Rooted Gospel: God (Mark 1)

MOTIVATE

Silence. Some people enjoy it and name it “peace and quiet”. Others dislike and say it’s like darkness. Our world is often filled with constant noise. There is the urban noise of traffic, honking cars, diesel engines, machines, factories, late night music, not to mention crowds and conversations. Churches also fill the void in their worship services so that there is a constant stream of movement or flow without any “dead air”. Even when we enter the seclusion of our homes we maintain the noise with fans or various forms of media playing. Relationships that are filled with silence are indeed deadly. Spouses who sleep with their backs toward each other or in separate rooms, not saying a word. Teenagers who isolate themselves in their bedrooms or basements. In these relationships, some say that this sort of silence is more painful than yelling and arguing.

What do we make of this thing called silence? Is it helpful or hurtful?

In the Scriptures silence is displayed in similar fashion in that it doesn’t always seem positive. It appears as a time of judgment or gloom. The psalmist prayed, “O Lord, do not keep silence. O Lord, do not be far from me” (35:22).

Likewise, the times between the OT & NT is known as the Silent Period. For 400 years God was silent toward Israel in not sending any prophets or giving any sort of revelation. This was unlike God. God had always spoken before.

–          When God speaks life happens, and it is good (Genesis 1).

–          When God speaks there is blessing.

–          When God speaks, heaven is opened and there is grace, mercy, hope and salvation.

Hebrews 1:1-3a “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

–          We need God to not be silent and to speak. For without His Word we are lost.

This is precisely what life was like before God spoke to man through Jesus. The people of Israel during the intertestamental time were in need of God to speak. They returned from Exile (586BC) only to live for over 400 years as prisoners in their own land. They were conquered and defeated. It started with the Greeks. Alexander the Great influenced the region with a common Greek language – “Koine”. Later, the Selucids would continue the spread of Greek culture with syncretism and pagan worship. Antiochus Epiphanies would desecrate the Jewish Temple by erecting an altar to Zeus on the sacrificial altar. This would haunt the Jews in the future (Mark 13:14; 2 Thess 2). In turn, this sparked a longing for change, hope and redemption. Revolutions developed with those known as the Maccabees. In a sense, they were freedom fighters and it became a long period of brutal warfare for Israel. A dynasty was formed under the Roman superpower where Israel would experience some freedom able to worship while remaining under Caesar lordship. The Jews awaited God’s deliverance. They worshiped at the Temple that was rebuilt under Herod the Great but they longed for a pure and holy Temple of the Lord. Ironically, God would give them a new Temple yet they would destroy it by nailing Him to a tree. God spoke but they did not listen.

This is the introduction to our new series called Rooted in the Gospel. It will be a series that examines the life of Jesus. We will hear what God wants to communicate to us by observing the words and actions of Jesus. God has spoken to us through His Son and we must listen.

EXAMINE                 Mark 1 

The book of Mark is a fast paced account of Jesus’ life. One of the reasons is because Mark wants to communicate in the quickest way possible about what it means not just to be a Christian but a true follower (disciple) of Jesus. In a sense, it is a learning manual equipping Christians how to be missionary disciples of Jesus around the world. In fact, it is so fast paced that it assumes the incarnation without going into detail but with a single sentence saying, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1). The fact that Mark calls Jesus the Son of God implies the incarnation and full affirmation to Jesus’ divinity. He gives further credence by quoting OT prophecies concerning the Messiah which is fulfilled in John the Baptizer and Jesus.

The gospel is about God’s promise (Mark 1:1-8)

Mark starts His Gospel with OT promises about the Messiah (Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1). He quotes Isaiah[1] saying there would be a messenger or forerunner preparing the way for the Messiah.[2] John the Baptizer fills this role calling people to confess sin and be baptized. John was not assuming the role of Messiah, he was only pointing the way (v.7-8).

The word gospel appears seven times in Mark’s Gospel.[3] His frequent usage of the word emphasizes its meaning of “good news” and hope that Jesus brings to people. Remember, as mentioned before, Israel’s years have been filled with silence and gloom as they awaited the time when God would fulfill His promise to them in ages past.

Perhaps you are in a silent period of life. Maybe you have been praying for God to speak and grant deliverance. Mark’s Gospel is a reminder that God can be trusted and always fulfills His promises. The Israelites waited 400 years which indeed is longer than you have personally been waiting on God. Even more, the way God’s promise is fulfilled to Israel is through a man baptizing “in the wilderness”. The point is that God’s timing is perfect and He can and does speak in wilderness type circumstances. You see, your stillness should not cause you to hate God but to wait on God, as the psalmist says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (46:10). In times of silence we are to wait, trust and grow. Do not think this is time being wasted; God is doing something bigger and behind the scenes to honor His name.

The gospel is about Jesus’ obedience (Mark 1:9)

Mark continues from John’s role to Jesus getting baptized by him. In another Gospel, John tries to prevent himself from baptizing Jesus saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” And Jesus responds, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:13). Jesus was being obedient to God’s righteous mission for His life. God requires man to be righteous and obedient. Yet, we are not, we are disobedient sinners. Jesus was identifying with sinful man. Likewise, His obedience to righteousness would transfer to man.

“Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:18-19).

This is good news because it means that Jesus fulfills the righteousness that is required of us. Through our faith in Jesus’ obedience we are justified.

One point to note here, if Jesus was being obedient to God and fulfilling righteousness by being baptized, why do people hesitate to be baptized when the become one of His followers? The first act of obedience to Jesus should be baptism.

The gospel is about Holy Spirit anointing (Mark 1:10-14)

After Jesus’ baptism the Holy Spirit confirmed this act announcing that Christ’s obedience was pleasing to God. This is none other than the display of each Person of the Trinity manifesting their role in the gospel. The Father sends the Son, the Son obeys and fulfills the righteous sacrifice and the Spirit anoints the Son and promises to do the same upon all who believe and follow Jesus as Lord. Jesus proclaims this invitation saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (1:15).

APPLY/THINK

Time: “kairos” meaning opportune, significant time; a defining moment

Repent: Turn directions. Repentance is a necessary component of faith.

Believe: Trust, Follow, Live. Repentance and Belief go hand in hand, turning away from sin and turning toward God.


[1] Note that this is testimony to the accuracy of Scripture as it was recorded, translated and later quoted.

[2] Note also that Mark interprets the OT prophecy in equating the Lord with Jesus, implying His divine identity.

[3] See: 1:14–15; 8:35; 10:29; 13:10; and 14:9. Cf. also 16:15; versus only four times in Matthew and none in Luke and John (but Matthew has the cognate verb once and Luke ten times). From Vol 23: Mark The New American Commentary.

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