Mark 1.1

Alright, here we go. As a reminder, every other day I’ll be switching between the OT and NT, and covering as much as I have energy for – sometimes a verse, sometimes a chapter or more. I’ll cover the passage twice – once ‘liveblogging’ while reading the ESV, and a second time looking at some detail with the NET. I’m going to do it in a bit of a weird order though. I’m going to start with Mark, because it is the shortest, and both Matthew and Luke seem to draw from Mark – it may have been the earliest written Gospel. Then we’ll move on to Matthew, then to John, and finish the Gospels with Luke-Acts, as they were originally written as companion pieces. Ready? Here we go.

Mark 1.1-8

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Bold claims, right from the start – the author doesn’t beat it around the bush at all. It’s quite something to have the first line of ‘Good News’ be something that would be blasphemous to most Jews.

 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way,
the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
     ‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
    make his paths straight,’”

And then we move straight into OT prophecy. Prophecy given to a people in exile, if I remember my OT theology correctly… a position that the Jews of Judea in the First Century could relate to I’m sure. They were really exiles in their own country, worshipping at a temple which God seemed to have forgotten about. He simply wasn’t there in the way He used to be.

 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

‘A baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.’ Do we think about baptism this way any more? As a public proclamation of repentance? Do we even truly repent any more?

And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 

What a character. If this man came calling people to repentance, I don’t know if I would have listened. I KNOW some churches near me wouldn’t have listened.

And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.  I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Difference between water and the Holy Spirit. Today this invokes images of pentecostals and charismatics – I imagine John was envisioning something closer to the ‘Spirit of the Lord is upon me’ of the OT prophets – the Spirit enabling the prophetic voice of His people.

And now, for the NET:

Mark 1:1

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

Translator’s notes in the NET note that it is quite possible that Mark was alluding to the ‘In the Beginning’ of Genesis with this phrasing. If so, it’s a beautiful parallel – a new beginning.

1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare your way, 

1:3 the voice of one shouting in the wilderness,

Prepare the way for the Lord,

make his paths straight.’” 

It is interesting that this isn’t actually from Isaiah in its entirety. The beginning part is from Exodus 23.20 with a parallel in Malachi 3.1 – only 1.3 is a quotation from Isaiah, and a liberal quotation at that. The NT authors often had no problem grabbing various snippets of Scripture and using them to prove their point – something we would never do today. Interesting.

1:4 In the wilderness John the baptizer began preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 

I like Mark’s use of ‘Baptizer’ instead of ‘Baptist’ (there is a difference in the Greek). It’s an action word, something that John does, which fits in with Mark very well, as it is a very action-oriented book. The NET also mentions that this baptism was not simply a mental assent that one was in need of repentance – rather, one who was baptized was expected to act differently and live differently.

1:5 People from the whole Judean countryside and all of Jerusalem were going out to him, and he was baptizing them in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.

At the beginning of v.5, there is, in the Greek, the word ‘kai’ which is translated ‘and’. This just goes on with Mark’s immediate style of writing – it’s often ‘And then this happend, and then that happened’ or ‘immediately this happened’ – something we lose in the English I think.

1:6 John wore a garment made of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

John was fully within the tradition of the prophets – as my NT Theology professor, Michael Szuk, puts it, John was the last of the OT Prophets, and the greatest.

1:7 He proclaimed, “One more powerful than I am is coming after me; I am not worthy to bend down and untie the strap of his sandals. 1:8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

I love how the story of of Jesus does not start with Jesus. The Gospel begins with John, announcing the coming of Christ. For me, this just furthers my belief that God uses ordinary people for extraordinary purposes. It’s incredible the way that He includes us.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s