The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mark 1:1)
What is the “gospel?”
Technically, “gospel” means “good news.” But what comprises the “good news” from a biblical standpoint?
The reason this is important, before we hardly begin our study of the book of Mark, is because Mark opens with these words, “The beginning of the gospel,” then launches right into the story of John the Baptist.
This alone does not appear to be a problem, unless we remember the books or gospels of Matthew and Luke spend considerable time recording the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, before introducing the account of John the Baptist.
So what is the gospel? If it is only the good news of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, as recounted by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, then why does Mark sub-title his entire book with the word? Does the gospel include the birth of Jesus? Does it involve His teachings about the kingdom, including His powerful parables? What about the miracles Jesus performed, the events leading up to His death, and the moments right before His ascension?
Is it all a part of the gospel?
It is all good news. The drama of the gospel culminated on the cross and was confirmed by the empty tomb, but everything the gospel authors give us is supporting material.
From a timeline standpoint, Mark’s gospel begins with the initiation of Jesus’ ministry, at the time of His baptism by John. This doesn’t suggest Jesus was not tuned into His mission before this, as is evidenced by his conversation with His parents in the temple at the age of 12: “Didn’t you know I was supposed to be about my Father’s business.” Rather, this is the place Mark chooses to start…after Jesus had grown and was ready to publicly submit to His Father’s plan though His baptism in the Jordan River.
As we will discover in our study of Mark, there were lots of good things shared about Jesus’ life and message, leading up to His death on the cross. It is all important because it helps us understand why the news about Jesus was so good, and why He was the One who could rescue us.
This is the beginning of a three-year campaign by the King of Kings. It was time for Him to be revealed to His subjects. …And what better place than by a river where people had gathered to wait for His arrival.
I love beginnings because they tell us something about the magnificent nature of what is to come.
Dear God, prepare me for the good news. In Jesus’ name, Amen.