2019-08-18 – Mark 1.1-11 – A New Beginning
2019-08-18 – Mark 1.1-11 – A New Beginning
(QCABA Annual Picnic, Fall Festival? VBS Palestine Mission Trip Report)
Good morning everyone. It is so nice to be able to spend some time with you all in fellowship with the Lord. Thank you and God bless you for being with us today.
Last week we concluded our study of the book of Ruth. The title was “Why is life so complicated?” If you missed it, you can listen and read the whole four summary of messages on our website at FbcOrion.org.
I have a funny illustration for you to start this message today.
Three elderly men are at the doctor’s office for a memory test. The doctor asks the first man, “What is three times three?” “274,” came the reply. The doctor rolls his eyes and looks up at the ceiling, and says to the second man, “It’s your turn. What is three times three?” “Tuesday,” replies the second man. The doctor shakes his head sadly, then asks the third man, “Okay, your turn. What’s three times three?” “Nine,” says the third man. “That’s great!” says the doctor. “How did you get that?” “Simple,” he says, “just subtract 274 from Tuesday.”
Sometimes when we try to do the logic in our heads about our faith walk and life in general, it just doesn’t seem to calculate. When I was studying calculus in college, as the class progressed, I had a hard time following, so I would go back to the front of the book and start over. This week starts A New Beginning in our Orion First Baptist Church, as is the title of today’s message. We are going to dive into the beginning of the Gospel book of Mark.
The first question you might have is, who is this guy named Mark that we would be reading about today?
Well, they didn’t have any camera’s 2,000 years ago, however I have a few pictures of what Saint Mark might have looked like according to a selection of artists’ renderings.
Author and Pastor Chuck Swindoll has a good overview of this book of Mark and about its author. He said about that aside from the apostle John the Bible records more information about Mark than any of the other gospel writers. Dr. Luke mentions Mark’s name several times in the book of Acts. And we know that the first startup church Jerusalem met in Mark’s mother’s home.
As a young man, Mark started the first missionary journey with Paul and Barnabas, but then when things became difficult, he left for home early in disgrace. Later Mark traveled with Barnabas to Cyprus for more mission work, and he became more significant in the life of Paul, being one of the last people the apostle Paul mentioned in his final letter (2 Timothy 4:11). However, Mark’s most significant personal connection was with the apostle Peter, who was likely Mark’s source for the material in this gospel book.
Mark composed this gospel book sometime before the destruction of the temple around AD 70. And since this book has a distinctly Roman feel to it, suggests that Mark was probably in Rome, writing from Peter’s recollections sometime before his death, between AD 57 and AD 59.
Mark’s testimony and book was obviously considered valid, as it was used as reference by both Dr. Luke and Matthew. I have a little graphic here that shows that 76% of the book of Mark is mentioned in their gospel books. They recognized Mark as an authority and we should too.
In this gospel, Mark portrays Jesus as being constantly on the move. The forward motion in Mark’s writing keeps the knowledgeable reader’s mind continually looking ahead toward the cross and the resurrection. Thirty-nine times Mark used the word immediately, giving a sense that Jesus’s time on earth was short and that there was much to accomplish in His few years of ministry.
So for the 10,000 foot overview of this book, while Matthew’s gospel portrays Jesus as the King, Mark mostly reveals Him as God’s Servant. Jesus’s work was always for a larger purpose, a point clearly summarized in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark filled his gospel with the miracles of Jesus, illustrating again and again both the power and the compassion of the Son of God. In these passages, Mark revealed more than Jesus being the good teacher who offered people spiritual renewal; the book also portrays Jesus as the true God and the true man, reaching into the lives of people and effecting both physical and circumstantial change. Moreover, Jesus becomes our model for how to live our lives—serving others as He did.
So again, who is Saint Mark? I would suggest that you picture him as an apprentice of Peter, Barnabas and later Paul. He was blessed to witness the King of Kings, Lord of Lords Jesus Christ start and end His mortal ministry on earth.
He saw Jesus serve, save and heal many people. Mark witnessed Jesus’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension into Heaven. He was there when the Holy Spirit came down and birthed the new church, and he served alongside the other disciples as they started new missions all around the world.
That is why Mark is considered one of the best authorities of the Gospels, and that is why he deserves our attention as we now make our way forward through this amazing eye witness testimony called the Gospel of Mark.
Are you with me on this?
Please turn in your Bibles to Mark 1, Pew Bibles pg 887, in what we call God’s Inspired, Infallible and Living Word, and let us start with Prayer.
As we will shortly see, Mark starts much later than the other Gospel books in documenting Jesus’s life. The other books first introduce the parents of Jesus and give their genealogy and talk a bit about the miracle birth and some of the struggles of Jesus’s family. Whereas, Mark starts with the baptism.
In the first verse, Mark starts this first sentence:
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
So let us pause for a moment here as it sets the stage for everything that follows. The word Gospel must be understood so as we might appreciate what Jesus did for us as is chronicled within. Question: "What is the gospel?"
Answer: The word Gospel literally means “good news” and occurs 93 times in the Bible, and exclusively in the New Testament. In Greek, it is the word Eu-Aggelion, from which we get our English words evangelist and evangelical. The gospel is, broadly speaking, the whole of Scripture; more narrowly, the gospel is the “good news” concerning Christ and the way of salvation. According to John 3:16, the gospel is the good news that God loves the world enough to give His only Son to die for our sin. Furthermore the gospel is good news because our salvation and eternal life and home in heaven are guaranteed forever through Christ.
So at the start of this first verse in this first chapter of this book of Mark, the author wants us to know this is A New Beginning of the Good News Gospel message of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We should all be excited now to step-into this story, because it is the most important thing in the world that should truly matter to us as Christ followers.
Now at verse two, Mark continues, he says:
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. 3 A voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight!
These verses are actually taken from the Old Testament book of Isaiah 40. Isaiah is one of the most prophetic of all profits in the Old Testament. About a 700 years before Jesus was born, Isaiah wrote this, foretelling not of Jesus in this text, but instead telling us and the Jews back then, that God is sending a messenger ahead to announce the arrival of the Lord Himself, to prepare us to receive Him. That messenger, as we will shortly see is the renowned John the Baptist. John is going to prepare and announce to the world that Jesus is coming and that Jesus is here.
4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 John wore a camel-hair garment with a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.
John the Baptist, or otherwise known as John the Baptizer. He was a very interesting or strange fellow. We know a lot about John and his family from the other Gospels. We know that his mom Elizabeth was barren until her later years and thus her pregnancy itself was a miracle. Then when Jesus’s young mother Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit, God told her to go see her elder cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John the Baptist at the time. That was a wonderfully orchestrated answer to prayer, and when Mary came close to Elizabeth for the first time, the Bible tells us that baby John leaped in Elizabeth’s womb. That same boy John grew up, and at some point moved out to the wilderness. There he started preaching about repentance and baptizing the people. He was a real rough looking character. He wore camel-hair garments with a leather belt and ate locusts and wild honey. Doesn’t that sound delish? Lol
Again there is so much we could learn and deliberate about John the Baptizer. The Old Testament talks about John being also in the spirit of Elijah. And if you read about the character of Elijah in 2 Kings 1&2, you will see that he also was a ruff cut fellow who wore a leather belt. Elijah was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind without first dyeing. And now John the Baptist, in the spirit of Elijah,
is drawing up many, many people from the cities who feel God’s calling on their lives. They could instead be sacrificing animals for their sins, but something in them is drawing them to the wilderness to get baptized by John, who was preparing the way for the Messiah. That is the spirit of what was going on.
Listen now to how John the Baptizer addresses the crowds:
7 He proclaimed, “One who is more powerful than I am is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals.
8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John was known to be telling people what they needed to hear in a very direct, in-your-face manner. Later we will see how his convictions lead to his eventual death even. Here he was yelling that the people should repent or turn-away from their sins, and he says also that the king is coming! And the untying of a persons dirty sandals was considered one of the most demeaning of jobs that anyone could have. John said that he wasn’t even worthy of even doing that for Jesus.
They were on the banks of the Jordan River. I was privileged to be there just a few months ago. It isn’t anything compared to our Mighty Mississippi in form or function. However it is a blessed river indeed. Scripture talks about the river Jordan that flows down from the Sea of Galilee into the Dead Sea in so many different situations. And the greatest of these stories is what we will see next:
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. 10 As soon as he came up out of the water, 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.”
Jesus was raised in the city of Nazareth. Although He was born in Bethlehem and his family lineage came from there, His actual home was in Nazareth. In the other Gospels we know that John initially refused to baptize Jesus as He knew Jesus was the true Messiah. However Jesus insisted and John was honored to baptize the King of Kings that day. We see in this text the first instance of many where all three persons of what we call the Trinity were present that blessed day. God the Son Jesus was baptized with water and the Holy Spirit. Mark wrote that it was an amazing thing to witness. The sky “tore open” and the Spirit descending on him like a dove”. I can’t wait until I get into heaven and then maybe I can see with my own eyes all of this unfolding in eternity. Then God the Father confirmed what God the Son already knew, He said “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
This is A New Beginning in that this is a new Gospel message from Saint Mark about our wonderful Savior Jesus Christ. You are here today because you have chosen to make God a priority in your life. God ordained that you would be here, and He inspired Mark to write His story that we might hear it, and know Him personally. This is A New Beginning of this Good News Gospel book, but it is also A New Beginning of your relationship with Jesus Christ, God the Son.
Our Bible says in John 3:16 that (say it with me) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.
Many of you know that verse, but the next few verses are equally important. Verse 17 of John continues, Jesus said, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God”.
Again, this is A New Beginning, for us in this church, and we are so blessed in so many amazing ways. I pray you are learning to love God’s Word, and you really and clearly know beyond a shadow of doubt how much GOD loves you. He sent His son to live then die on the cross so that we might dwell in the home of our God almighty. But it all starts with faith, and ends with faith in Him. Jesus demonstrated His faith and He set the tone and tenor of His ministry and set a great example for us here today. Jesus was baptized in the Jordan which symbolized a public profession of His faith. He tells us we should do the same.
Next Month, I believe the first Sunday in September, we hope to have another Baptism. Maybe you can be amongst those who make that decision. Maybe it is a good time for you to consider Recalculating your priorities and perhaps declare
A New Beginning too.
But it all starts with accepting Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord.
Would you consider that today?