The Message and the Messenger

Posted: July 28, 2013 in Mark

Mark 1:1-8, “The Message and the Messenger”

It’s the 2nd gospel history found in our Bibles, but it’s very possibly the 1st one written.  Different theories surround the dating of the Gospel According to Mark, though all agree that the book had to have been written prior to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.  One particular theory has the book written in the early 50’s, with Matthew and Luke using it as source material for their own works.  Other theories have the gospel of Mark written later (around 65-68AD) after the death of Peter.  There’s no doubt that Mark’s gospel is closely tied with Luke, and even more so with Matthew (around 91% of the books comprise the same material in the same order).  Yet with all their similarities, Mark stands apart and is not a simple retelling of what we’ve read elsewhere.

In terms of the author, the early church fathers were universal in their assessment that it was written by John Mark – the nephew of Barnabas who had accompanied Paul & Barnabas early in their missionary journeys only to bail out along the way.  Although his departure (and Barnabas’ subsequent desire to bring him along for another journey) was the cause of Paul’s & Barnabas’ parting of ways, eventually Mark found his way back into Paul’s heart again.  At the end of his life, Paul specifically asked for Mark to be brought to him, for Mark was “useful” to him. (2 Tim 4:11)

Of course, that begs the question: what is John Mark doing writing a gospel of Jesus Christ?  He wasn’t an apostle, like Matthew or John.  He doesn’t even name himself in the book at all – giving only perhaps the slightest mention of himself during Jesus’ arrest (and that is only a theory).  The history of Jesus that is written in the gospel of Mark isn’t Mark’s own history – it’s the history given to him by one of the 12 apostles: Peter.  According to the Church Fathers, Mark was in Rome at the same time as Peter.  As Peter continually preached and taught about Jesus, Mark was there recording the words, and organized them into the book we have today.  Thus although Mark moved the pen, we might say that the gospel of Mark was really written by Peter.  At the very least, these are Peter’s experiences and knowledge about the Lord Jesus that are recorded.

Although every gospel account is about Jesus as the Lord God & promised Messiah, Mark does seem to have its own specific theme that is shown throughout.  Whereas Matthew looked at Jesus as the King of the Jews who is also the victorious King of all the universe, Mark looks more at Jesus’ service than His authority.  Certainly Jesus is shown to be King Messiah – but the idea of the Messiah doesn’t come with as deep of meaning to the Roman Gentiles as it would to Jews in Judea.  Mark & Matthew were writing to different people, so it only makes sense there might be a few differences in perspective and priority.  In Mark, we see an active & working Son of God.  There is miracle after miracle, event after event, with the word “immediately” showing up over & over again.  This is no King who demands the universe bow to His every whim; this is a Servant-King who actively showed His love and compassion for His people, and gave all He had to reconcile them back to Himself through the cross and resurrection.

Of course, all of this starts somewhere – and for Mark, it begins with a message and a messenger.  The message is of course about Jesus, and it goes to the very core of His Person.  The messenger was the one sent to prepare the way.  It was a new day in the history of the world, and God wanted to get the people ready to hear the best news of all.

Mark 1:1–8
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

  • It’s a simple announcement that launches into Mark’s gospel, but it’s a profound announcement at the same time.  Please note that Mark is writing of “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” yet nowhere in this phrase does He mention the cross, the resurrection, any compilation of 4 spiritual laws, a sinner’s prayer, or anything of the sort.  We tend to reduce the idea of “the gospel” down to the method by which someone receives eternal salvation, but the gospel is vastly more than that.  Don’t misunderstand – to talk about the cross & resurrection is a vital part of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is why all 4 gospel accounts in our Bibles address them in depth.  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all show Jesus Christ as God, and how men & women can be reconciled back to God, receiving our eternal salvation by grace through faith in Him alone.  There’s nothing wrong with any of that & there is much that is glorious about that.  But – those truths alone are NOT the gospel.  The gospel is the good news of “Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”  The word “gospel” refers to a proclamation, usually of joyous news (such as a military victory or some other triumph).  This particular announcement is regarding the Person known as “Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
    • Here’s the point: the gospel IS Jesus!  It’s not just one or two things that He has done – it’s not some benefits we receive as a result of believing in Him…the gospel is far grander than that.  The gospel is the proclamation of Jesus Christ.  When we present the “gospel” to someone, we’re taking them to Jesus.  Jesus is not a means to the end (i.e. eternal salvation); He IS the end!  The news we proclaim is the news of Jesus Himself.  When we witness, we’re introducing people to Jesus.  When we make disciples, we’re inviting people to follow Jesus.  He IS the gospel.
    • How this ought to change our idea about witnessing & evangelism!  We’re not salesmen trying to convince people to buy into our “pitch” about salvation – we’re not presenting people with insurance away from hell – instead, we’re taking people to the Living Savior whom we know and love.  Our evangelism is simply an introduction of lost people with their Creator God who has reached out to them in mercy & grace.
  • Who is Jesus?  He is the “Christ, the Son of God.”  Although these are loaded terms, Mark doesn’t spend much time defining them (though it all becomes apparent soon enough).  Mark was likely writing to Romans who were already believers in Christ, compiling the histories that Peter had given to the churches there.  They knew who Jesus was already, but it’s not something that they would have taken for granted (nor should we).
    • Christ”: It’s been often observed that we think of “Christ” as being Jesus’ last name, but that’s not true.  Christ is not a name, but a title.  “Christ” (Χριστός) is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word that means “Messiah,” or “anointed one.”  This is the specific person chosen by God to fulfill the promises of God given to the nation of Israel, who would deliver the kingdom from their sin and give them victory over their enemies.  This is the specific person in prophecy who would reign not only as the perfect Hebrew King, but the King over all the world, who would receive homage and worship from every nation.  To address Jesus by the title of Christ is not to simply use a different word to refer to Him as a person, but to acknowledge that He is the King, and He is the fulfillment of prophetic promise.
    • Son of God”: To call Jesus the Son of God is not to imply that Jesus is somehow NOT God.  We might read that interpretation into the phrase today (and indeed, many cults make precisely that mistake), but that’s not a mistake that the original readers would have made.  To affirm Jesus as the Son of God is to affirm Jesus AS God.  He is not less than God, but He is not God the Father.  Jesus has a distinct role within the Godhead, and at the same time He is fully God in all respects.
    • Right from the get-go, Mark tells us everything we need to know about Jesus: this Jesus of Nazareth (of whom we’re about to be introduced) is Christ the awaited anointed King sent to save the world, the eternal Son of God who is God Himself!  GOD has come to us – He’s personally come as the prophesied King who will reign over all the world.  If that was all we ever heard about Jesus, it would be enough knowledge for anyone to turn to Him in faith…
  • Although Mark likely meant “beginning” to mean not much more than the beginning of his telling of the gospel, it’s a wonderful reminder to us that the gospel of Jesus is not ancient history, or something that concluded long ago.  The incarnation of Jesus had a beginning, but it has no end.  His work in salvation is complete through the cross and resurrection, but His love and grace that the cross demonstrated continues to this day & will continue throughout the ages.  Truly, the gospel has only just begun!

2 As it is written in the Prophets: “Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.” 3 “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’”

  • Before Jesus is shown, there is someone else mentioned first: John.  Before the King would reveal Himself, first there would be the herald of the King, sent to prepare the way and announce His arrival.  That was the role of Jesus’ cousin, John.  John the Baptist sometimes gets forgotten in the telling of the gospel today, but he definitely was not forgotten by the authors of Scripture.  All four gospel accounts show John at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry – his name is mentioned more often than most of the 12 apostles.  John’s role was vital in the eyes of the Lord, and of the early church.  This is the way God chose to prepare hearts to see Jesus, and through which God chose to reveal Jesus to the nation of Israel. John’s ministry is vastly more important than we sometimes give him credit – but even he would be the first to take the light off his own ministry and put it upon Jesus.  His whole role was to point people to the Christ. (We would do well to follow his example!)
  • Just as Jesus was prophesied in the OT, so was John – shown in two instances here. 1st prophecy: Malachi 3:1, "Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts." []  Contextually, God had gone over a lengthy list for how Israel had spurned the love of God, and corrupted true worship, receiving false instruction from priests who neglected their duties.  They should have been the messengers of God, but they failed & taught the people wrongly.  So God declared that He would send His own messenger – one that would prepare the way for the Lord Himself, Who would come to the temple in sudden revelation. … Under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Mark takes a bit of liberty with the verse, changing the “My & Me” to “Your & You,” which actually gives much clarity to the prophecy.  How would Almighty God come to His temple?  As incarnate Man.  This Man (who is equivalent with God) would have a messenger…and that messenger was John.  John would preach the pure message of God, uncorrupted by the lies of corrupt priests, and he would call people back to the true worship of God in preparation for His sudden appearance.
  • 2nd prophecy: Isaiah 40:3–5, "(3) The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. (4) Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; (5) The glory of the LORD shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”" []  The 40th chapter in Isaiah actually marks a profound change in the book, ending historical section in which Isaiah recounts how God acted in delivering Jerusalem from the siege of the Assyrian army (killing 185,000 Assyrian soldiers overnight) to looking forward in prophecy more directly to the promised Messiah.  God was speaking a word of comfort to His people, and as He began, it was proclaimed that the road be prepared for the coming King.  If the people thought they had seen the glory of the Lord with the defeat of the Assyrians, they hadn’t seen anything yet.  Something far better was coming – the King Himself was approaching!  Just as ancient kings had heralds that would announce their coming, so did the Lord God.  This voice would cry out in the wilderness, and call for massive changes to the landscape so that a road could be made way for the approaching Lord.
  • John was this messenger of the Lord – the voice in the wilderness that would announce the coming of the Word of God, the King.  He was prophetically sent to prepare the people.  After 400 years, the people needed some advance notice that their God would be coming to them, and John was sent as that forerunner for people to get ready.
    • Is your own heart prepared to see God the King?  Are you ready at any time to see Him & to serve Him?  The King has already come, and He will be coming again…

4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

  • How did John serve as the vocal messenger of God?  By “baptizing” and “preaching a baptism of repentance.”  The word means “immersion,” and probably should be translated that way.  Our English word “baptism” is simply the transliteration of the Greek (βάπτισμα).  The act of immersion itself known among the Jews, it was not invented by John.  The ritual act of “mikveh” was (and still is) used to demonstrate a change in spiritual status.  Gentile converts to Judaism would receive this baptism as a way of symbolizing their new life in the truth of God.  Other times, priests would immerse themselves prior to performing certain temple rituals, women would use the ritual washing after childbirth, etc. John took this ritual immersion and used it to show more than a temporary purification, but an entirely new beginning as someone prepared their heart to see the Messiah.
    • For us today, baptism is a bit different in that our baptism is our public identification with the Lord Jesus.  It certainly symbolizes new life (we are put in water like Jesus was put into the grave, and raised to new life again), but it’s more than a symbol of change.  It’s a proclamation that we are believers in Christ, and we are identified with Him in forgiveness & new life because Jesus identified Himself with us in our sin.
  • Of course John didn’t perform the act of baptism without teaching people about it.  He proclaimed the need for people to be baptized as he preached “a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”  The baptism of the people wasn’t to be a one-time meaningless event.  It wasn’t something done on an emotional level with no expected results.  There was a purpose to the ritual immersion: that people would repent.  “Repentance” isn’t a word used much today outside the church (and sometimes not inside, either!), and when people hear it, we tend to think of it as contrition.  As in, “I feel really bad that I did this, and I’m sorry.”  Contrition is good, but it’s not repentance.  Repentance implies a change – a turning.  Repentance is a change of mind as our thinking about certain things is fundamentally altered.  As our thinking changes, our actions follow.  Repentance is a change of mind accompanied with a change of direction.
  • The repentance had a purpose: forgiveness.  NKJV says “remission,” but the word is often translated “forgiveness,” and it refers to a “releasing.”  The people were released from the penalty that their sin incurred when they turned away from their sin and responded with the baptism that John preached.  Bring this back to the history of immersion – this was the act that Gentiles went through upon converting to Judaism.  Yet, John was calling Jews to repent, receive forgiveness, and be baptized.  It was as if Jews were becoming Jews all over again, as their hearts were being prepared to see the Messiah. … Technically, the phrase could be translated “a baptism of repentance into the forgiveness of sins.”  Just as people went into the water according to the preaching of John, so did people go into forgiveness when they acted in repentant faith.  They (and we) are bathed in the forgiveness of God and newness of life. 
    • BTW – notice how this baptism of repentance into forgiveness is directly tied in with John’s message about the coming Messiah.  First John is shown as the voice crying in the wilderness as a messenger of the Messiah, and that’s immediately followed up with John’s work in baptizing those who came to him.  IOW, the forgiveness that came along with baptism did not come as a result of the physical act of baptism itself, but it was linked with the message that John preached.  John preached JESUS, and the forgiveness of the repentant people came as a result of them being identified with the coming Messiah.
    • We’re not saved by our works – we’re not saved through religious rituals – we’re not even saved by the desire to repent from our sins & clean up our act.  We’re saved by the grace of JESUS, as we identify with Him, receiving His love and person into our lives as our Lord & God.
  • That John did all of this in the “wilderness” is itself interesting, in that he didn’t go to a major city.  Many prophets preached in Jerusalem, but not John.  Many prophets were sent all over the nation to all kinds of towns, but John was in the wilderness – away from the “religious” centers & from the people of influence.  If someone wanted to hear the word of God through John, they had to make an effort to go to him, and that’s exactly what many people did.  See vs. 5…

5 Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

  • Notice that their repentance was accompanied by confession.  They understood the fact that they had sinned against God, and that something needed to change.  But true repentance (a change of direction – the forsaking of sin) cannot come unless a person understands the reality of his/her sin in the first place.  That’s what confession is.  They agreed that their past actions were indeed sinful & that they were in need of forgiveness – specifically the forgiveness from the One that John preached (the Messiah).
    • Confession is vital both for the person initially seeking Christ, and for the person who has already trusted Christ.  We need to get past the idea that confession is some kind of ritual, only done by certain people in certain ways.  Confession is honesty.  The longer we hold onto our sins, unwilling to admit to God what they actually are, the longer we hurt ourselves.  We excuse our sin: “It wasn’t deception – it was just a little white lie.” “It doesn’t matter how they feel; they’ll get over it.” “It’s just for a moment, and I can always ask for forgiveness later.” “It’s really no big deal.”  Whatever excuse we use, it’s a denial that our sin is actually sin – and in each case, we’re calling God a liar.  We’re saying that what His perfect word has revealed is wrong, and that we ourselves are the final arbitrators in our lives about what is acceptable & what is not.  It’s all a self-deception, and confession cuts through all of that mess.  Confession is simple honesty as we agree with God that what He says about our sin is right, and that we are in dire need of His forgiveness.
    • And the good news is that Jesus grants it!  1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." []  There is no doubt that Jesus will forgive those who confess their sins to Him & simply ask in faith!  …
  • When Mark writes “all the land,” he’s using the term generically.  He doesn’t mean literally every person within the physical borders of Judea came to be baptized, but rather that people turned out in droves to this remote place in the wilderness to hear this prophet from God.  Even those from the religious center of Jerusalem (literally, “Jerusalemites”) did not think themselves too good to go to John.  They recognized his voice was empowered by the Holy Spirit of God, and they went to go hear what he had to say.
  • It makes sense that so many people went out to see John.  After all, there hadn’t been a prophet of God in the land for 400 years.  The Jews had sinned against God, been removed from the land in the Babylonian captivity, had been brought back, rebuilt the temple, rebuilt Jerusalem, and then the Scripture goes silent.  There was certainly an expectation that God would speak again (i.e. the prophecies regarding the messenger of the Messiah), but they didn’t know when.  And then out of the blue, John appears.  He doesn’t have a formal religious education – he doesn’t have an expected pedigree, but there is absolutely no doubt among the people (including the religious scholars of the day) that John was indeed a prophet.  He even looked the part.  See vs. 6…

6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

  • This would have been reminiscent of Elijah.  When some messengers of King Ahaziah reported a prophecy to him, the king asked about the appearance of the man who gave the prophecy.  They reported that it was “a hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist.”  Without hesitation, the king realized it was Elijah the Tishbite (2 King 1:8).  John took on a similar look, no doubt purposefully so.  John obviously was not the person of Elijah, but he certainly took on the role of Elijah, which Jesus affirmed (Mt 11:14).  John seemingly did not perform the physical miracles that Elijah was well-known for, but he same with that same authority, speaking forth the word of God without fear or hesitation.
  • He also lived his life in austere purity.  The idea that he ate “locusts and wild honey” is a reference to his life-long calling according to a Nazarite vow (like Samson).  John did not drink wine, just as his father Zacharias was foretold by an angel of God (Lk 1:15), and presumably he did not cut his hair, nor touch dead bodies (other aspects of a Nazarite).  Typically, Nazarite vows were temporary, showing a particular time of dedication unto the Lord, but for John it was total.  His whole life was set apart for this one purpose, and it was evident to all around.

7 And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. 8 I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

  • This was his message.  To be sure, John said more than this – Luke records at least part of one of John’s sermons, and the apostle John records some conversations that the Baptist had with his disciples regarding Jesus.  But what Mark writes was the basic core of his message.  He prepared the way of the Lord by speaking of the Person who would follow him: Jesus.  John received a lot of attention from a lot of people (they came from all over the nation), but John took all of that attention and refocused it upon the coming Messiah.  John was being hailed as a mighty prophet – some scholars even asked him directly if he was the Messiah himself – but John steadfastly refused to talk of anyone other than the coming King.  This was not false humility; it was his mission & calling.
  • Keep in mind, John WAS a mighty prophet!  That fact cannot be denied.  Even Jesus affirmed this fact – there was not born among women a prophet greater than John the Baptist (Mt 11:11, though even John had not partaken in the new covenant of the kingdom of God).  Think about that for a moment: in the mind of Jesus, John the Baptist was a greater prophet than Isaiah, Elijah, or even Moses.  John did not write a single word of Scripture, nor is a single miracle of his recorded – yet he was the greatest of all the prophets.  This indeed was a great man of God!  And with all that in mind, what does John say?  He doesn’t hold a candle to Jesus.  John was the greatest of the great prophets, but there was One coming after him who would be far “mightier.”  There is no human in all history that could be compared with the One of whom John spoke – this Person would be far more powerful than all.  So powerful & worthy would this One be that the great prophet John would not even be worthy to untie His sandal strap.  (Or in modern terms, untie His shoes.)  Understand that John didn’t pick that reference out of thin air – loosing a master’s sandal strap was something that was specifically pointed out in the Jewish literature as something that a disciple was forbidden to do.  A disciple could serve his master in all kinds of ways, but loosing a sandal strap was a bridge too far…it was too low a duty.  Yet John says here that he would not even be worthy to do THAT for the Lord!
    • John had a right perspective of the holiness of God.  We sometimes have a tendency of getting a bit too casual in our relationship with Jesus.  We receive His love, and we enjoy the benefits of being the children of God, and are grateful that Jesus would call us His brethren & joint-heirs.  All of that is wonderful!  And we do have a wonderfully intimate relationship with God as our close & personal Father. BUT…He is still GOD.  He is still to be feared, worshiped, and reverenced in the most profound ways.  He is infinitely more powerful than us, more holy than us, and higher than us. (Which is precisely the thing that makes our salvation in Christ so amazing!  This God reaches infinitely down to us in order to make us His own & to give us His holiness!)
  • Not only was the Coming One far mightier & more worthy as a Person, His baptism would be far mightier than the one John could provide.  The Greater Man would give a greater baptism.  All John could offer was water; the Messiah would offer the Holy Spirit.  Keep in mind, water wasn’t bad.  It was a good thing that people came out from all corners of Judea to hear the message of the coming Messiah, and respond in confession, repentance, and public baptism by water.  They were acknowledging their need for humility unto God & His Messiah, and they were preparing their hearts to receive the One who was yet to be revealed.  All that is good – but what Jesus would actually offer is far better.  The water baptism would be symbolic; Jesus offers the reality.  The water symbolized a changed life; the Holy Spirit actually changes lives. The water is just a means – a river/pool/baptismal is just a place; the Holy Spirit is a Person.  The Holy Spirit is God Himself, the 3rd Person in the Trinity.  The Holy Spirit was at work during Creation, and He is at work throughout the world today.  He convicts unbelievers of sin, righteousness, and judgment (Jn 16:8) – He gives those who believe in Christ a new birth into eternal life (Jn 3:5) – He brings us into the family of God by adopting us (Rom 8:15) – He seals us as belonging to God as a guarantee (2 Cor 1:22) – and much more!  He truly changes us, brings us into the body of Christ, and makes us new creations.  This is real – this is the work of the Spirit that only comes by surrendered faith in Jesus Christ.
    • Don’t miss out on the reality!  Today when someone is baptized in water, it is a beautiful thing.  That person is publicly proclaiming his/her faith in Christ, and showing themselves identified with everything that Jesus has done for him/her.  But without the reality of what the Holy Spirit does for a person when he/she actually comes to faith in Christ, the water baptism is empty – it’s meaningless.  Some people want to get baptized because they desire to be seen as a Christian, without actually surrendering their life over to Jesus as “Christ, the Son of God.”  They want the appearance of a Christian without Jesus as their King.  All that baptism can do is get someone wet.  What is truly needed is faith in the Lord Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit in their life to actually/truly baptize them into Christ.  THAT is when a real life change occurs & that is when a person’s physical baptism actually reflects something meaningful.
  • Interestingly, the preposition John actually uses is “in” – as in, “baptized you in water…baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”  It’s translated “with” because translators see the water & Spirit being used as the instruments/means of baptism.  And there certainly is a sense how that is true.  After all, without the Holy Spirit doing the work of His baptism in our lives, we would not be in Christ at all.  It’s His work, so He is the One that uses Himself to do it. (i.e. “with”)  Certainly it was true with John because he called people to come to the River Jordan for baptism, and that water was the means for the symbolism.  At the same time, it is completely accurate for John to say that he baptized people IN water, because that is exactly what he did when he immersed them in the Jordan.  Likewise, it’s also accurate to say that Jesus baptizes us IN the Holy Spirit (or BY the Spirit), because that is the work that takes place the very moment someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.  Paul alludes to this to the Corinthians when describing spiritual gifts: 1 Corinthians 12:13–14, "(13) For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (14) For in fact the body is not one member but many." [] We are immersed into the Holy Spirit Who immerses us into the forever Body of Christ.  What an amazing act of grace!  Think of who we used to be: liars, thieves, arrogant, lustful, hateful people (and far more!) – we were in rebellion against God, doing everything we could to either ignore Him or spite Him.  And yet when we came to faith in Christ, repenting from our sins & believing Jesus to be God, the Holy Spirit graciously immerses us into Christ, surrounding us with the love & mercy of God.
    • And the work of the Spirit even goes beyond that!  Beyond bringing us into the body of Christ, He offers to baptize every believer with power to live as witnesses for Christ.  The Spirit comes upon those who ask, and we are commanded to be continually filled with the Spirit, Who is able to equip every Christian for every task and trial we might face.

Conclusion:
Before Mark ever shows us the person of Jesus in his gospel account, Mark shares with us the gospel OF Jesus as this account begins.  There is a Message and His messenger.  The message is Jesus Himself: the good news that the long-awaited Messiah King has come, and this King is none other than God in the flesh.  The Son of God has come to reconcile Man with our Creator, and to fulfill all of the promises of God. 

The messenger was sent to prepare the way for this King.  Hearts are to be prepared – roads are to be made straight.  The people needed to be told that their King was coming, and this King was more glorious than they could imagine.  The greatest of prophets wasn’t even worthy to touch His shoes – and if that was the case, then people better take a hard look at themselves & get ready.

How were they to get ready?  Repentance – confession – humility – faith.  Ultimately, they were believe the message that was preached, looking forward to the coming Messiah, seeking the true baptism of the Holy Spirit that only He could bring.

That was them looking forward to Jesus (who would be revealed to them within days) – they didn’t know exactly what would happen, and yet they still came out in droves to be baptized.  We have the benefit of looking back over 2000 years, knowing exactly how Jesus revealed Himself as Christ the King, the Son of God.  We know the repeated teaching of Jesus that He is coming again, and that we need to be prepared to see Him at any moment.  How will WE respond?

  • You might need to confess sin that has been hidden away in your lives.  To stop making excuses & finally agree with God about its sinfulness.
  • You might need to move past the point of contrition & remorse over your sin & actually move on to repentance.  Change your thinking & change your actions.
  • You might need to receive a renewed perspective of the worthiness and grace of Jesus.  John wasn’t even worthy to loose His shoe, but yet Jesus still reaches out to us.
  • You might need to publicly humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and identify yourself in Christ through baptism.
  • You might need to place your faith in Christ for the first time today.  You have a chance to respond to the good news of His coming.  Today, open your heart with a straight path for the Lord by forsaking your sin & trusting Jesus alone as God.

 

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