Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Gospel Of Mark, Part 2 - Get Yourselves Ready

2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ ”

4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:2-8

In this passage we are introduced to John the Baptist, the messenger who was sent before Jesus to prepare the way. Here we must ask the question, what was it that John did ,and how did he prepare the way for Jesus to come and begin His ministry?

We are told in verse four that John was baptizing and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And in verse five we see that many were going to the Jordan river to be baptized by him and were confessing their sins.

So what we are seeing here is the people of Judea and Jerusalem coming out to John and being baptized by him as an outward public sign that they had repented of their sin and turned their hearts to God. The word Repent here comes from the Greek word metánoia, which literally means to change your mind. What this is telling us is that repentance involves thinking differently about your sin.

Think of it this way, when you repent you no longer view sin as being a minor stumble or as just being a mistake; you actually have a change of mind whereby you now see your sin as God sees your sin. In other words you now see your sin as the hideous, ugly affront to God's holiness and sovereignty that it truly is. You have a change of mind which then manifests itself in a change of direction - you turn your back on your sin, and you walk away from it, but more importantly you don't just walk away from your sin, you walk toward God.

We can see this concept more clearly spelled out in the following verses:
Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.
Acts 14:15 (Emphasis added)
And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles — to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’
Acts 26:15-18 (Emphasis added)

For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,
1 Thessalonians 1:9 (Emphasis added)

This is what John was teaching the people of that day, and the text tells us that he was preparing the way for the Lord; he was making the paths straight and calling the people to repentance (which, as we will soon see is the same message that Jesus preached). But this is not the only thing that John did; he did not just call the people to repentance (as important as that is) - he glorified Christ. Notice verses seven and eight; here we see that when John preached he said:
After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
John did not live his life to gain popularity, prestige, or power; he lived his life for one purpose only - to glorify Christ. That is an example we would all do well to follow.

There is one more thing that I want to point out in this passage that we might otherwise miss; verse two begins with the words "As it is written..." This is a good reminder to us that what we read here in the gospels regarding the life and ministry of Jesus was prophesied hundreds of years before it actually happened. For example, what we are reading right to the beginning of Mark's Gospel is the fulfillment of what the prophet Isaiah had written 700 years earlier. Several times throughout the gospels we read things like "as it was written" and this is to remind us that God does what He says He will do. We can take great comfort in the fact that God does what He says He will do and that all of His promises will be fulfilled. But we can also take this as a warning and and be assured that just as He fulfilled the prophesies concerning the birth and ministry of Jesus He will also fulfill the prophesies concerning the Second Coming of Jesus and His final judgment against sin; the Bible clearly teaches:
And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,
Hebrews 9:27
And it says:
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
Galatians 6:7
All prophesy will be fulfilled.

Yes, God will judge sin; each of us will either experience God's wrath ourselves, or we will come to Him through Jesus Christ who died on the cross and became sin for us. He took the wrath of God in the place of everyone who comes to Him in repentance and faith. As I have said before, This is the Gospel! That is what John preached, that is what Jesus preached, and that is what this book is all about.

Next time we will cover verses 9-11 of chapter 1 as we look at the baptism of Jesus.
Print This Post

No comments: