Mark 1:1-8 John the Baptist


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Introduction to the Gospel about Jesus Christ (1:1) The prophecy concerning John the Baptist (1:2-3) John’s preaching and ministry (1:4-5) John’s clothing (1:6) John’s preaching about the Messiah (1:7-8)

Exegesis

The Gospel’s introductory verse asserts that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and the Son of God. Mark begins his gospel not with the ministry of John the Baptist, but with the prophecy about John the Baptist. Depending on the translation of the text, Mark either specifically references Isaiah, or the prophets generally. There are actually two prophets quoted. The first prophecy is Malachi 3:1:  “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.” God intended to send a forerunner before Christ, to speak and prepare the way for the Gospel of the coming Messiah. The second prophecy, undoubtedly speaking to the location, character, and ministry of John the Baptist is Isaiah 40:3:  “the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”.

John appeared in the wilderness as was required of him. John’s voice cried in the wilderness, as he called for a baptism of repentance and forgiveness of sins. Repentance, or the admittance of sin, was necessary to receive the forgiveness of sin. All of the country of Judea and all of Jerusalem went to John to be baptized by him in the Jordan river and confessed their sins.

John’s clothes were the same as the Old Testament prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). John had the same qualities and spirit as Elijah, and was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Elijah’s return (Mal. 4:5, Matt. 17:10-13). He ate only locusts and wild honey because he exhibited a dependance on God, and God alone. His humble manner of life was continuous in his preaching about the coming Messiah, the one who he announced would be greater than he was. John said he was not even worthy enough to kneel down and untie the sandals of the Messiah, which was the work of a servant to his master. John readily admitted that the baptism he gave was only a symbol, a preparation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which could only come from the Messiah himself. In this manner, the preparation for the way of the Lord was in the hearts of men and women.

Application

John’s quality of humility is a model for Christian teachers and preachers. John’s simple message of repentance and forgiveness of God was all it took to draw people to him.  John did not adorn himself with elegant fabric or gold jewelry. He did not care on public perception of him. The praise of men was cheap to John. The approval of God was much more valuable. He spoke God’s truth, he relied only on God, and he gave himself entirely to God’s will, submitting to the role which he was assigned. John pointed not to himself, but to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. He knew that he was nothing compared to Christ, and was not even worthy of being a servant. God’s church is in need of reform, and in dire need of men and women like John the Baptist; men and women who put Christ before themselves, and prepare the hearts of others for Christ.

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