PP: We’re going back to the future, and will cover the gospel of Mark – it’s fast and furious, action oriented, the first and shortest gospel account. Pay particular attention throughout the gospel as to who people think Jesus is…and ask yourself at the same time, who is Jesus to you? And because it is a little more straightforward than Joshua, my explanations will be more brief, and please feel free to submit your own observations and insights, even if they are totally different from my own!
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
3 “a voice of one calling in the desert,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’ ” 4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John the Baptist’s ministry was a movement in itself, a crazy prophet coming out of the wilderness to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom, baptizing people in the river Jordan. It even says that the entire Judean countryside came out to see him, and all the people of Jerusalem. We shouldn’t forget that John the Baptist was an incredibly important figure in Biblical history, of whom Jesus says, “There is no one greater than John the Baptist.” He was a great prophet in the same spirit as Elijah.
But what is even more remarkable is that this entire ministry is a ministry just of preparation, of getting people ready for the coming of the Savior, of Jesus Christ. An entire ministry that drew thousands of people, had a baptism based on confession of sins…all just in preparation for Christ’s coming.
This is kind of like a huge parade with massive flower floats and balloons and men on stilts, and the last guy says, “We are only the parade to announce the parade which is coming NEXT!” Man…you know the next parade is going to be incredible. And so we get a taste of the importance of Jesus, that something BIG is happening here, that even John the Baptist is only a messenger of who is to come, someone whose sandals he is unfit to tie…
1. The presence of Jesus Christ in the world, and in our lives, is a big deal, one that required an entire ministry of preparation! In what ways can we prepare and get ourselves ready to meet Jesus (at church, at fellowship, in our QT’s, etc.)?
2. How do you feel about the opportunities you have to meet Jesus in your life (church, bible study, small group, QT, etc.)? Is there a sense of expectation and excitement, as we read in Mark? If yes, what makes certain avenues more effective than others? If not, why do you think this is so?
3. John the Baptist’s role is essentially that he ushers Jesus’ presence into the world. In what ways can you imitate this ministry, and bring more of Jesus into your world: your dorm room, your class room, your relationships, your family, your school?
4. One of the greatest men of the Bible felt unfit to tie Jesus’ sandal – and so we get our first glimpse of who Jesus is, a great Lord. How does your conception of Christ compare to John’s? In what ways in John’s attitude a proper, or even helpful one?