Monday, April 08, 2013

Gospel Beginnings

Gospel Beginnings

Intro.: I like musicals – though it is not one of my favorites, many people like “Sound of Music”.

1.     Though not my favorite musical, one of my favorite songs is Do-Re-Me
2.     It begins like this:
let's start at the very beginning
a very good place to start
when you read you begin with abc
when you sing you begin with do re mi
do re mi
the first three notes just happen to be
do re mi do re mi
do re mi fa so la tei
3.     Mark's definition of beginning is somewhat different than ours. Listen to the words of Mark 1:1-13

Read: Mark 1:1-13
Trans: I have long said that the first book of the Bible that most people should read is Mark

1.     Others would say John – but remember
2.     Mark is the shortest book
3.     Mark was the first book written
4.     Mark was written to help the early church remember
5.     And when he starts with the “beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ”

T.S. The key events of Mark 1:1-13 set up many of the themes we will see in the rest of the book of Mark.

       I. Key Event #1: The beginning of the Gospel
                           A. Like Genesis and John (which both start with “In the beginning ...”, and like Luke (who tells us he begins his story by understanding and reporting everything from the very beginning), Mark wants to begin at the beginning – the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
                           B. For Mark, the Gospel does not start with the Baptism of Jesus, it does not start with the birth of Christ, it also does not start with Mary or Joseph learning that they are going to serve as the step parents of the Son of God.
                           C. No, for Mark the Gospel has its beginning in the words spoken by two prophets – Malachi living 400 years before Christ's appearance, and Isaiah living 800 years before Christ's beginning his ministry.
                           D. The two prophesies that Mark quotes discuss the messenger that will prepare His world for His arrival – Mark knows something that those living in that 1st century do not.

(Ill.) For some, today, the Sunday after after Easter, is known as “Holy Humor Sunday” or “Laughter Sunday” or “Bright Sunday”. Easter does not seem like a time for laughter or humor (unless we spend time looking at the various pictures of the Easter bunny).

Yet, when we think of the contrast between what the priest's and Pharisee's anger with frustration and what God knew about Jesus' future, I expect he could not help but laugh. Here is the Son of God – they are plotting to kill him, I can imagine their snickering as they see their plans coming together; yet God knows the future. He knows of His own Son's resurrection, He knows of the church's resurrection. There is an irony here – the plans that man has are nearly as important as those God has made. It was a lesson that would be learned by those who plotted – it is a lesson that we need to learn as well. Our plans must always be made knowing that ultimately God is in control.

                            E. The two quotes that Mark uses are just the tip of the iceberg for the OT prophesies that point to Jesus' coming. One author suggests that they number in the hundreds.ii
                            F. The beginning of the Gospel for Mark was the prophesies that told of His coming.
                           G. This is how Mark began Christ's story.

    II. Key Event #2: The presence of John the Baptist
                           A. The fact that Mark quickly moves form discussing the messenger that will announce Christ's coming to discussing John the Baptist makes it clear he sees the connection.
                           B. A number of things make John stand out:
                                        1. He dresses and eats weird – even for the 1st century. His clothing and food were common for the poorest. But certainly, the most respectable members of the 1st century culture would neither dress in camels hair or eat locust or honey.
                                         2. His message could very well have been irritating – as he called people to confess their sin. I mean, he call on his audience to be honest with God. In public, yet. A tough message to a tough crowd.
                                         3. And John was baptizing. Now, baptism was not unknown – in fact it was part of the ceremony that non-Jews had to go through when they converted to Judaism.iii And that is the problem – asking the 1st century Jew to go through a ceremony reserved for the non-Jew would have been offensive.
                                         4. And he attracted a crowd. From Judea (an area about the size of NY) and the city of Jerusalem they came. They came to see the strange man. They heard his call to confess their sins and to be baptised. And they did.

(Appl.) God's word requires that we respond to it. Those who came out hear Jesus did respond. The bigger question that each of us has to offer is this, “Are we willing to respond to God's word?”

 III. Key Event #3: The Baptism of Jesus
                           A. John had said he was coming, “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 baptized you with the Holy Spirit.”
                             B. Mark does not give us a great deal of detail about the baptism itself. But he does tell us God's response:
And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
                           C. I can't help but wonder what it would have been like to be there that day.
John the Baptist draws people to himself. He has told us about one who is coming, we have been waiting for a Messiah - the Christ. And then, after that man, that one over there, is baptized, first there was a dove, and then there was that voice. “This is my beloved Son.” Wow – what a moment. The Son of God, the Messiah, there in front of us.

And then he started walking, walking as if he had to go – he starting walking toward the wilderness. I don't know much of what happened after that – but it was a day not to be forgotten.
                           D. If I had been there that day, I might not know what happened after that baptism – but we do.

IV. Key Event #4: The temptation of Jesus
                           A. The last event that is part of this picture Mark presents of the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the temptation of Christ.
                           B.  Read Mark 1:12-13
                           C. Mark presents the temptation as a natural continuation of Jesus' baptism. We have no details of the conversation Jesus had with Satan during those days in the wilderness.
                           D. Besides Jesus, there were three others out there in the wilderness with Him.
1. There was no doubt that the conflict with Satan was stressful to the extreme – three years later they would fight again. Satan would win that fight – but only for three days.
2. There angels that ministered to Jesus – that got Him through the stressful interaction he was having with Satan
3. And then there were the animals. The scripture says nothing about their role – other than their presence. But can't help but seeing an artist's rendition laid out here before us –
4. It's a picture that helps me to remember what Jesus faced out in that wilderness – at least as Mark explains it.
                            E. Jesus spent 40 days under constant threat – of Satan and of animals.
                            F. We go through times that are difficult for us as well. And Jesus is there. We are not alone – regardless of how difficult life becomes, we are not alone.


iiGot Questions Ministries. Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010.
iiiKeener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

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