God’s Word Goes Forth: Spread Tidings of Joy to Everyone
Mark 1:1-13: The opening of Mark’s Gospel is a prologue that sets the stage for Jesus’ public ministry. John the Baptist appears in the desert, calling the people to turn from their sins and be baptized. John baptized people with water to symbolize their old way of life being washed away. Jesus is baptized by John; and following his baptism, he is sent by the Spirit into the desert where he is tempted by Satan.
Today's Scripture: Mark 1:4
So John appeared in the desert, baptizing and preaching. “Turn away from your sins and be baptized,” he told the people, “and God will forgive your sins.”
1 This is the Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 It began as the prophet Isaiah had written: “God said, ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you to open the way for you.’ 3 Someone is shouting in the desert, ‘Get the road ready for the Lord; make a straight path for him to travel!’” 4 So John appeared in the desert, baptizing and preaching. “Turn away from your sins and be baptized,” he told the people, “and God will forgive your sins.” 5 Many people from the province of Judea and the city of Jerusalem went out to hear John. They confessed their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothes made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 7 He announced to the people, “The man who will come after me is much greater than I am. I am not good enough even to bend down and untie his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. ” 9 Not long afterward Jesus came from Nazareth in the province of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 As soon as Jesus came up out of the water, he saw heaven opening and the Spirit coming down on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my own dear Son. I am pleased with you.” 12 At once the Spirit made him go into the desert, 13 where he stayed forty days, being tempted by Satan. Wild animals were there also, but angels came and helped him.
Imagine you are someone living in the first century, hearing Mark’s Gospel for the first time. Upon hearing the first verse, what might your expectations be? What would be “Good News?” What “good news” can you offer someone today? Verses 2 and 3 are a conflation of Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. How does John the Baptist fulfill what was spoken by the prophets? Describe what happens at Jesus’ baptism. What does the voice from heaven say?
Lord God, create in me a clean heart and help me to turn away from sin. Open my ears to hear the “Good News,” and prepare my heart to welcome and receive your beloved Son. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Those in need of encouragement
John 1:19-34: The religious leaders inquire about John the Baptist’s identity.