The gospel is good news—even great news! It is the good news of the fulfillment of God’s promises through the coming of Jesus. Mark begins his gospel by declaring that Jesus is “the Son of God,” the one whom Israel had been waiting for. The people had been waiting, and now they were called to prepare the way for the Lord.
- How would you prepare if you knew someone important was coming to visit you?
Read Mark 1:1-15
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand;repent and believe in the gospel.”
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
- Verses 2-3 come from two Old Testament verses—one from Malachi and one from Isaiah. What do these verses have in common?
- How is John’s message of repentance (changing or turning away) and baptism (washing clean) a means of “preparing the way” for Jesus? How would you explain that to a young person?
- Are there any specific issues or actions in your life that you have repented of in the past? Are there attitudes or actions you need to repent of now? Be specific. How could you do that practically?
- In this passage, there are two statements made about Jesus (vss. 7, 8, 11). Who made these statements? Make a list of everything these verses say about who Jesus is. What is your response to this list of the character and nature of Jesus?
Responding to God
Repentance means to change one’s thoughts and actions regarding an issue or action in our lives. For those who follow Christ, repentance is to allow him to change our hearts and move us in a direction that is in line with his will. Christ’s message is the same for us today as it was 2,000 years ago. Jesus wants us to realize that he is at work around and in us (vs. 15), and all we must do is “repent and believe in the gospel.” It’s more than a bedtime prayer or ritual at the dinner table; it’s a condition of the heart. Through repentance and faith, we can all be forgiven, made new, and washed clean.
- Spend some time sharing with God the things in your life that need change. Tell God what you plan to do to “repent,” and ask God for his grace and strength to help you along the way.
- Thank him for his unfailing love and forgiveness. Ask God for his forgiveness if you have not.
- Ask God to grow your faith in his grace and forgiveness.