Mark 1:1-3 Recognizing the Place to Begin: Our Acknowledgment of our own Need to Turn our lives around.

Mark 1:1-3Amplified Bible

The Preaching of John the Baptist

The beginning of the [facts regarding the] good news of [a]Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written and forever remains in the [writings of the] prophet Isaiah:

“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You,
Who will prepare Your way—

A voice of one shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
[b]Make His paths straight!’”

The Word of God for the Children of God. Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Amen.

“Are we there yet?”

Parents will often hear these words repeated several times from their children as their family travels on a long trip—or even a short one to the grocery store.

On school field trips, bus drivers will hear these words chanted by the teachers trying to keep the children interested and busy and engaged in the days events.

Sometimes, even us more mature adults will mimic these children as we go on planned shopping excursions with a group from one of our community centers.

Adults generally just want to have fun they have that awareness that they will eventually get to their destination by the time promised by the bus company.

Young, younger children, however, have an underdeveloped sense of time and distance that prevents them from understanding how long a journey will take.

Both God’s young, younger, youngest, maturing and mature adult children often have an underdeveloped sense of the obvious and not so obvious gap that definitely exists between their lives and God’s kingdom vision too.

Whatever stage of human development we are at, we would like to think and we would love to believe that we are each decent people who just need a few minor adjustments – a tweak here and a little tweak there, to become ‘right with God.’

We might just find ourselves rationalizing, “If I lose a little weight, try a little harder to be nice to my neighbors, and “if I budget better, give a little money to this and those charitable causes, then I’ll finally, really have my life together.”

In reality, there is much more that keeps us from recognizing God’s ideals.

Clean House is a home makeover and interior design television show, originally broadcast from 2003 until 2011 which aired 10 seasons of programs on the Style Network.

Clean House is a reality television show about three trained specialists who go into homes that are a mess.

In each episode, there is clutter everywhere.

In some homes there is so much junk that visitors must remain standing because the furniture is covered, indeed, buried, under all kinds of stuff.

The Clean House specialists face the challenge of convincing the residents to get rid of their junk.

And the strange thing often is—even though it makes their lives miserable, they yet remain reluctant and adamant don’t want to get rid of the clutter!

You and I can be the same way in our relationship with God and our neighbors.

We say we desperately want to clean things up, and we can see what’s got to go.

But so often we cling to things that make life miserable for us and for others.

The distance between speaking our “promises,” actually bringing them to the stage where we’re visibly pursuing and ideally engaging in them is significant.

Since sin entered the equation way back when on the Garden of Eden, resulted in our being unceremoniously thrown out, cast away from all of God’s ideals,

God created such an immeasurable, undefinable gap between His ideals and His beloved children yet still desired relationship- to keep His beloved children from straying too far and irretrievably away God, directly into a lifelong journey down Satan’s path, created within us an innate sense of emptiness and longing.

One day, God knew, His beloved children would want to return to His Ideals – on a 24 hour a day, seven day a week, every single last moment – permanent basis.

But God also knew His beloved children would need His help if they desire life under the most ideal circumstances anyone could ever dream, hope to imagine.

So, with an indescribable charity, God sent His Son into the world to save them.

John 3:16-17Amplified Bible

16 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] [a]only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him.

Except there was one inescapable truth God knew needed to be addressed first:

John 1:9-10Amplified Bible

There it was—the true Light [the genuine, perfect, steadfast Light] which, coming into the world, enlightens everyone. 10 He (Christ) was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.

The gap between God, His charity and His ideals, His beloved children and their charity and ideals, was so great as to be fully, completely and utterly unrecognizable.

The distance between God’s ideals and humanity’s ideals was so great that Jesus could not merely come into the world without an advance preparation.

The arrival of such a one to “prepare the way of the Lord” was prophesized:

Malachi 3:1-3Amplified Bible

The Purifier

3 “Behold, I am going to send My [a]messenger, and he will prepare and clear the way before Me. And the Lord [the Messiah], whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; the [b]Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderer’s soap [which removes impurities and uncleanness]. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi [the priests], and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord [grain] offerings in righteousness.

As promised from Malachi 3:1-3, God sent someone to get us ready for him.

John the Baptizer, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, came to help people recognize that the sin condition of this world needed a major turnaround.

He called God’s people to repent, to experience a new way of life (not just a few minor adjustments) that would be signified in baptism.

John the Baptizer was sent ahead of Jesus, helped people to realize the problem with their idea of life before they could be prepared to see the solution in Christ.

In the opening verses of Mark, we meet John the Baptist.

John the Baptizer was God’s appointed messenger, a specialist whose task was to get people to “clean house,” to get prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ.

John’s message was simple: “Repent!”

To repent means to recognize the moment for change, turn back to God and confess our sins, clear the junk out of our lives, do what God’s Word teaches.

There are at least Five Basic Points From Mark (Mark 1:1-3) for us to learn from.

Wait a minute. How can anyone get 5 points from 3 verses? 

This is the beauty of Mark’s simplicity.

It is jammed packed.

Because it is so succinct, we miss much of Mark’s message of “preparation.”

Before I sketch out the 5 points, let’s first consider the narrative text.

It is largely an Old Testament quote – Malachi 3:1-3.

Mark does not use many of these, so when he does, we should really prepare ourselves to stand up, wake up, an gear ourselves up to give maximum notice. 

“As it is written” is a phrase that prepares us for the quotation.

It is not immediately about Jesus, but about John the Baptist.

The point?

Something new and exciting and life and earth and heaven shockingly different has moved from the distant horizons of time to the forefront of human activity:

This gospel is new, truth is coming, and it has been part of God’s plan all along.

For four hundred years it has been prophesized through Malachi’s prophesies.

We never know God’s timing.

Sometimes it seems as if he moves quickly.

Other times, God requires us to be patient.  

God requires our most immediate attention because God’s Truth has finally arrived and the facts and God’s messenger – John – are all presented here.

Now onto those 5 (five) critical to learn points. 

  1. Capturing the word gospel allows Mark to make a point. The Good News is a historical event. The Good News of Jesus Christ is no longer an abstract idea. It is definitely not fiction, not anyone’s made-up story. It undeniably happened.
  2. It happened by being born in flesh and blood. Jesus, the Christ. The Good News inextricably connects the perfect ideals of God to flawed ideals of humanity—to us. Briefly, life isn’t always the worst possible news – Jesus Christ is Good News.
  3. Its brevity is free of any window dressing. In its raw- in your face, matter-of-fact opening statement, Mark immediately communicates the Good News is basic and uncomplicated and from beginning to end, from start to finish – from Alpha to Omega – the absolute God spoken maximum truth.
  4. While basic, this Good News is not an out-of-the-blue sort of thing. No, the Good News is inexorably connected to God’s Plan from the start of all ages.
  5. Mark’s hard-hitting introduction is not meant to teach or inform. We are left wondering what he means by presenting this unadorned, eternal, basic plan of God, which took place on earth- connecting God to humankind, to us. The true answer: The Good News is meant to prepare us for God’s call and challenge us. 

The Gospel calls to us to turn and follow.

The Gospel challenges us to prepare for something enormous and miraculous.

The Gospel challenges us to prepare ourselves and our neighbors to live for God.

Mark led by the Spirit of God is brilliant.

His use of the word’s gospel, Christ, and Son of God delivers points #1 – #3.

Point #4 is delivered by the use of the Old Testament quote. 

Taken together, with its brevity, it is a call and a challenge.

The question is: Are we now prepared to actually prepare ourselves for God, to be prepared by God for service to our Neighbors – preparing them for His life?

God patiently awaits our response ….

And presents to us the Gospel of Mark for us to actually begin our preparation to prepare to give to Him our well prepared response to His covenanted summons.

In the name of God, the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Spirit,

God of surprises you call us
from the narrowness of our traditions
to new ways of being church,
from the captivities of our culture
to creative witness for justice,
from the smallness of our horizons
to the bigness of your vision.
Clear the way in us, your people,

that we might call others to freedom and renewed faith.

Jesus, wounded healer, you call us
from preoccupation with our own histories
and hurts to daily tasks of peacemaking,
from privilege to pilgrimage,
from insularity to inclusive community.
Clear the way in us, your people,

that we might call others to wholeness and integrity.

Holy, transforming Spirit, you call us
from fear to faithfulness,
from clutter to clarity,
from a desire to control to deeper trust,
from the refusal to love to a readiness to risk.
Clear the way in us, your people,

that we might prepare all our neighbors to know and live the simplicity, the beauty and indescribable and undeniable power and danger of the gospel.

Gloria! In Excelsis Deo! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen.

Author: Thomas E Meyer Jr

Formerly Homeless Sinner Now, Child of God, Saved by Grace.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: