Monday, September 03, 2018

Devotional: Introduction and Identification of Jesus: Mark 1.1-11

In the Gospel of Mark the reader gets to experience Jesus as  the disciples experienced him, from the ground up. The disciples (especially Peter who is generally seen to be the apostolic voice behind this Gospel) are confronted with an amazing human being who keeps busting the categories they try to place on him. He heals the sick and raises the dead, overcomes the spiritual forces of darkness with just the power of his word and presence and yet, with this divine power, ministers to the poor and needy in a self-sacrificial way that eventually leads to his death. Mark invites us to participate with the 1st disciples in getting to know this amazing man who is much more than just a man.

But, he starts out, in the introduction, to lay out for us quite clearly who Jesus is. In verses 1-8 he identifies the man Jesus with 5 superlative terms…

  1. He is the Messiah (1.1) , the Christ. he is the one who would fulfill Israel’s hopes for a coming righteous king who would accomplish all of God’s covenant promises and provide the completion of the Abrahamic blessing to bless “all the families of the earth.”
  2. He is the Son of God (1.1). Mark is not messing around with the question of the Deity of Christ. While the disciples had to figure it out little by little, he lays it out plainly for his readers right at the beginning.
  3. He is the YHWH of the Old Testament. (1.2-3). Mark quotes Isaiah’s promise of the coming of YHWH to his people as being fulfilled in Jesus. It will take the church fathers hundreds of years to work out the implications of this issue, but the bottom line is that Jesus is YHWH come in the flesh.
  4. Mark then moves to the prophetic ministry of John the Baptist for the next two descriptions of Jesus. John is the “messenger,” predicted by Isaiah who will announce the coming of Yahweh. He announces that “one stronger then me” is coming. Jesus is that strong one. John was the greatest of the prophets, but Jesus came with the full power of God because he is God (1.4-7)
  5. Finally John announces that Jesus is the one coming to distribute the Holy Spirit to all human beings to prepare and enable men and women to live the life of the age to come. (1.8)

This is a very tall claim so Mark provides us with confirmation in verses 9-11. John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit and God the Father all identify Jesus of Nazareth as the guy who is described by all the terms of Mark 1.1-8. The heavens open to announce that God has returned to live with his people, and the presence of the Spirit and the voice of God the Father confirm it.

Ultimately, real Christianity is not about what we do for God, but about what he has done for us in Jesus Christ. Jesus has all the qualifications to provide everything we need for life and godliness. We can “relax and know that he is God” and his faithfulness will get us through our day and into eternity.

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