Chapter 1

Preparing the way
Mark 1:1-13 (NIV)

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1 The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— 3 “a voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” 4 And so John came, baptising in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”

9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. 10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, 13 and he was in the desert for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with wild animals, and angels attended him.

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Mark 1:1
The beginning

Verse 1 of Mark’s Gospel says, The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. An outdoor paint advert claims ‘It does what it says on the tin.’ The label on Mark’s Gospel is: the gospel about Jesus Christ. ‘Gospel’ means ‘good news’ for the world about Jesus Christ. He is God’s eternal Son coming to earth to bring that good news. Expect to hear much about Jesus and what He can do for you! Here is good news for today in a world full of bad news!

Mark 1:2-8
The baptist

But first, meet John the Baptist, God’s messenger and prophet sent to prepare us for God’s message of forgiveness through Jesus. His rough non-designer clothes match his simple, rugged life-style.  He calls people to repent—a wholehearted about turn to God from wrongdoing. He immerses in Jordan’s river those determined to live changed lives by repenting from sin. The Bible calls that ‘baptism’. Humbly devoted to Christ, John stresses Jesus’ worth and power. He feels unworthy even to untie Christ’s sandals. John merely places people under water. Jesus places them under the life-changing influence of the Holy Spirit who will enter their lives. Though sinless, Jesus is baptised by John as His personal and public rejection of sin—the nearest to ‘repentance’ that this sinless Saviour can get. His baptism is also an example for us to follow. Additionally, it foreshadows the judgement for our sins which will totally engulf Jesus on the cross.[1] Jesus will then rise from death—like a baptised person rising from Jordan’s water into fresh air.[2]

Mark 1:9-11
The blessing

The Bible teaches there is only one God,[3] eternally in three Persons: God the Father[4], God the Son[5], and God the Holy Spirit.[6]  Each person of that Trinity now acts. Heaven opens when John baptises Jesus. Dovelike, God the Holy Spirit descends on Him. God the Father voices from Heaven His pleasure with His beloved Son. But Jesus will soon battle with Satan in real, personal and spiritual temptations.

Jesus alone is God’s eternal Son. Yet each sinner trusting Him as Saviour becomes God’s special child[7] in whom the Holy Spirit immediately begins His work, speaking through God’s word, the Bible, as it is read, studied or explained. The Heavenly Father’s help is always at hand in ongoing battles against temptation and Satan.

Mark 1:12-13
The battle

The Holy Spirit immediately leads Jesus into the desert for forty days of Satan’s most subtle and powerful temptations. Often in His life Jesus is pressured to sin, or ease His pain, or prevent His death on the cross. Jesus never gave in.[8]

Temptation itself is not sin. Jesus never sinned, but He was tempted.[9] Temptation often follows or precedes personal blessing. If you trust Christ, expect difficulties. But God is in control and will limit your temptations.[10] He will help you.[11] Satan is real, but God will keep you.

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[1]   .  1 Peter 2:24.
[2]   .  Romans 6:3-4.
[3]   .  Mark 12:29, 1 Peter 1:2.
[4]   .  1 John 4:14.
[5]   .  Hebrews 1:8.
[6]   .  2 Corinthians 3:17.
[7]   .  John 1:12.
[8]   .  Luke 4:1-15.
[9]   .  Hebrews 4:15.
[10]  .  1 Corinthians 10:13.
[11]  .  Hebrews 4:16.

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Questions on Chapter 1
Mark 1:1-13 Preparing the way.

A. What does ‘gospel’ mean? Who is the gospel about?   John 3:16   1 Timothy 3:16 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

B. Why is Jesus baptised?   Matthew 3:13-15   Romans 6:1-9

C. What evidence do you see of the Trinity—God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit—at work?   Mark 1:1-13

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