The Gospel of Mark doesn’t start at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life with his birth, as other gospels do, but instead with the birth of his ministry life. The opening scene introduces us to John the Baptist with a brief backstory to set the stage.
This is prophecy fulfilled! John was the one given an important job to do. Jesus didn’t just appear; John prepared the way in the hearts of the people. The people knew they needed to repent and sought God’s forgiveness. Mark goes out of his way here to draw attention to the work John was doing to bring people to a new relationship with God by repenting of their sins.
John wasn’t a sleek, well-dressed preacher creating a buzz, but he was nonetheless drawing crowds of people to hear God’s message. And then appears Jesus. The very person John had been preaching about. “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”
How do you think John felt when he looked up and saw Jesus?
How would you feel if you looked up at this moment and saw Jesus standing in your doorway?
What I wouldn’t give to be on the banks of the Jordan River that day. God revealed himself. He was pleased with Jesus, his Son. Think of the emotions John was feeling. How about Jesus as he was about to begin the journey he came to earth for? Invigorated? Humbled?
The rest of today’s reading goes by like a flash, until John is arrested. Jesus took the baton, as it were, and we’ll walk with him over the next days in our reading of this Gospel.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank you that you loved us so much. You sent Jesus to live and die for us. As we walk through the Book of Mark, please reveal yourself to us in a new and fresh way. Whether we’ve read these stories many times, or this is our first time, speak to our hearts. Thank you for what you provided. Thank you for the freedom you have given me and the tools I have to share with others. You have called us to spread the good news to the ends of the earth. May we be ready for the challenge as John was ready to prepare the way for Jesus. In Jesus’ name. Amen.