The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight”’,
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
I really like Mark’s gospel, it’s known by some as the Gospel of action – it doesn’t meander, its one jam-packed event after another, no waiting around, just “Pow! Pow! Pow!” and then on to the next event.
The beginning of the Gospel sets us up for how it is going to continue, and it is powerful – Mark starts with “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ”, it is just the start, and not just the start of the book, but the start of everything, the start of hope that has endured for over two millennia.
In 13 short verses a lot happens, we get a declaration, a reference back to Hebrew scripture, we meet John the Baptist – who would win “I’m a Celebrity” without even trying, John prepares the way, we see Jesus, Jesus is baptised, the Spirit drives Jesus to the desert to be tempted for 40 days, and we break off as the angels are looking after him.
I know that it might not carry the pomp and splendour of Matthew’s gospel or the creative imagery of John’s gospel, but it gives us everything that we need to know Jesus, to want Jesus in our lives, to become followers on the Jesus Way. We are inspired by this Jesus who shows us how to live.
I encourage you to sit and read the whole of Mark’s gospel in one sitting, maybe do it on zoom with others, it will take 2-3 hours but could bring unexpected changes in your faith and mindset. It will at the very least inspire you and offer the light of hope in a world that continues to feel dark and uncertain.
Let us embody the Hope of Mark’s gospel as we engage with the world.
God of action, you sent Jesus to be our example of how we should live and move through the world. Remind us of the Hope we have through Jesus when things feel impossible, and help us freely share it with those around us without judgement. Amen.
Kirsty-Ann Mabbott, Church Related Community Worker, Ansty Road United Reformed Church, Coventry