John the Baptist

The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” ’, John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’

The opening verses of the Gospel of Mark set the stage for the entire story of the life of Jesus. Mark is the earliest gospel, and scholars believe Matthew and Luke drew on it. It begins late in Jesus’ life, at the beginning of his ministry. The first verse announces the theme of the “good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” “Christ” and “the Son of God” both carry political connotations in their original context that may be obscure for modern congregations. “Christ” is well known as the Greek translation of the Hebrew term “Messiah,” or “Anointed One,” which refers to a king or priest. “Son of God” was not a “theological” term in our modern sense, but one of the political titles of the Roman emperors since Augustus.
Imagine you are fast asleep and then suddenly someone bursts into your room and blinding light wakes you up. The person then throws water on your face and shouts “Get up—it’s time to get up, you will be late!.” this is what the opening of Mark’s gospel is like for the Jewish people at the time of John the Baptist’s ministry. Many had been looking for a sign form God but they didn’t expect it to look like this wild man. Many were looking for the Messiah to lead them against the Romans and reinstate the Davidic line and return them to their former glory. They didn’t expect a prophet calling them to repentance!

  • Why is it “good news” that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the King, the Son of God?
  • What does it mean to spread that news in our world today?