SYNOPSIS – The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus constituted nothing less than the beginning of the promised New Creation of God – Mark 1:1-3.
The gospel of Mark provides us with no information about the birth or early life of Jesus. It opens, quite suddenly, with a declaration about the “gospel of Jesus Christ” derived from the Hebrew Bible, one that provided a link to John the Baptist as the prophesied forerunner. His appearance along the banks of the Jordan was in preparation for the commencement of the messianic mission of Jesus and the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of God.
“Beginning” is the first word of this gospel account. Its first position in the Greek sentence makes the term emphatic. The sudden appearance of John at the Jordan River marked the commencement of the “good news” about the kingdom of God – [MAP].
(Mark 1:1-3) – “Beginning of the glad-message of Jesus Christ. According as it is written in Isaiah the prophet—Lo! I send my messenger before thy face — Who shall prepare thy way—A voice of one crying aloud—In the wilderness prepare ye the way of the Lord, Straight be making his paths” – (The Emphasized Bible).
Other New Testament passages also link the “beginning” of the Gospel to the ministry of John. While Jesus remains the center and “content” of the gospel story, John is the one who “prepared” the way for his arrival. In the opening paragraph, “beginning” is a deliberate echo of the Genesis account of creation:
- (Genesis 1:1) – “In BEGINNING God created the heavens and the earth.”
- (John 1:1-3) – “In beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made.”
- (Acts 1:21-22) – “It is needful then that of the men who companied with us during all the time in which the Lord Jesus came in and went out over us, Beginning from the immersion by John until the day when he was taken up from us, that, a witness of his resurrection along with us should one of these become.”
- (Acts 10:36-37) – “As touching the word he hath sent unto the sons of Israel announcing the glad tidings of peace through Jesus Christ — the same is Lord of all, Ye yourselves know what hath come to pass throughout the whole of Judaea, beginning from Galilee after the immersion which John proclaimed, respecting Jesus who was of Nazareth.”
The life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus constituted the beginning of the promised New Creation of God – The redemption of humanity and the entire Cosmos. His arrival at the Jordan River carried universal implications for the created order, and not just for the Jewish people. Thus, it was truly “good news” for all:
- (Romans 8:20-23) – “For unto vanity hath creation been made subject—not by choice, but by reason of him that made it subject, in hope That creation itself, also, shall be freed—from the bondage of the decay into the freedom of the glory of the sons of God; For we know that, all creation is sighing together and travailing-in-birth-throes together until the present,—And, not only so, but, we ourselves also who have the first-fruit of the Spirit—[we] even ourselves within our own selves do sigh,—sonship ardently awaiting—the redeeming of our body.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
- (Revelation 3:14) – “And, unto the messenger of the assembly in Laodicea, write:—These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
The Greek term rendered “gospel” or euangelion means, “good news, glad tidings” (Strong’s – #G2098). It is a compound of eu (“good”) and angelion (“message”). English words derived from angelion and euangelion include “angel” and “evangelist.” Many of the New Testament applications of the term are based on passages from the book of Isaiah, for example:
- (Isaiah 40:8-9) – “The grass hath withered, The flower hath faded — But the word of our God shall stand unto times age-abiding! To a high mountain get ye up O herald — band of Zion, Lift high with strength your voice, O herald — band of Jerusalem — Lift it high, do not fear, Say to the cities of Judah — Lo! your God!”
- (Isaiah 52:7) – “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet — Of him That bringeth good tidings, That publisheth peace, That bringeth good tidings of blessing, That publisheth salvation — That saith unto Zion, Thy God hath become king.”
- (Isaiah 61:1-3) – “The spirit of My Lord Yahweh is upon me — Because Yahweh Hath anointed me to tell good tidings to the oppressed, hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, To proclaim To captives liberty, To them who are bound the opening of the prison; To proclaim — The year of acceptance of Yahweh…” – (Compare – Luke 4:17-21).
The “good news of Jesus Christ” announced by John concerned the imminent arrival of the salvation and reign of God in the person of His Son. In the Greek clause, The genitive construction can mean Jesus is the content or the herald of the good news, or both (Hebrews 1:1-3).
“Christ” was not his last name what he was and is, the “Anointed one” – The Messiah of Israel. To his neighbors, he was “Jesus, son of Joseph,” or simply, “Jesus of Nazareth,” in reference to his hometown.
Two categories of men were “anointed” in the Old Testament – priests and kings. The anointing was performed by pouring olive oil on the head of the man to set him apart for a specific office or mission. This physical act signified his consecration for office – (Leviticus 21:10-12, Psalm 89:20 – “I have found David my servant, With mine own holy oil have I anointed him”).
“Jesus” is an anglicized spelling of the Hebrew name Yeshua or Yehoshua, the latter form better known to English readers as “Joshua.” The longer form of the name is the more ancient one and is found most often in the Hebrew Bible. The shorter form, Yeshua, reflects the later Aramaic influences after the Babylonian Captivity. It only occurs in the Old Testament books composed after the Captivity. Moses prefixed Yah to the original name of Joshua or Hoshea to form the compound Yehoshua, which means “Yahweh saves,” or possibly “salvation of Yahweh” (Numbers 13:16, Deuteronomy 32:44).
The phrase “Son of God” among first-century Jews had messianic and royal connotations. It was part of the promise of kingship to the House of David, who became God’s “son” when he was installed on the throne of Israel. The Messiah was expected to inherit his throne – (2 Samuel 7:14, Psalm 2:6-9, Hebrews 1:5-14).
In the gospel of Mark, Jesus demonstrates his understanding of what it means to be the “Son of God,” especially in his sacrificial death. And he reveals himself in unexpected ways. Ironically, the only ones who recognize him as the “Son of God” are the demons he exorcises, and the Roman centurion put in charge of his crucifixion – (Mark 3:11, 8:32, 15:39).
“As written in Isaiah.” The prophecy cited by the Gospel of Mark is a composite of verses from the books of Exodus, Isaiah, and Malachi, although the bulk of the text is from the passage from Isaiah. Probably, ‘Mark’attributes the whole citation to Isaiah because he relies on it for his messianic theology:
- (Exodus 23:20) – “Behold, I send a messenger before thee, to keep thee by the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.”
- (Isaiah 40:3) – “The voice of one that cries, Prepare in the wilderness the way of Yahweh; make level in the desert a highway for our God.”
- (Malachi 3:1) “Behold, I send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom ye desire, behold, he cometh, says Yahweh of hosts.”
The quotation from the story of the Exodus is especially appropriate since, originally, it was a promise to keep Israel safe in the Wilderness and lead her to the Promised Land. Likewise, Jesus is the true Israel about to traverse the Wilderness and, thus, to prepare the way for his people to inherit the kingdom.
The gospel of Mark threads other themes from the history of Israel into its narrative, in addition to the Exodus from Egypt and the conquest of Canaan. However, the ministry of the Messiah is far more than a replay of the story of Israel or an attempt to succeed where that nation failed. Instead, in his life, ministry, Death, and Resurrection the plan of Yahweh to redeem humanity and the creation from bondage to Sin, Satan, and Death begins to unfold.