1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” 4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 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. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 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. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 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. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” 12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. 14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:1-15 ESV).
After the introduction to the whole book in verse 1, I see two major sections: Verses 2-8 and verses 9-15. I divided the passage there because verses 2-8 describe the prophecy of John’s coming, and his actual coming. Then verses 9-15 describe Jesus’ baptism, temptation by Satan, and the beginning of his public ministry. And verse 9 separates verses 2-8 from what comes next by describing verses 2-8 with the phrase “in those days,” thus referring to them as the historical circumstances in which something else happened, something more important. So the emphasis of the passage is in verses 9-15.
Verse 1: Introduction
Verses 2-8: John’s preparatory ministry
Verses 2-5: In fulfillment of prophecy, John appeared to prepare God’s people for Jesus’ ministry, which led to widespread repentance and baptism.
Verses 6-8: John, who dressed like Elijah, proclaimed that one mightier than he was coming, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. (On Elijah, see 2 Kings 1:8; Mal 3:1; 4:5-6; Mark 9:13.)
Verses 9-15: Jesus’ greater ministry
There are three contrasts we can see here between Jesus and John.
Verses 9-11: Jesus was God’s beloved Son, attested from Heaven by the Father and the Spirit.
CONTRAST: John was a messenger for the Lord, but Jesus was the Son of the Father’s delight, who had the Spirit without measure! (See John 3:28-30 about Jesus being greater than John, John being just the friend of the bridegroom.)
Verses 12-13: Jesus was tempted by Satan for 40 days, but given heavenly aid.
CONTRAST: John lived and preached in the wild, but Jesus was assaulted by Satan and strengthened by angels!
The Spirit’s coming upon Christ here is reminiscent of OT heroes, except that never in a visible form! Then that same “Spirit” led him into the wilderness. Christ is filled with the Spirit for his ministry.
“The heavens” in 10b and “the angels” in 13d shows God’s approbation of his ministry.
Verses 14-15: Jesus preached the gospel of the imminent kingdom of God.
CONTRAST: John preached that someone greater was coming, but Jesus preached that prophecy was being fulfilled, and that he was the king of the imminent kingdom of God!
I connected 9-13 as a Progression, and then the whole as a Progression with 14-15, because I saw the first two events as connected more closely, with the Spirit in both, and heaven in both; after those events, Jesus left Judah, at a later point (“after John was arrested,” 14a), and came back to Galilee (thus bookending the second half of the passage with 9a).
TRUTH ABOUT JESUS: Jesus is the Father’s Spirit-filled Son, who inaugurated God’s kingdom.
What do I mean by saying that Jesus inaugurated God’s kingdom? He said in 15b that “the time is fulfilled.” What time? That “the kingdom of God is at hand” (15c), and about to begin. Therefore, people needed to repent and believe the gospel. The gospel is a kingdom gospel! (See Acts 8:12; 20:25; 28:23, 31.)
APPLICATION: Jesus is greater than John, and everyone else; he is the King over all things, sitting on David’s throne (see Acts 2:30). We need to preach this and treasure this. Do we see the future as Jesus’ future, under his authority? Do we see our lives as Jesus’ lives, under his rule and guidance? Do we see the whole world as Jesus’ world? (“We’re marching through Immanuel’s ground…”)
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