Mark 1: 1 – “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” NKJV
As we begin our study in the book of Mark, I believe it will be helpful to look at the author of the book. Since traditionally the author of this book is John Mark, then that is how we will flow with it.
John Mark is first mentioned in Acts 12, where Peter had been rescued from prison by an angel:
And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.” So, when he had considered this, he came to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, where many were gathered together praying.Acts 12:11-12 NKJV
The saints had gathered to pray at John Mark’s house because Peter had been placed in prison. Mary, his mother, probably opened her home for some type of church gathering to new believers, or maybe just for prayer in this instance. Whatever the reason, they were all gathered at her home. Peter knew to go there when he was released from prison to share his testimony lending to the thought that he visited there frequently. In the first epistle bearing his name, he referred to Mark as his son (1 Peter 5:13).
At the end of chapter 12 in the book of Acts, Mark travels with Paul and Barnabas for ministry:
And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.Acts 12:25 NKJV
In chapter 13, John Mark was referred to as their assistant (4), but when they arrived in Antioch, John returns to Jerusalem (13). In Acts 14, Barnabas wants John Mark to return to traveling with them, but Paul is against it. As a result Paul takes on Silas, and Barnabas takes Mark as they head in different directions to share the gospel. This is easy to understand, when we realize that Barnabas and Mark are cousins:
Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him)Colossians 4:10 NKJV
In the gospel of Mark, we see the word “immediately” appearing frequently. That’s because Mark focuses in on the works of Jesus and His quick response of compassion to those around Him. Mark presents Jesus as the Servant of God, who responds quickly to the will of the Father. Mark also shows Jesus in constant motion as He displays His power and authority over the devil; which also demonstrates and proves He is the Son of God!
Let’s look again at our key text:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of GodMark 1:1 NKJV
Mark begins this book with the ministry of Jesus. In these simple words he says a lot:
- He is starting at the beginning of the gospel
- Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One
- Jesus is the Son of God
It is believed that the gospel of Mark was written to Gentiles and therefore has little references to the things that were important to the Jews; the genealogy of the Christ, the prophecies that were fulfilled by Him, or the traditions and customs that were important to them. It is also believed that this was the first written account of the gospels and as such, is a collection of things that John Mark heard from Peter and others. So the focus in this book, is the gospel of Jesus Christ! The good news about Him and the good news that He brings!
Mark begins his narrative by introducing us to John the Baptist and he tells us several things about John:
As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.” “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’ ”Mark 1:2-3 NKJV
- John the Baptist was a special messenger of God
- He was sent to prepare the way before Jesus
- He would be in the wilderness crying out to the people
- John fulfilled this prophetic declaration as prophesied
Mark then explains what this prophecy looked like in reality, how John made the way for Jesus:
John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.Mark 1:4 -5 NKJV
John’s ministry consisted of getting people to realize that they were in a sinful state and they needed to repent. Even though they realized that they were sinners, even though they realized they needed to confess their sins and be baptized for the remission of their sins, these people had yet to meet Jesus, and had yet to hear the good news that He came to give them! But they are being prepared to know that the Day of Atonement, the once a year sacrifice for their sins, wasn’t giving them the assurance that they needed or desired for peace in their souls! But it was coming!
Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”Mark 1:6-9 NKJV
Mark describes John as a prophet who was clothed in a garment made of camel’s hair and he ate locust and wild honey. John the Baptist was in essence identifying as an Old Testament prophet while ending the tenure of Old Testament prophets. Things were changing, and Mark is showing how John’s ministry catapulted the way for the ministry of Jesus!
John said this about Jesus:
- He was coming after John
- He was more powerful than John
- John felt unworthy to untie His shoestrings; so John was submitting himself to the One who was coming
- John said that while he was baptizing with water, the One coming would baptize them with the Holy Spirit!
As we go into this study of Mark, my plan is to share more of the big picture, the events; not necessarily the verse by verse movement of Jesus. Mark is the shortest gospel, but it contains 18 of the 30 plus miracles of Jesus. I want to focus more on Him, His messages, His accomplishments, and what it means for us as His followers!
This is the starting point of the gospel of Mark! Stay tuned as we revisit the life and service of our Savior, Jesus, the Son of God! So get ready, get set, let’s go! Wonderful Jesus!