Here at Gospel+Intersections I will be using Sundays to break down short sections of Scripture showing how that passage brings good news and points us to the Messiah and Savior, Jesus. Believe it or not, the good news of a Savior is from Genesis to Revelation. And that is good news! It helps us to understand the heart of God throughout his entire story.
Also, this will be the way I try and memorize Scripture this year. I will be working on a different short passage every week.
This week let’s tackle Mark 1:14-15.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)
Quick Background of Mark 1:14-15
This passage is obviously found early in Mark’s interesting gospel account. Mark doesn’t begin with Jesus’ birth, he begins with Isaiah and Malachi. Wait! Are not Isaiah and Malachi Old Testament? Yes, they were prophets that lived several centuries before Jesus was born on earth. So why did Mark begin his gospel account with words from old prophets?
Hope for God’s People in Exile
The Isaiah passage is from Isaiah 40 which is the beginning of a hopeful string of phrophecy towards the end of Isaiah (chs.40-55). This passage launches hope into a people that were exiled (taken captive) from their homeland of Israel and were now living in Babylon. The question that was going through their mind was most likely not “why has God done this to us?” They knew why. It was their perpetual sin and chasing after false gods. They had broken covenant with God. God made a covenant with Abraham that he would give him offspring that would bless the world. And God’s covenant with Abraham’s people seemed to be in jeopardy. The question the exiled people of God were asking was probably more like, “What will come of God’s covenant with Abraham? How will we ever be a blessing to the world, now?” More on this in a minute.
Hope for the Oppressed
Malachi’s passage quoted in Mark 1 is from Malachi 3:1 which states “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.” That passage in Mark is attributed to John the Baptizer. But there is more to Malachi 3:1 than what Mark quotes. Any time the Old Testament (OT) is quoted in the New Testament (NT) we mustn’t assume that the NT writers are combing through the OT for some pithy statement that fits their theology. When a NT writer quotes OT we must look also at the OT context (verses surrounding the quoted verse). All quotes from OT in the NT are within a context. So, when Mark quotes Malachi 3:1 he quotes the first part of the Scripture because he interprets that to be referring to John the Baptizer; but when we go read all of Malachi 3:1 check out what happens:
Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)
What we see is that the Lord was returning to the temple in power; in might; in glory. We later see the Lord does indeed return to the temple—in the form of a man, the Messiah! And when he returned to the temple it was to act justly. He was going to clean up the temple system and bring justice to the oppressed (Malachi 3:4-5).
Again, interestingly we find within the context of the Isaiah 40 passage, Isaiah 40:5 which states “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” It was revealed—in Messiah, Jesus! You see, Mark is telling us that the time in God’s story through history to redeem of all of creation t setting through a set apart people with Messiah as their LORD has now been fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is now, here! And Jesus is inviting us inside.
Intersection: God’s Good News is He is Faithful to His Plan & is Inviting Us Inside
So, Jesus comes, preceded by John the Baptizer, not at a random time; nor with a rescue mission that was plan B since Israel failed. No! Rather, Jesus came as the predetermined plan of God from ages past to be the faithful Israelite, faithful to the covenant, born in the lineage of Abraham, so that he could establish the fulfillment of God’s covenant to bring redemption to a world gone wrong by making for himself a people marked out by faith to do the will of the Father. That is “good news” which is what Gospel means. Repent and believe that good news!
That news is what Mark’s gospel is about! That’s what every biblical gospel is about. In fact, as Jesus says in Luke 24, that is what the entire story of Scripture is about.
So, let me encourage you! The Kingdom of God is at hand! Repent, and believe in the gospel.