Grace for Your Day January 15

In his commentary on the Gospel of Mark, John MacArthur writes:

No narrative is more compelling, and no message more essential, than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the greatest story every told because it centers on the greatest person to ever walk the earth. The history of His earthly ministry is perfectly recorded in four complementary accounts – written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Their writings, known collectively as the four Gospels, provide a factual record of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Matthew and John were apostolic eyewitnesses to the events of which they wrote; Luke thoroughly investigated the details of our Lord’s ministry in order to produce his testimony (Luke 1:3-4); and, according to early church tradition, Mark wrote his gospel based on the preaching of the apostle Peter. Though penned by different men, these four accounts harmonize perfectly, providing readers with a full-orbed understanding of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ …

Having introduced his account as a royal proclamation of the divine King (Mark 1:1), Mark continues his narrative by introducing the king’s forerunner, John the Baptist. Mark’s initial focus on John, rather than Jesus, might seem surprising to modern readers. But it is perfectly in keeping with Mark’s purpose (to present Jesus Christ as the divine Servant King) and would have been expected by his First Century audience. Earthly monarchs in the ancient world invariably sent official messengers before them to prepare the way, announce their coming, and make the people ready to receive them. So also, the arrival of the divine king was preceded by a royal herald who clearly announced His coming…

No First Century Jew wanted to be left out of the messianic kingdom. And so the people of Israel flocked from the cities into the wilderness in order to hear from this rugged, countercultural prophet… Multitudes from Jerusalem, Jericho, and all the country of Judea came to hear John, to confess their sins, and to be baptized by him. By confessing their sins, the people agreed with God that they had broken His law and needed to be forgiven. But in the end, this revival proved to be largely superficial. Sadly, the nation that flocked to John at the peak of his popularity would later reject the Messiah to whom his whole ministry pointed…

John’s message summarizes the heart of the gospel, brining us back to Mark’s use of the term in Mark 1:1 when he tells us that this is “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”. The gospel is good news – the glad tidings of a new king who is brining a new kingdom. The new king is the long-awaited Messiah.

He is God Himself. His kingdom is a kingdom of forgiveness, blessing, and salvation. It comes to those who repent. And those who do will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. This gospel is the culmination of all past redemptive history and the door to all future glory. And John the Baptist, the faithful herald and forerunner, had come to announce his arrival.

The reason I mention that is because this week we are talking about “The Ministry of John the Baptist” in Mark 1:2-8 since that is how the Gospel of Mark begins. He does not start with Jesus’s birth or His genealogy but with one of the most interesting characters in the Bible. According to verse 6, John was clothed in camel’s hair and ate locusts and wild honey which means that he wore the clothes of a vagrant and had the diet of one.

Yet Jesus said in Matthew 11:11 that “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arise anyone greater than John the Baptist!” Why? What made John so special? He was special because he proclaimed the coming of the Messiah. It was his job to tell the world that the Son of God had come to the earth in order to save us from our sins and there is nothing greater than that.

John the Baptist reminds us that “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways” (Isaiah 55:9) because many of us would not have thought very highly of a man like this. We would have probably despised him but, in the eyes of the Lord, he was someone to be remembered which is why we are going to set aside some time to study him together this Sunday morning.

The service will begin at 9:30 and the sermon will be recorded and placed on our You Tube Channel afterwards for all those who cannot make it in person. May the Lord bless you and keep you until then.

- Jeremy Cagle