Mark didn’t hide his intentions as he opened his Gospel with the bold statement that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Mark then spent the first eight chapters showing us that Jesus IS the Son of God. Mark’s Gospel is action packed, in part due to his short, to the point, writing style. He often used words like ‘immediately’ as he moved quickly from one display of Jesus’ power and divinity to the next.
Mark began his evidence that Jesus is the Son of God by showing his readers how the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3 was fulfilled through John, the preparer of the Way. We meet John living and baptizing people in the wilderness, preaching a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and pointing people to Jesus. John was living out his mission of preparing the people’s hearts for the arrival of the long-promised Messiah.
John could have been puffed up and full of his own importance; he had such a significant role. But he wasn’t. We see in verses 7 and 8 that he humbly expressed that he was not even worthy to untie the sandals of the One coming after him! Anything to do with dirty, smelly feet was the job of the lowest servant in a household. John was saying he wasn’t even worthy to do the lowest of jobs to attend to the Lord.
In the midst of John’s humble service, God gave him the great honor of baptizing Jesus. This displayed Jesus’ humanity and pointed forward to all that He had come to do. During the baptism, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, all three parts of the Godhead were present and active. The Father spoke, confirming Jesus is the Son of God. As the Father spoke, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove on Jesus, the Son of God, empowering Him to begin His ministry.
What an amazing blessing for John to witness! While we will not experience what John saw, we will see God at work in our own hearts and in the lives of others. You may be aware of God making a way where there wasn’t a way! Take some time today to remember with thankfulness the amazing works of God you have been privileged to be part of or witness.
John knew he wasn’t worthy to be in God’s presence. There are times when we can be a bit blasé about being able to speak to the Lord. We are in a very dangerous place if we consider ourselves worthy of God’s presence. By ourselves we are not worthy, yet we can continually rejoice because Christ makes us worthy: “God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
While John baptized believers with water, Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit, the amazing gift of God’s presence constantly living within us! The Holy Spirit gives us new life and transforms our hearts! He is our advocate, teacher, and prompter. He encourages us and gives us the power to be courageous as God’s witnesses.
John’s ministry was like the first fruits of harvest or the first flowers of spring – they give us hope of so much more to come. As John clearly pointed people to Christ, he humbly planted the seed and prepared others for a life of commitment to Jesus. This was just the beginning of the church of Christ, and John played a hugely important role in it.
We all have a role to play in the church of Christ. We don’t rely on our own strength or goodness. We humbly rest in the knowledge that Jesus has made us worthy and we are enabled to live transformed lives through the power of the Holy Spirit! So, who can you point toward Jesus? Who can you build up and encourage in their faith? Sisters, let us be courageous witnesses today!
Week 1 Challenge:
The Gospel of Mark asks two main questions: “Who is Jesus?” and “Do you have faith?” As you study this Gospel, make note of when the author explicitly or implicitly asks these questions and what the answer is, both from the people in the narrative and in your own heart.
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