There is only one gospel but the first four New Testament books portray that one gospel through four different perspectives. Over the next weeks, join me in exploring Mark, a straightforward action-packed account of the life of Jesus Christ commencing with the ministry of John the Baptist and concluding with the Resurrection.
I don’t intend to examine every verse but rather highlight some of the insights God portrays in this 16 chapter gospel.
Today – Prepare The Way
Mark launches into his account with a summary statement – “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Some of our ‘neat’ categories in study outlines are contradicted by textual study. John portrays Jesus as the Son of God but here is Mark making the same claim in the opening sentence.
The gospel is about JESUS CHRIST. Our teaching, preaching, witnessing must be Christ-centred. We are called to portray Jesus Christ, His person and work on behalf of sinners. Too often we hear more about the gifts than the giver. O to live a Christ-centred life in 2016. The Spirit of God leads the people of God to the Son of God. Sadly, so much of what is described as the work of the Spirit, actually detracts from Jesus Christ. Remember the good news to be shared is all about Jesus – not just His birth, but His life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension. So many love the Christmas story with its baby in a manger, worshipful shepherds and magi (some time later), but neglect to read the rest of Christ’s life.
Mark launches his gospel account with quotes from Malachi and Isaiah. Matthew isn’t the only gospel writer to quote Old Testament prophecies. The well-worn “It is written…”may be found throughout the pages of the gospels and in most of the epistles as New Testament writers cite support for their arguments from Old Testament sources.
Application-wise, we are called to know the entire Bible. How literate are you in Old Testament books? I’m sure we all know the highlights, the ‘big’ stories which we may have learned through years of Sunday School curriculum, but can we articulate the essence of each of the 39 Old Testament books. In addition to Bible reading, work on a plan of careful study of sections of Scripture and discover afresh the riches of God’s revealed word.
What does Mark cite? Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3
Malachi – God’s ‘messenger’ for that is what his name means, portrays God’s promise of a messenger, sent ahead to prepare the way.
Isaiah – This messenger, in a remote location (namely the desert) urges preparation for the Lord’s coming.
In the historical context, John the Baptist is God’s promised messenger and Jesus Christ is the Lord for whom extensive preparation was made. In terms of application, those who know God are His messengers and our calling is to be prepared ourselves and urges others to prepare for the Lord’s coming.
I guess our Sunday School leaders nailed it as they urged us to sing the SS chorus ‘Running Over.’
Telling others, telling others, My life’s work is telling others. Since the Lord saved me, I’m as busy as can be. My life’s work is telling others!
What do you have in common with Isaiah, Malachi and John the Baptist? A life work of writing, speaking and serving God. May 2016 find us engaging all the means at our disposal to do just that! You’ll be writing with your life – “The Gospel according to ___________.”