Commencement of the Gospel

In the ministry of Jesus, the kingdom of God has arrived, beginning with his baptism by John the Baptist – Mark 1:1-3. 

Sun Rising - Photo by David Jusko on Unsplash
The gospel of 
Mark commences with a straightforward declaration based on the Hebrew Bible that provides the scriptural link to the ministry of John the Baptist, and it sets the stage for Christ’s messianic mission. In this way, Mark opens on a distinct note of fulfillment. Jesus is the promised Messiah of Israel - [Sun Rising - Photo by David Jusko on Unsplash].

Implicit in the declaration is that the long-awaited “season of fulfillment” has commenced, first with John the Baptist, and especially so in the ministry of Jesus – (Hebrews 1:1, Revelation 1:1-3).

Beginning” is the first word in the passage, and its position in the Greek sentence makes it emphatic. The sudden appearance of John marks the beginning of the “good news” about the kingdom of God.

THE BEGINNING


  • (Mark 1:1-3) - “BEGINNING of the gospel of Jesus Christ. According as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way. A voice of one crying aloud, in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, straight be making his paths.”

Other New Testament passages also link the “beginning” of the gospel to John, the one who “prepared” the way for the arrival of the messianic king. And the term “beginning” is a deliberate echo of the creation story in Genesis:
  • (Genesis 1:1) - “In BEGINNING, God created the heavens and the earth.”
  • (John 1:1-3) – “In BEGINNING was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
  • (Acts 1:21-22) – “It is needful then that of the men who accompanied us during all the time in which the Lord Jesus came in and went out over us, BEGINNING from the baptism by John until the day when he was taken up from us” (Also,  Acts 10:36).

Thus, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus have inaugurated the promised New Creation and the redemption of humanity.

And Christ’s arrival on the banks of the Jordan carries universal implications far beyond the hopes of the Jewish nation. And thus, for all mankind, it truly is “good news” – (Romans 8:20-23, Revelation 3:14).

GOOD NEWS


The Greek term rendered “gospel” or euangelion means “good news, glad tidings” (Strong's #G2098). It is a compound of the prefix eu (“good”) and angelion (“message”).  English words derived from it include “angel” and “evangelist.”

In the New Testament, the usage of euangelion is based in part on key prophecies in the book of Isaiah. For example:
  • (Isaiah 52:7) – “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings GOOD TIDINGS, that publishes peace, that brings GOOD TIDINGS of blessing, that publishes salvation, that says to Zion, your God has become king.
  • (Isaiah 61:1-3) – “The spirit of My Lord Yahweh is upon me because Yahweh anointed me TO TELL GOOD TIDINGS to the oppressed; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, to them who are bound the opening of the prison; to proclaim the year of acceptance of Yahweh.

And the “good news of Jesus” concerns the imminent arrival of the long-promised salvation and reign of God in the person of His Son. The genitive construction can mean either that Jesus is the content or the herald of the good news, or both.

The term “Christ” is not his last name but the designation of what he is, the “anointed one,” the Messiah of Israel.  But to his neighbors, he was “Jesus, the son of Joseph,” or simply “Jesus of Nazareth.”

MESSIAH


In the Hebrew Bible, two categories of men are “anointed,” priests and kings. The anointing is performed by pouring olive oil on the head of the man, thus setting him apart for a specific office or task - (Leviticus 21:10-12, Psalm 89:20).

Jesus” is the anglicized spelling of the Hebrew name Yeshua or Yehoshua, the latter better known to English readers as “Joshua.”

Moses prefixed the syllable Yah from the divine name, Yahweh, to the original name of Hoshea (“salvation”) to form the compound name Ye-hoshua, meaning, “Yahweh saves,” or “salvation of Yahweh” - (Numbers 13:16, Deuteronomy 32:44).

Among first-century Jews, the term “Son of God” had messianic and royal connotations. It was part of the promise of kingship made to David, and he became God’s “son” when he was installed on the throne of Israel. The Messiah was expected to inherit his throne and rule from Mount Zion - (2 Samuel 7:14, Psalm 2:6-9, Hebrews 1:5-14).

Mountains - Photo by Anton Lammert on Unsplash
[Photo by Anton Lammert on Unsplash]


As written in Isaiah.” The prophecy cited is a composite of verses from the books of ExodusIsaiah, and Malachi, although the bulk is found in Isaiah:
  • (Exodus 23:20) – “Behold, I SEND A MESSENGER BEFORE YOU, to keep you by the way, and to bring you to the place which I have prepared.”
  • (Isaiah 40:3) – “The VOICE OF ONE THAT CRIES, PREPARE IN THE WILDERNESS THE WAY OF YAHWEH; make level in the desert a highway for our God.”
  • (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; and the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, behold, he comes, says Yahweh of hosts.”

The first quotation found in Exodus is appropriate. Originally, it was a promise to keep Israel safe in the “wilderness,” and to lead her to the Promised Land. Thus, in Mark, Jesus is the true Israel who is poised to traverse the “wilderness” and lead God’s people to possess the promised kingdom.

THE GRAND STORY


The gospel of Mark has threaded other themes from the history of Israel into his account. But the ministry of the Messiah is far more than a replay of that ancient story, or an attempt by Jesus to succeed where Israel failed, though he certainly does do the latter.

Instead, in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the plan of Yahweh to redeem humanity and the creation itself from bondage to sin, Satan, and death has begun to unfold.

The messianic mission of Jesus of Nazareth is far larger than the nation of Israel and encompasses territory and lands that extend far beyond the borders of the old land of Canaan.



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