The beginning of a book often sets the tone for the rest. Perhaps you may think of a book you have read in which you were gripped by the introduction, and then you paid close attention to the themes that would follow from it. Perhaps you think of a classic such as The Tale of Two Cities. Many people, even if they do not even know the rest of the story, can quote the opening line.
When it comes to the gospel accounts in Scripture, it is helpful to think of the author’s own introductions. Matthew and Luke detail the birth of Christ and the genealogies of Christ. John, calls our attention to the fact that Jesus Christ is God, and that He pre-existed even Creation itself. He has always been, and the apex of history itself is that moment in which “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Mark, however, begins with the ministry of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, and then jumps straight into the ministry of Christ. No time is spent on the birth narratives or genealogies. Mark takes us right into the action of Christ’s ministry.
Mark’s Gospel is a Gospel of immediacy. Mark takes us from one scene to the next without much time for transition. There is a sense of urgency in Mark’s message. Mark knew that he was setting Christ forth before his readers. You feel Mark’s evangelistic push throughout the Gospel. There is an utter seriousness to what Mark is doing, and the book drives us to ask these questions–1. “Who is Jesus?” And 2. “Who am I worshipping?”
As we read Mark, we see that Jesus Christ is the Son of God become Man; we see that Jesus Christ is the authoritative Lord, and that Jesus Christ is the compassionate Savior; we see that Jesus Christ is the condemned and crucified sin-bearer; we see that Jesus Christ is the risen King. Mark answers our first question. The second question is one we must ask ourselves. Are we bowing before the majesty of Christ, or are we seeking life some other way? We see in Mark 1:1-11 that Jesus is in fact the great Savior of sinners. We must look unto Him for life.
As Mark introduces the book, he opens with the statement, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” (Mark 1:1) Mark is showing us just whose Gospel this is. It is not Mark’s Gospel, but good news from God, himself — good news to a world lost in sin. Jesus Christ is the One who will lay down his life for sinners so that they might live.
Mark also gives us a glimpse into the ministry of John the Baptist. John the Baptist is the one who will point others to Christ, and he is indeed a great prophet. But Mark wants us to see that Jesus is greater than John the Baptist. Many were tempted to view John the Baptist as the Christ, but John himself would say, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” (1:7) Mark and John direct us to the One who is greater that we may put all our confidence in Him.
Mark concludes his introduction, with Jesus’ baptism. We see how He identifies with His own people, and we are directed to His saving work at the Cross and resurrection. As the heavens are torn open, we are reminded that this Christ also by His blood tore the veil that stood between us and the throne of grace.
Mark’s message is urgent. From its opening lines, the action unfolds, apace, toward the great redemptive work of Christ. There is an utter seriousness to in what Mark has written, confronting us with the question, “How urgent is the gospel?” Join us as we examine Mark 1:1-11 to consider the urgency of the gospel in our own lives.
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube.