1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, 2 happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:
Look, I am sending my messenger before you.
He will prepare your way,
3 a voice shouting in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight” [Isaiah 40:3; Malachi 3:1; Exodus 23:20]
4 John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. 5 Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. 6 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. 11 And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”
12 At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.
14 After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee announcing God’s good news, 15 saying, “Now is the time! Here comes God’s kingdom! Change your hearts and lives, and trust this good news!”
9 The true light that shines on all people
was coming into the world.
10 The light was in the world,
and the world came into being through the light,
but the world didn’t recognize the light.
11 The light came to his own people,
and his own people didn’t welcome him.
12 But those who did welcome him,
those who believed in his name,
he authorized to become God’s children,
13 born not from blood
nor from human desire or passion,
but born from God.
14 The Word became flesh
and made his home among us.
We have seen his glory,
glory like that of a father’s only son,
full of grace and truth.
Scholar/pastor Eugene Peterson wrote, “Mark…is in a hurry to tell us what happened in the…life, death, and resurrection of Jesus—the Event that reveals the truth of God to us, so that we can live in reality and not illusion.”* We can compare John’s prologue to an epic musical or opera overture, previewing all the major themes. John said, “The Word” (Jesus) gave all who believed in him the right to become children of God. “The Word became flesh and made his home among us”—neither Greeks nor Jews believed God could bridge a gap that wide, but John had seen him do it.
Lord Jesus, in my darkest times I feel unworthy of your love. Give me “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” how much you love and value me as I reflect on the beginning of your saving mission. Amen.
* Peterson, Eugene H. The Message Numbered Edition Hardback (Kindle Locations 58897-58901, 58907-58908). Navpress. Kindle Edition.
As I read both beginning stories of Jesus in Mark and John, I notice their differences. Mark’s story reveals the humanity of Christ’s beginning in ministry. The author describes John the Baptist in many details, like the clothes he wore. John reflects on the Godliness of Jesus as the author never mentions Christ’s name, but refers to Him as “light” and “Word.” These two stories show a complete version of Jesus as 100% human and 100% God.
Even more, I read these stories and think about my own journey with my humanity and God. Mark reminds me of my faith and calling. When I was 15, I experienced a call to be a pastor with a rush of total assurance and peace while hearing (in a very loud worship venue) the words from God, “You must be a pastor.” It is still a high point in my faith journey!
Just 3 years later, I also experienced wilderness during a time when I felt alone and unworthy of love. Entering college allowed me freedom which I wasn’t ready to face, and in the end, I began depending on unhealthy things and people, resulting in unhappiness. I felt I was being pulled further from God during this time of trial, similar to Jesus’ wilderness. How can such a mountaintop of faith leave me quickly in a valley of doubt and darkness?
Then, after two years of feeling so far from God, I had an opportunity to connect with God better than I had my entire life. Within four months, I was able to see just what John was attempting to say-–Jesus is both light and the “Word” (logos - meaning ‘reason’). During my third year of college, I studied abroad, the first time I was truly independent. While there, the only support I could find was in God when feeling homesick or lost (spiritually and physically) which allowed for several things to happen “at once” (Mark 1:12). "At once,” my two years in complete and utter darkness started to shine light. "At once,” my “Word” (logos; reason) for living was no longer the negative things I was consuming but Christ at the center. “At once,” I realized that I am a child of God, dearly loved, and a source of happiness for God (Mark 1:11). When we begin to lean on God in times of darkness, we see Christ as the light and reason of our lives. We begin to notice our worth through God’s eyes. We are God’s child, dearly loved and a source of God’s happiness.
We will go through darkness, just as Jesus did, no matter where our faith lies currently. However, light can slowly shine when we lean on God in that darkness. We will slowly realize how God sees us as loved. Have you connected with the humanity of the story of Christ in Mark whether through a call story or a wilderness? How can you lean on God in dark times to experience Christ as light and a reason? What do these stories teach you of your faith today?
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