Friday, January 1, 2016

The Gospel of Mark's testimonies of Jesus Christ, the Son of God - Mark 1:2-9

Mark 1:2-8 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way; 3 The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.’” 4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. 7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Happy New Year to all readers of today's post! There is no better way to start off the New Year than by getting to know Jesus Christ. We spent the last several days getting to know Jesus in Mark's Gospel by way of the titles we find in Mark 1:1. As we begin this New Year, I thought we would continue on in Mark's Gospel by aiming to know Jesus by way of the testimonies given about Him. A testimony can be sometimes more powerful than a bare logical argument - since the person giving the testimony has lived out the reality of the truth in question. Mark presents a string of testimonies that combine to introduce us to the most amazing Person - Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Today's post will consider the testimonies of prophecy and John the Baptist.

Prophecy testifies concerning Jesus Christ

Though Mark portrays Jesus as seemingly splashing upon the canvas of history, His coming and arrival had been predicted centuries prior. Mark 1:2-3 records Isaiah's words from Isaiah 40:3 "A voice is calling,“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God." The way in which this quote is done echoes another prophet, Malachi, in Malachi 3:1. With the entire history of prophecy represented, Mark shows his readers that Jesus came to fulfill Old Testament expectation. Jesus Himself would later testify in Luke 24:44 that the Law, Prophets and Psalms testified concerning Him. So we see then a prophetic testimony concerning this Jesus. But now notice a second, personal testimony from John the Baptist. 

Personal testimony of John the Baptist concerning Jesus Christ

Mark 1:4-8 spends some time focusing on the mission and personal features of John the Baptist to show the reader that this eye-witness of Jesus was no figment of his imagination. We then find John's testimony-proper of Jesus in Mark 1:9-11  "In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; 11 and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.” John's Gospel also records in similar words John the Baptist's testimony in John 1:15-17 “John *testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” 16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. 17 For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

Why is John the Baptist's testimony so valuable at this point in Mark's Gospel. In surveying the other three Gospels, we discover John the Baptist had occasion to baptize Jesus and witness the Spirit’s descent upon Him in the form of a dove (Matthew 3:13; Luke 3:22; John 1:32). Moreover, John the Baptist was related to Jesus in His humanity by virtue of the fact that both their mothers were related (Luke 1:36). His eyewitness stature makes his testimony ironclad in demonstrating the reality asserted in Mark 1:1, namely the good news of Jesus Christ being the Son of God.

What this means to you

As we close out today's post, I ask you: do you have a testimony of personally knowing Jesus Christ - the Son of God? That is - have you by grace through faith trusted in Him. This is what Mark's Gospel aims to convince us of - namely the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus came to give His life a ransom for many, which includes you (see Mark 10:45). Jesus lived (Mark 1-10); died (Mark 12-15) and raised from the dead (Mark 16:1-20). Would it be that we would heed the message of Mark's Gospel and follow this Jesus.

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