Introduction to the
GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MARK
At the beginning of his Gospel, Mark gives us a wonderful little summary of the life of John the Baptist. It goes like this: "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: 'Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You.' The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.' John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached saying, 'There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Matthew does it differently. He focuses on the wonderful One Who was to come after John. in the first chapter of his gospel, he tells us what the angel had told Joseph about the Son of Mary - even before He was born. The angel had said, "Thou shalt call His Name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins." A little fuller understanding can be ours if we are aware that the Name Jesus, in Hebrew, is Jeshua, which means "Jehovah saves." So Matthew was really saying the same thing Mark was saying when he called Him "Jesus Christ, the Son of God." That divine Sonship of Jesus is in fact the very heart of Mark's Gospel.
In reading this Gospel, though, we need to get more personal – we need to ask ourselves what we ourselves think about Jesus. According to Mark and Matthew, He is Jesus, He is Christ, and He is the Son of God. Is He those things to you? It will be very good for us to really understand what these names mean for us personally. I've told you what the Hebrew for "Jesus" means. The word "Christ," on the other hand, is just the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew "Messiah," which means "anointed One." Anointing is the special act of God to commission Jesus for His task on earth. So the personal question is, do you relate to Him as the divinely commissioned Savior and as your Lord sent from Heaven?
If He is these things to you, then you're also ready to admit that you need a Savior - One to save you from sin and judgement. In your heart you say to Him to Him, "Blessed Jesus, I need You. I am guilty of rebellion against my good and loving God. I want to end that rebellion now, and I'm ready to give myself over to You entirely.
But do you also recognize that He is sent from the very throne of God, and that He is commissioned (anointed) to be Savior and Lord? If you do, then you're also willing to say to God, "Holy God, I confess my sin. I come to Your Christ, and I want to enter His Kingdom. I want Him as Lord of my life."
So you're actually confessing that He is your Lord, and you admit that He wasn't your Lord previously. You admit that you tried to run your own life, be your own lord and master, and didn't want any interference at all. Now, though, you're willing to say, "Lord, I rebelled and went my own way, but now I surrender to You. Be my Lord, my King, and my Master henceforth - in everything I do or think or say."
With these thoughts, we've begun our study in reverse order – with the application. There's a reason. We can't really receive any benefit from the study of Mark's Gospel without that application. I pray you've considered these things. If so, then let's continue.