Stop for a second and think, what was happening 400 years ago? No electricity, no computers, no cars, no A/C, and a whole lot of “not” else. In fact, in 1617, the Pilgrims had only landed at Plymouth Rock the year before. The United States of America was over 100 years away from becoming a nation.
When Mark penned the words, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” we recognize that God had been “silent” (verbally) for about 400 years. Just like modern history over the last 400 years, a whole lot had changed, and during all of that time, no prophet had spoken in Israel. Just like Genesis 1—the first “In the beginning”—as Mark puts pen to pad, God has made an immeasurable shift in salvific history.
If you are a faithful Jumpstarter, you know I am a fan of the Bible Project series on YouTube. As we start off the book of Mark, it does a great job setting the book of Mark in the context of its story. Check it out!
The book of Mark is one of movement—nobody sits still for very long. Jesus is establishing a “way,” a path to follow. This “way” is the path of discipleship. Over and over we are going to see demonstrations, illustrations, and even direct teachings on “the way of Jesus’ disciples.”
As we open in Mark 1, we see this amazing quote, referencing John the Baptist that establishes the theme of “the way,” “’Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”
In the ancient world, before important people did any traveling, royalty and such, servants would go ahead of them and prepare the path taken by the VIP’s. Sometimes they would even work to establish new, straight pathways. Taking this physical illustration, the prophets applied this to the spiritual work of John the Baptist; he would prepare the way that Jesus would establish in the most unlikely way—through the cross.
“The way of discipleship” demands a response. In fact, chapter 1 repeatedly illustrates the call and response theme. Jesus is unique in every capacity. As he miraculously works, observe how the people respond. That’s the point! This whole book begs the question, “How should I respond?” Like the video says, Mark strategically weaves the story of Jesus to ask this question. Mark’s opening line shows us his response, Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God—thus, although the “way of discipleship” may have a cost, no cost is too high.
In the comments, tell us, how does the uniqueness of Jesus encourage/challenge you in your walking of “the way of discipleship?”
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate