presence of the Holy One of God? Repentance and faith- the preparation for the Holy.
The Israelites would certainly and understandably have been excited to see that God was again speaking to His people through a prophet. Here comes John wearing outrageous garb and eating locusts, our God is once again meeting with His people. We should notice that John the Baptist fulfills his ministry by preparing the way of the Lord and then gets out of the way. God is certainly at work in sending His messenger, John might say but don’t get
excited about me get excited about the One I am pointing you to. Everyone wore sandals in that day. You can imagine how dirty feet were. The religious
leaders wouldn’t even stoop down to untie their own sandals because of the filth. John say’s I am unworthy to untie the sandals of the One who I am proclaiming. Mightier is He. Greater is His Baptism. His Baptism is complete. His Baptism is enabling through the empowering Holy Spirit of God. My Baptism would have to be done again and again. Don’t get excited about me Christ, the Holy anointed Son of God is bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God.
Like John the Baptist the ministry of every Christian is to tell the story of Jesus. The reality of God’s work in Christ. And then get out of the way and point people to the One who came. The One who is coming again. The Apostle John say’s 1John 4 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
Are you and I living with the expectancy of the Lord’s return? How might church life be different if we had an expectancy that the Lord was present with us in our gathering that He has indeed come? We might come to church prepared to meet the Holy One! How might we live if we expect the Christ is coming back in the same way He left? Titus 2:11-1411 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
We might live self-controlled, upright and godly lives today!