Mark – God is on our side!
Imagine winning a car, not just any car, but a 1966 Mustang at a car show. You only put your name and information on the website once, but somehow you knew you were going to win. A couple of days later, you are called, as expected and given the news that you are a finalist, in the top ten, whose names will be put in a box and drawn out. “Can you be there in person?”, for that is the only way you will win”, says the caller. You respond, “Of course! I will be there in 30 minutes.” Now imagine you are on the stage, at a car show where hundreds of people are watching. You and nine others are waiting, breathlessly, for the MC to announce the winner. The hand goes into the box and pulls out a name. YOUR name is shouted to the world as the winner! Are you speechless? Are you smiling so big your face hurts? Are you paralyzed for a moment? Do you remember that you were led to put your name in as a contestant?
Then you open the car door, while still on the stage, and sit in the driver’s seat. You are handed the car keys and told to drive your car off the stage! The very minute you put your hand on the door, God speaks to your heart, “I did this for you so you can pay off all your medical bills.” Later, the car was sold to a friend in another state who was watching the show on cable and saw that I had won. He bought the car. Paid in cash. Randy and I not only paid off our medical bills, we were able to give to our church and another mission to build a home in Haiti.
I nicknamed the car, “The Blessing”. God is always on our side in all situations. Don’t misunderstand. This was not a “name it, claim it” arrogant request to God. Rather it was obedience to His direction. You might not win a car but God will show up and show off in HIS way, in HIS time for You. We struggled away with those bills mounting so we would learn to be better stewards of what God had given to us. We learned from hard times how to trust God no matter what.
Now imagine my breathless excitement of telling the good news to everyone I knew about “The Blessing”. When you are truly excited, you go right to the bottom line to get people’s attention…”I won a car!” You forget the details at the moment. You just want to tell whoever will listen the good fortune of God’s work in and for you.
Mark, in his gospel does the same thing. Mark wasted no time in getting down to business–a single sentence introduction, and not a digression to be found from beginning to end. An event has taken place that radically changes the way we look at and experience the world, and he can’t wait to tell us about it. There’s an air of breathless excitement in nearly every sentence he writes. the sooner we get the message, the better off we’ll be, for the message is good, incredibly good: God is here, and he’s on our side! What a BLESSING!
The bare announcement that God exists doesn’t particularly qualify as news. Most people in most centuries have believed in the existence of God or gods. It may well be, in fact that human beings through the centuries have given more attention and concern to divinity than to all their other concerns put together–food, housing, clothing, pleasure, work, family, whatever.
But that God is here right now, and on our side, actively seeking to help us in the way we most need help–this qualifies as news. For, common as belief in God is, there is also an enormous amount of guesswork and gossip surrounding the subject, which results in runaway superstition, anxiety, and exploitation. So Mark, understandably, is in a hurry to tell us what happened in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus–the Event that reveals the truth of God to us, so that we can live in reality and not illusion. He doesn’t want us to waste a minute of these precious lives of ours ignorant of this most practical of all matters–that God is passionate to save us!
What amazing love! What a blessing to top all blessings! He is for us, not against us. God fights for us, for our love to be returned, and for His way to be trusted.
Let’s dive into the gospel of Mark with the same excitement and expectancy to hear God speak to us as He spoke to Mark.
Mark 1, NLT
John the Baptist Prepares the Way
1 This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.[a] It began 2 just as the prophet Isaiah had written:
“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way.[b]
3 He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’[c]”
4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. 5 All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 6 His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.
7 John announced: “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. 8 I baptize you with[d] water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”
The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus
9 One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him[e] like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.
14 Later on, after John was arrested, Jesus went into Galilee, where he preached God’s Good News.[f] 15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
SEE what I mean? In the first sentence, “THIS is the Good News about Jesus Christ…” then Mark continues to tell what the Son of God, sent from God did and is going to do for us.
Warren Weirsbe tell us, “Mark wrote for the Romans, and his theme is Jesus Christ the Servant. If we had to pick a “key verse” in this gospel, it would be Mark 10:45—“For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
The fact that Mark wrote with the Romans in mind helps us understand his style and approach. The emphasis in this gospel is on ACTIVITY. Mark describes Jesus as He busily moves from place to place and meets the physical and spiritual needs of all kinds of people. One of Mark’s favorite words is “straightway,” meaning “immediately.” He uses it forty-one times. Mark does not record many of our Lord’s sermons because his emphasis is on what Jesus DID rather than what Jesus said. He reveals Jesus as God’s Servant, sent to minister to suffering people and to die for the sins of the world. Mark gives us no account of our Lord’s birth, nor does he record a genealogy, unnecessary in regard to a servant.
John Mark, the author of the book, is the first witness (v. 1). He states boldly that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. It is likely that Mark was an eyewitness of some of the events that he wrote about. He lived in Jerusalem with his mother, Mary, and their home was a meeting place for believers in the city (Acts 12:1–19).
Dear Heavenly Father, Lord and Savior,
There are not enough words for the gratitude and love I have for you. Your work in us is always what we need most. Your love for us is expressed in surprising, incredible ways. All you ask of us is to say a committed, honest yes to You and walk humbly with You. I pray I will always say yes to You, even if at the time, I am overwhelmed by what You will require of us, for I know You are always for us, always on our side. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You are amazing. Teach me, still, for I am listening.
In Jesus Name, Amen