The opening sentence of Marcus must have been very surprising to his first readers. Gospel means Good News. This word was in vogue for a message from the Roman emperor, who was worshiped as a god.
He was seen as a savior. Mark is now going to tell about the Messiah = the Christ = the Anointed One, Jesus, who is the Gospel Himself.
The special interest shown in his messenger John the Baptist (Mark 1:5) shows how special the Gospel-in-the-flesh is. John reminds the people a lot of Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). Dressed in camel hair, he calls for conversion.
Malachi had prophesied that Elijah will come before the Messiah (Malachi 4:5,6). If John is Elijah, the coming of the Messiah is near. It had been well seen by the people. John is Jesus’ forerunner (Mark 1:2-4; In John 1:23, John the Baptist himself says of the text from Isaiah (Isaiah 40:3) quoted here in Mark 1:3 that he is the one).
John marked the transition from the old to the new covenant. To Israel he is the prophet, but to Jesus he is a humble servant.
John spoke of the coming of the Messiah and insisted that the people should prepare: “The Lamb of God who takes away sin” (John 1:29) is approaching!
Anyone who acknowledges his sins may be baptized. He who comes after me will really forgive sins. And He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, those who were baptized by John were baptized again. Now in the name of Jesus, the Messiah (Acts 2:38).
John’s baptism points forward to the atoning work of Jesus, baptism in Acts 2:37-41, and later point back to it.
So our baptism is different from that of John. Our baptism also refers back. But there is an agreement. Both baptisms derive their value and meaning only from the work of Jesus! There is forgiveness of sins because of His shed blood on Golgotha. Our baptism symbolizes the washing of all sins, and the rising in a new life.
So you may see yourself this way: dead to sin, but alive to God in Jesus the Messiah (Romans 6:4,11).
▪︎ Thank God for being a new creation in Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).
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