Mark tells you what to expect from his gospel in the opening sentences. He launches immediately into his conclusion: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Whatever you may conclude from this story, there is no doubt what Mark thinks. The next sentence isn’t any less bold, a centuries-old prophecy of both promise and warning: Prepare the way of the Lord.
The first narrative is spare: John appeared…baptizing…and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins… The early dialogue, first from John, then from heaven, culminates in Jesus’ first words: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
You’re going to find that Mark has laid the groundwork for both his theology and his style. The narrative is quick and sharp. The word “immediately” is used 35 times. Mark’s Jesus is a character of action and direction.
In these first three chapters, the theme of authority takes shape, pivoting around the healing of the paralytic in chapter 2. Jesus acts to heal a man by declaring “Your sins are forgiven.” Some “scribes” who were present – these are the men who interpreted and taught the law – took issue with Jesus declaring forgiveness of sin, a role reserved by God alone. Jesus uses the opportunity to make His point about who He is, not only through words, but more so by how those words impacted the paralyzed man.
This is the first of many “sandwiches” in Mark, where one story wraps around another. It’s also an opportunity to highlight “the crowd” as a major character in this gospel. Pay attention to the reactions of those around the action, and to how Mark uses this character to offset the responses of the protagonists.
Our verse for this week is John 3:19: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”
Mark chapters 1 through 3. Now let’s read it!
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.