1. The Beginning: callbacks to Genesis
In this chapter Mark is making some big connections with the Genesis story of creation. In Genesis the Spirit moves over the face of the waters, God speaks into the world, humanity is created, and history is launched.
Mark is establishing the fact that God, in Jesus, is making a new start — new in the sense that it is a great step forward, but not new in leaving everything else behind.
2. What is the gospel?
The word ‘gospel’ has various meanings for us. It suggests a message proclaimed (as in ‘Did he preach the gospel?’), or a book of the Bible (we are studying the Gospel according to Mark). Originally, however, it meant neither. It represented ‘good news’ in the sense of announcing some significant event which made a change in world history. For example, if you lived in a country that has suddenly become under the rule for a new king / government.
For a great thorough explanation check out this 5 min video from the Bible Project on the Gospel of the Kingdom.
3. Why were they being baptized? Why a baptism of repentance?
Like many other ancient peoples, Jewish people practiced ceremonial washings. Their only once-for-all ceremonial washing, however, was the immersion that non-Jews had to go through when they converted to Judaism.
To tell Jewish people that they had to be baptized or repent the same way non-Jews did would have been offensive, because it challenged the common Jewish belief about salvation. Most Jewish people thought that if they were born into a Jewish family and did not reject God’s law, they would be saved; John told them instead that they had to come to God the same way that non-Jews did.
The point of John’s baptism is that everyone has to come to God on the same terms: with a repentant heart, knowing God’s forgiveness is needed.
4. What does that mean, “he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (1:8)
The main point of what John is communicating is that Jesus’ ministry is on a completely different level than his. His is a ministry and baptism of repentance - a temporary state. Jesus’ ministry of salvation is one that categorically changes us. We are God’s saved and redeemed and anointed children.
It also points to how those who believe in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection will receive God’s Holy Spirit.
So What Impacted You?
Was it the way God sees and loves his child? All of his children?
Or perhaps it’s how God is that explicit with His love and affection, then perhaps I can make known my love and affection for those who need it, too. Perhaps you’ve been withholding this kind of powerful word from someone. Perhaps you doubt how powerful you’re affirmation could be.
Was it how immediately after incredible blessing and affirmation that Jesus is sent into the wilderness to be tested and tempted? Does this give you consolation knowing that if you’re going through a difficult time, it does not mean that you’re outside of God’s favour and love? Does it comfort you knowing that Jesus was tested and tempted himself?
Was it humbling to consider that the most important work of your life (like John) is really in service to incredible work of the God in the world? Can you picture how your day to day work fits in God’s work? Even in if you can’t, can you believe and trust that it does?
Are you convicted that something in your life, the path you’re on, needs to be straightened out for Jesus? Continually receiving Jesus the King, is how we are transformed from the inside out. Are you paths prepared to receive him? Maybe you’ve been relying on something other than Jesus to be your salvation these days...
Notes for this week were based on