1The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; 3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'"
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And 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. 6Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He 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. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
We opened with the responsive psalm:
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
1Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. 2You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin. (Selah)
8Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his faithful, to those who turn to him in their hearts. 9Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land. 10Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other. 11Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky. 12The Lord will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase. 13Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps.
Overview of Mark's gospel from last week...
Review and reminder: Mark's the gospel for the texting and tweeting crowd. Gospel originally was the returning Roman general's victory announcement of wiping out his enemies—a proclamation of death and destruction. Mark was the first to subvert that concept of gospel into God's victory of life over death, the triumph of resurrection.
With the season of advent the church begins a new year of grace and prepares for Jesus' birth at Christmas.
Luke's gospel starts out with genealogy and then moves onto the angel's annunciation to Mary, the birth of John the Baptist, Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, shepherds, angels... the traditional nativity manger scene.
Matthew's gospel begins with genealogy, an angel speaking to Joseph in a dream about Mary's pregnancy – " do not fear", the famous visit by magi from the east, flight into Egypt with Jesus as a refugee.
John begins with the pre-existent logos that's also a type of birth account.
Mark skips all that early stuff and brings us a wilderness scene of John the Baptist by the riverside.
Mark 1 is "the beginning of the good news..." is this chapter the start, or is the entire book of Mark with its 16 chapters the beginning of the good news? Probably! Because the good news continue for centuries, up until today in the 21st century as we become angels or messengers of the gospel!
Discussion of style, context, and content of the ministry of John the Baptist, Jesus' cousin. Locusts and grasshoppers in the bible are the same thing. John as a nature guy, outside the social and religious establishment, outside polite society. On the edges of the margins.