MARK’S GREAT SURPRISE
The prophet Malachi, and indeed the entirety of the Old Testament, ended on a promising yet strange note; “Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (Mal. 4.5-6).
Given 39 Books of the Old Testament, over 900 chapters and more than 600,000 words, from various authors, prophets, psalmists, and the like, it seems an awkward note on which to finish such a profound literary symphony. What might this ominous, yet declarative, statement mean? It actually turns out to mean a lot – in fact it means everything in terms of the hope it offers for man and the future of the world.
The first written Gospel, MARK, wastes no time telling us why. Somebody turns up, dressed in camel’s hair and leather belt, and eating nothing but locusts and wild honey, vehemently preaching in the wilderness of Judea. “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” (1.3) he says, which is a direct quote from another great prophet, Isaiah (Is. 40.3). This “messenger” is none other than John the Baptist, looking and sounding just like Malachi had prophesied some 400 years earlier.
But even more remarkable, beyond John’s arrival, call to baptism and repentance, was the PERSON who he was pointing to. This ‘someone else’ before whom “I am not worth to stoop down and untie the laces of his sandals” (1.7) now becomes clear, and it’s not very long before Jesus appears before John to be baptized.
Jesus is the person before whom John was preparing the way, true to Isaiah’s and Malachi’s prediction. At first, John is taken back, but succumbs to the will of God. Jesus is subsequently baptized, not for the cause of His being anointed by the Spirit but for the occasion to be anointed. The Holy Spirit splits open the heavens and comes upon Jesus, as double witnessed by the visual image of a dove and by the oral sound of a voice from heaven. And what does this voice say? “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mk.1.11).
And so comes MARK’S great surprise … wrapping his entire Gospel around “Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk. 1.1). From here on, MARK outlines, with excitement and clarity, just WHO this Jesus Son of God is. And the outline is truly remarkable … as he wants YOU to discover when you read through its pages and understand and practice its import.