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The Gospel According to Mark

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The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God

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Pastor Dave à Read Scripture and Pray à
The Gospel of Mark. The Good News about Jesus Christ, the Son of God
Mark 1:1–11 ESV
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 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.” 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Good morning, my name is Kyle and I’m one of the pastor’s here at Rock Hill. If you are new, I’m so glad that you decided to join us this morning.
We are beginning a series through the Gospel of Mark that is going to span the whole school year. We will finish in May of next year as we slowly walk through this incredible story of the Life of Jesus.
So, to do that well, I’m going to need to lay down some groundwork…to answer some questions about the author, the occasion for writing this story of Jesus’ live, his purpose in writing, and even when he wrote it down.
Because this gospel, is written with a very specific agenda. It is arranged the way that it is, not only because it tells us the truth about Jesus’ life, ministry and purposes, but also to help the reader come to a certain conclusion about Jesus.
And, lest you think Mark is trying to be subtle, sneaky, or overly clever…he tells us right away what his conclusion is…but now I’m getting ahead of myself.

Who is Mark?

· John Mark that we see pop up all over the New Testament. A man who was very involved in the NT church, but almost always as a helper or right hand man to someone else’s ministry…not the main or key leader.
· His mother way Mary à A woman of some means, a follower of Jesus whose house was used in Jerusalem for the early gathering of the church. In fact, he home very likely would have been the location of the “Upper Room” referred to in the gospel.
o If you’re not very familiar with the story, it is the place where Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples the night before he died. It was also the place where the early church was gathering for prayer in when the Holy Spirit came and changed everything. It was certainly the place where the church was gathered in , praying for the Apostle Peter and his release from prison.
o Why does this matter? It matters because the events that he was writing about would have been about a lot of things that he experienced firsthand. He was an eyewitness to much of what he wrote.
· Additionally, he was a cousin of Barnabas à a prominent leader in the early church. In fact, he traveled with the Apostle Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. He in fact, is infamous for his desertion of them in the middle of the trip. This lead to a pretty significant parting of ways in à where Paul took Silas one way, and Barnabas went with John Mark in another direction.
o I love how the NT doesn’t hide the flaws of it’s key leaders or people! Why would it though, because at the heart of the gospel and God’s work in the world is the reality that he uses imperfect people like Mark, like Paul, like you and me.
· In fact, Paul and Mark eventually reconciled and Mark was restored to significant ministry. Which ties significantly into this gospel. Toward the end of his life, Mark was the right hand man or scribe of none other than Peter the Apostle, when he was in Rome.
o In fact, this is tremendously important when considering his gospel. Some people like to call it in part: The Gospel According to Peter, because it contains a special focus on Peter…most often bumbling around and making a fool of himself. But containing stories where Peter was there, and omitting stories where Peter was gone. And so, Mark wrote down much of what the essence of Peter’s accounts.
o Most scholars date this gospel to be written between 60-65AD, which makes it the first gospel written. But also puts it within 25-30 years of the events it tells.
o This is important because there were still many eyewitnesses around.
§ It would be like when the Duluth News Tribune did a story last year on the Halloween Blizzard of 1991…the epic storm that last 4 days.
§ Many of you weren’t here or even alive for that, but many of you remember it. This is important for accuracy…(legends don’t develop that fast)

Purpose and Arrangement of Mark

· Mark is by far the shortest gospel…and when you read it, it seems like he is in a hurry. The first few chapters are marked consistently by the word: immediately. “Immediately he did this, or immediately he went here…”
· Mark weaves the story of Jesus by focusing not as much on his teaching, but what he did and how he interacted with people.
· We find him regularly explaining the OT and Jewish traditions that Jesus is interacting with, which is helpful to us, but also indicates that the primary audience he is writing to is most likely not Jewish, but Gentile in background…and so some stuff needs a little explanation.
· He doesn’t begin the story of Jesus with his birth like Matthew or Luke, nor does he wax eloquent about the nature of who Jesus is like John. No, he simply starts by stating his point. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
But then, like an artist, he simply tells story after story after story, making the case that what he said in verse 1 is true…but letting the reader think about, consider the evidence and decide.
In fact, almost all of Mark is getting at 1 of 3 questions:
Who is Jesus?
Why did Jesus come?
Why did Jesus come? What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?
What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?
Let’s unpack that initial statement shall we…then we’ll move on from the overview and get into the text itself.
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
The Gospel à Gospel means literally “good news” The beginning of the good news.
· Gospel was an understood term to the people of Mark’s day.
· There were lots of gospels being announced. Often King’s or emperors would announce a “gospel” of piece of news which had implications for those who heard it.
· For example in 9 BC, the birthday of Caesar Augustus was hailed as a gospel, or a piece of good news.
· But whereas in the Roman world, Gospel was often one of many pieces of good news, Mark now says that this is THE GOOD NEWS!
Additionally à Christ isn’t Jesus’ last name but a title. Mark is making a bold claim about Jesus. He is saying, Jesus the Messiah- The promised King who would come. Jesus THE CHRIST.
Now, as if that isn’t bold enough, Mark rachets it up one more notch. Not only is this THE good news; not only is Jesus THE Messiah/Christ; Jesus is the Son of God. He is Divine!
· Now, one more thing about Mark.
· People often struggle with it’s abrupt ending. In fact, they struggled so much, that someone later most likely added 16:9-20 to emphasize, not the resurrection is a big deal too!
· To which we would be like, “Of course the resurrection is a big deal…in fact, for many of us, the air tight case of the resurrections historical accuracy is one of the main factors in our belief in the truth.
· But for Mark, when he wrote this, most of the Apostles were still alive. And their primary message was bearing witness as eyewitnesses to the resurrection. So, I think he leave it to them.
· No, the crescendo of Mark is the declaration at the end of 15 of the Roman Soldier. The Roman, gentile solider echoes the claim of chapter 1 verse 1. “Truly this man was the Son of God!”
So, Mark gets right to the point… “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God!”
And then he goes on radio silence for a while until chapter 8 à When Peter makes the bold declaration à Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”
But Mark just jumps us into the story. Which is this. Jesus’ coming was foretold for a long time.

John the Baptist (2-8)

à The fulfillment of the one promised
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ ”
And John the Baptist, lets be honest was kind of a weird dude. We are told that he was clothed with camel hair, wore a leather belt and ate bugs and honey for a diet.
What’s going on with that?
The description of John’s dress, nearly as unusual in John’s day as it would be in ours, recollects the garb of a prophet (), and particularly of the prophet Elijah, who wore “a garment of hair and a leather belt around his waist” (). The Hebrew of describes Elijah’s clothing as a shaggy, goat-haired garment, which in Mark becomes a camel’s hair robe on the Baptizer.
Edwards, J. R. (2002). The Gospel according to Mark (p. 32). Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos.
So, his dress and his diet is to mark him as coming in the authority and with the role of Elijah the most famous and honored prophet of the OT.
And his role, to prepare God’s people for the coming of the Messiah.
How did he do that? He called the people to repent, to confess their sins, and be baptized!
I don’t think I’m off in saying, John the Baptist would have probably made us uncomfortable!
· With prophetic bluntness, he just said it how it was.
· He pointed out the sin of the people, and he called them to repent of their sin, and get their hearts ready for the coming of Messiah.
· He did this with humility…realizes that he was only the herald of one far greater, he says it himself, “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 clearly stated, “I’m not the big deal, the one who is coming in the big deal.”
o Oh, how much we could learn from John.
So, John was blunt, said it how it was, but said it with humility, and yet people flocked to John. Why?
· Sometimes we wrongly think that we have to tone down our message. Make it more palatable to those we are communicating with. While I agree that we want to be winsome, what we see in the life of John the Baptist is that often the truth is offensive, but in a really attractive way.
o We as the church can learn much from John. No one wins if we don’t do our job speaking the message that has been given to us to speak.
o In fact, if we do that, the message loses it’s power to transform.
o If we just parrot what our culture already says, then we cease to Let Jesus be Lord, and we let human reason and preference guide us. When has that ever been good? NEVER!
o If you need proof, just look at the mainline denominations in our country. Many churches who used to unashamedly proclaim the gospel of Jesus, seeking to be more palatable to the culture, abandoned Jesus and are now closing left and right!
· We don’t need to be weird or rude, but we do need to maintain a prophetic edge.
· Here’s the thing. I bet most of us are not in danger of being “too weird,” we are probably more in danger of being cowards and not speaking up. We don’t want to offend people, but in trying so hard to not offend, we often say nothing at all.
Now, it will cost you something to speak, but probably not as much as it cost John the Baptist. He was killed for his bold witness.
While John had his 15 minutes of fame, he quickly passes the torch to another. Mark is just flying through this, We are not even 9 verses in, and John’s day in the sun passes as Jesus steps onto the scene. And it is quite a scene that he makes! Let’s read it, verse 9.
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son;4 with you I am well pleased.”
So many things going on here that are confusing, and yet so many things going on here that contain in them the secret to life. Let’s dive in in our remaining time.

First, Question - Why in the world does Jesus need to be baptized by John?

· Remember, it was a baptism of repentance.
· But Jesus doesn’t need that. He of all people had no need to repent.
· So, why does he do it? Matthew tells us Jesus’ reason was when John began to object was this. “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
o Well if that isn’t clear as mud. What in the world does that mean?
· Here’s what I think is going on.
o First, We learn in John’s gospel that Jesus only does what the Father wants him to do and only says what the Father wants him to say. So, the first reason Jesus is baptized is because God the Father wants him to do it. So, he obeys.
o Second, and perhaps why: Jesus is doing this to Identify with us as human beings. Identifying with sinners, even though he himself wasn’t a sinner.
o Hmm…now why is that a familiar concept.
§ Well, isn’t that the whole purpose as to why Jesus came to the earth in the first place.
§ To be sure, he came to reveal to us what God was like…but even more than that, he came to Identify with sinful humanity in order to bear our punishment and make us right with the Father.
· That final act of Identification would be the ultimate test and act of obedience for Jesus to do. Perhaps this was just a practice run, a dress rehearsal. An initial and easy step of obedience for Jesus to do to Identify with us as Sinful humanity.

Obedience is like that isn’t. When your faithful in the small steps, the initial obedience, it makes the bigger steps a lot easier.z

Obedience is like that isn’t. When your faithful in the small steps, the initial obedience, it makes the bigger steps a lot easier.

o Why? Because God is faithful to show up in the small things. We learn that he has got us.
o It’s why when we’re faithful being entrusted with small things: Small amounts of money, small positions of influence and leadership, small opportunities to serve and obey, that God entrusts us with larger things.
o It’s easier to be generous with a lot, if we’ve been generous with a little. It’s easier to use our large platforms for good if we’ve been faithful with small ones.
o The opposite is also true. It’s hard to be faithful when the stakes get higher and higher.
· Jesus was faithful in Identifying with people in the small ways, so that we know he is going to be faithful when it really counts…it really gets big.
· Before we move on, I have to ask. Is there a small area of obedience that you are delaying? Is there a little
Second HUGE thing going on here in this passage: We see what God is like. In light of this, it teaches us what we ought to be like.

1. All Members of the Trinity are present here. Why?

a. The word Trinity doesn’t exist in the Bible, but God reveals himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
b. Do you know the only other place where all 3 members of the Trinity are present? à The Father designs and wills, the son speaks in the power of the Holy Spirit.
c. Here the Father Speaks, the Spirit descends like a dove, and the son gets ready to act out the plan of Redemption.
d. Why a dove? “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” In Aramaic, which is the language that was spoken in Galilee at this time, “the spirit fluttered over the waters like a dove.”
e. So, just as the Trinity is all present at Creation, so now they are all present at the beginning of Redemption!

2. God exists in other-centered community, so should we. The best study of man, is the study of God, in whose image we are made.

a. The Father delights in the Son, the Spirit empowers the Son, the Son delights to do the Father’s will.
b. Observing this tells us about who God is. He is a community…that is why he creates us to be relational people. The difference is that God is such a unity that all of his needs are met within himself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
i. What is the key to their relationship? They/He exist in other-centered community. They exist to make much of each other.
ii. This is the secret to happiness and joy in life. We are not made to be self-focused individuals. We truly find life when we embrace others-centeredness.
iii. Think about it. How does a marriage breakdown?
1. When either the husband or the wife decides that their own needs are more important than the others.
2. When they become self-focused…demanding their own needs get met, and stop loving and serving the other.
iv. What about a community?
1. When we become so self-focused rather than others focused that we exploit others…take from others…use others rather than love.
v. Same with a church community…when it becomes all about my needs, my wants, my family, etc. What am I getting, rather than how can I serve.
Brothers and sisters, you want to experience true happiness…you want to live in light of your original design…stop thinking so much about yourself.
This isn’t a self-esteem issue…where we think either too little of ourselves or too highly of ourselves. The key is to not think so much about ourselves and think about others.
When we lose ourselves, that’s when we find ourselves.
One more thing, and I saved the best for last. Look at what God speaks over the Son.
3. “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
a. What does every single boy long to hear, no need to hear from his dad?
b. “Son, I love you and Son, I’m proud of you!”
c. Men, if you don’t hear these words from your dad, it profoundly shapes you. You find yourself constantly trying to prove yourselves…to achieve…to earn the approval or affirmation of someone (usually your dad!) Ladies, this often hits you too, but a little different.
d. After Jesus had spent 30 years on this earth…toiling away in obscurity…in a little Podunk town called Nazareth…that no one had really heard of. What does God the Father speak to him as he begins (not finishes) his ministry? Son, I love you and I am proud of you! Profound words
e. Now, here is the good news that Mark is going to unfold for us in the next 16 chapters. Because of what Jesus is going to accomplish for us, if we put our faith in Jesus, then God chooses to relate to us through the lens of his perfect Son.
i. Not holding our sins against us, but viewing us through the perfect resume of our perfect older brother Jesus.
ii. Meaning, the words that the Father speaks over the Son, if we are in the Son, he speaks over us too. “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.”
f. Do you see how this sets us free from our earthly fathers? Whether or not they spoke these words to us.
i. I happened to have an awesome dad, where I never doubted these things
ii. But even if you had the worst dad in the world, the only Father whose opinion of you REALLY MATTERS, speaks these definitive words!
Application:
· If you are new, come back and explore the rest of this story with us.
· Put your faith in Jesus and be baptized. Identify with him, like he identified with you!
· Is there any small step of obedience that you need to do something about?
· Do you need to start living others-centered?
· If you are in Christ, do you know that God loves you and is proud of you?
Mark 1:1–3 ESV
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 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,’ ”
Mark 1:4–8 ESV
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 1:9–11 ESV
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
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