Mark: According To
Mark 1:14, 15
Beginning to Change the Focus
At first the crowds flocked to hear John the Baptizer thunder out his prophecy of the coming messiah and call for repentance. Upon Jesus return from the wilderness and the events that took place in Jerusalem, (see John chapter 2) Jesus and John worked near one another and both preached repentance and baptizing the people into repentance.
This concept of baptism by immersion was not a new concept. Non-Jews (Gentiles) that converted to Judaism were baptized and it was called being born again. We see this in John Chapter 3 in which Jesus told Nicodemus that he needed to become born again. Outwardly you could see how this could be quite offensive to Nicodemus who himself was a Pharisee a teacher in religious instruction and matters. But Jesus was looking at matters of the heart and realized that Nicodemus needed to have his heart changed a change that could only come from the washing away of sin in baptism.
But John the Baptizer had now been arrested and placed in prison. Jesus seeing the danger moved his mission field to the region of Galilee. And while in Galilee Christ spoke to the people “saying: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Let’s unpack this for there is quite a bit of misunderstanding as to what Christ was saying. The Jews of old misunderstood and today, I wonder if we to have misunderstood.
When studying the Bible and we come across a passage like this it becomes important to look around the verses before and even after, so we can properly understand what is being said. What has Mark just recently been talking about? Verse 14 states; “Now after John,” so one of the things talked about was John, and earlier in the first chapter of Mark we learned what John’s mission was, “to prepare the way.” His message was a message of repentance, and He baptized people who sought forgiveness for their sins. He even Baptized Jesus.
From the beginning of Mark until now the focus has been upon John who is preparing the way for another. This other person John feels so strongly about that he feels unworthy to even stoop down and put on this other person’s ankle strap. And he predicts this person coming will baptize not only with water, but by the Holy Spirit.
So when Mark states “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Mark is referring back to Daniel chapter 9:25 which is the prophecy that predicts when the ministry of the Messiah is to begin and he links it to the baptism of Jesus, which was performed by John and then as we saw before, blessed by the Heavenly Father who was well pleased. And at that time the Holy Spirit came down and rested on Jesus.
Jesus started His earthly ministry, preaching that the kingdom of God was at hand and asking the people to repent and believe in the gospel message.
Today, how do we know if people believe the gospel message? Their lives are changed! Who and what they were before is forever changed. We sometimes wish this was an instantaneous thing, but it is actually a process that will last a life time. But every day if we truly accept the gospel message then our lives today should reflect the character of Christ more today than it did yesterday and tomorrow even more than today.
Yet the Jews seemed to have misunderstood, the question is have we misunderstood the mission of Jesus? Let’s look at this in our next post.
Note on Picture: I thought it would be interesting to show where the believed site of Jesus baptism is located at and that baptism are still performed there today.