Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mark 1:1-8 - John the Baptist Prepares the Way for Jesus - Pete's Bible Commentary

Mark 1:1-8

1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: "I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way" 3 "a voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'" 4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Mark is down to earth. If he lived today, he would probably fit in well amongst the everyday people of our society. He writes a gospel, that shows his earthiness. He gets straight to the point; no messing about. Jesus is the Son of God. He's not just a prophet, because that would undermine the truth of what Jesus claimed. He is the good news. He is the personification of grace and salvation. He is the Son of God. I love this matter of a fact kind of writing that Mark employs. It is easy to grasp and connect with. Today we might be inclined to write some explanatory notes and introductions before we delve into the crux of our letter, but for Mark, this is about Jesus the Christ, and he wants his readers to be clear on that point.

Mark highlights very quickly to his readers that this gospel is about Christ, the promised Messiah. He then quickly links Jesus with Old Testament Scriptures and prophets, noting Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3, and he is also quick to link Christ to John the Baptist. Hurtado writes that the work is written, 'not from the standpoint of unconcerned historical observance but with deeply religious interests in mind' (1983: 15). In fact, Mark is making the point that Jesus did not just pop up onto the scene, but is actually the fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy. He is one sent from God for the redemption of humanity.

Interestingly, the reference from Malachi 3:1 (look at Mark 1:2), was understood by the Jewish community as a prophecy regarding the future sending of a Messiah type figure, and that the Jewish people considered Elijah (see Malachi 4:5-6) to be the one that would be sent, according to this prophecy (Hurtado, 1983: 16). So when Mark begins mentioning John the Baptist, and the clothes he wore and the food he ate, there is a conscious connection here by Mark, to connect Malachi (About Elijah) to John the Baptist and then to Jesus the Christ.

Mark builds the connection between John the Baptist and Jesus. In his matter of a fact way, Mark quotes John the Baptist as saying that while he baptizes with water, this Christ would baptize people with the Holy Spirit. If I could offer a powerful contemporary hermeneutic here, it would be the challenge to come before Christ and be baptized in the Holy Spirit. Baptize meaning 'immersed into', and like John the Baptist immersed people into water, we can come before Christ and be filled with the Holy Spirit.


Hurtado, Larry W. (1983). New International Biblical Commentary: Mark. Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers & Paternoster Press.


Mark 1:1-8 - 'John the Baptist Prepares the Way for Jesus' is part of Pete's Bible Commentary by Pete Brookshaw.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular ALL TIME Posts