Mark starts his book with no action sequence or breathtaking flyover of the Jordan River, but with a few words of narration over a tight scene of leathery-skinned hands pushing a man’s head under the rushing water.
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Then the lens zooms out to reveal a rugged prophet baptizing an endless line of people from the country of Judaea.
As mighty a messenger as John the Baptist was, he was unworthy to untie the sandals of a man waiting in that line. He could only baptize the repentant with water. This man would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Three years later this man would die at the hands of these same countrymen and rise again to accomplish once and for all the “forgiveness of sins.”
John was merely a role player in the grand scheme of things. Unfolding was the greatest story ever told.
Stop to think. What is your role in announcing the Christ to others? Paul says, “How will they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14) At a time of extreme persecution of the church in Rome, while his memory was still fresh, Mark recorded his recollection of his mentor Peter’s verbal accounts of the words and works of Jesus.
There’s a sense of urgency in his gospel (watch for the word “immediately”) and this urgency should be ours as well. For the beleaguered believers in Rome under Nero’s thumb the end was near. It is for us as well!