Scripture

Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2 as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,

    who will prepare your way”—

3 “a voice of one calling in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

    make straight paths for him.’”

4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Reflection

Growing up, my brother Shaughn and I loved spending the night at Mamaw and Papaw’s house. The bedroom we slept in had two single beds. It was an interior room without any windows so it got really dark and I especially loved that! I didn’t need a night light as a kid. I could sleep so deeply in that room...until Sunday morning came and Papaw came in playing the air bugle horn, flipping on all the lights, and yanking the covers off of two squinting grandchildren, gleefully calling us to get up and get ready for church. To our young, selfish sensibilities, this was a rude awakening and an unwelcome surprise.     

This is how Mark begins his telling of the gospel. It's a sudden and immeasurably massive event breaking into the world and everyone needs to wake up right now! Mark is very direct and intentional with the pace of sharing what he has seen and heard. As Mark begins his account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, he can’t begin to talk about Jesus without first showing us that His coming fulfills what has been foretold. Mark quotes the Prophet Isaiah to powerfully introduce John the Baptist who is this forerunner Isaiah describes to help people prepare for the gospel that is coming. 

This announcement isn’t completely unexpected. Many have been waiting for the Messiah to come rescue Israel from Rome. There was a hope and a way that Israel wanted the Messiah to come. Surprise! Wake up! Mark says. The Messiah is coming! The time is now. It’s unlike anything you could have anticipated. John is calling the people to come to him and receive a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The center for worship is shifting from the temple in Jerusalem to the wilderness with John in preparation for Jesus who will come and baptize with the Holy Spirit. The true temple is coming into the world and he is eternally begotten, not made. This is a surprise of cosmic proportions! 

Do you like surprises? When was the last time you were surprised? Can you recall a time when you were surprised by God’s grace in your life? How might you surprise someone with good news today?    

Prayer

Holy God, we believe in you. Help our unbelief. Increase our faith so we pray believing for mountains to be moved and thrown into the sea. Remove from us the crippling doubt of the enemy who seeks to keep us from your love. We are believing for miracles. We are believing for deliverance. We are believing for healing now in Jesus’ name. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen. (taken from Mark 11:22-26).