Prepare the Way

The Gospel of Mark – Part 2  

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – July 7th, 2019

Intro:

  • This morning is the second installment of our series through the Gospel of Mark.  Last week I introduced this Gospel by diving into who Mark was, what is unique about this Gospel and some of the key elements of the text.  The opening line reads like this:

Mark 1:1 ESV
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 

  • This beginning is a “new beginning” of a “new era” with a “new covenant.”  These new things spring out of and are built upon the first beginning, the first era and the first covenant.  This foundation is important in understanding God, the world, ourselves and their interaction with each other.  This beginning is the revelation of the gospel which is the “good news” about Jesus Christ who is the Son of God.
  • Mark then makes the connection with a prophecy from the Old Testament saying that this prophecy had been filled by John the Baptist and the coming of the Jesus Christ the Lord.  

Mark 1:2-6 ESV
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'”
4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.

God fulfills His word

  • All of the promises and prophecies from the word of God will be fulfilled – every single one of them.  You see this time and time again in the Old Testament, and you see this time and time again in the New Testament.  And this will also be true for the promises and prophecies we are currently waiting on to be fulfilled.  Fulfilled promises and prophecies give us confidence for the ones yet unfilled.  The truth of Heb 6:18 that “it is impossible for God to lie” (NIV) gives us confidence in trusting God and His word. We must live in the light of what He says, because what is written will be fulfilled in the course of time, at the right time. 

2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 

  • God has reasons for doing what He does at the time that He does it.  His perspective of time is not the same as ours.  His perspective of “soon” is different than our understanding of “soon.”  There were no prophets or words of the Lord for 400 years before John the Baptist showed up.  And the prophecies that were filled took hundreds of years until they happened. So, wait for Him to act and trust that His timing will be perfect based upon is will and His wisdom. 

God sends a messenger

  • This messenger was sent in accordance with the two connected prophecies.  Mark stated, “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,” however, the first line that was quoted (v.2) is from Mal. 3:1 and the second line (v.3), is from Isa. 40:3.  It was common in their time if linking two or more quotes from Old Testament scripture together, the one who was most prominent would get the citation. 
  • The messenger that was reference in Mal. 3:1 is the same one that was named in Mal. 4:5-6, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers (ESV).” 
  • John the Baptist is this “Elijah” that was to come before the Lord.  This was foretold by the angel of the Lord to John’s father Zechariah while he was in the temple praying. 

Luke 1:16-17 ESV
And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

  • This connection is also evidenced by John dressing the same way as Elijah as recorded in 2 Kings 1:7-8 ESV He said to them, “What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?” 8 They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”  And also, in that he kept himself pure by the law in what he ate (Lev. 11:21) as did Elijah.  These connections between John and Elijah were clear for those who were looking for them.   Jesus Himself, pointed this out: 

Matt 11:13-14 ESV
For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.

God prepares the way

  • The task of John was to “prepare the way of the Lord, make His path straight.” He did this by “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  After the people heard the preaching of John, they confessed their sins and were baptized.  The way people are prepared to receive Christ is coming to an understanding that they are sinners in need of forgiveness.  Without this understanding and conviction, people will never be ready to receive Christ. They have to know that they have broken the laws of God and they are justly guilty and need forgiveness.  
  • The word of God cries out to us in our wilderness of sin. Our modern day “gospel” is “come to Jesus and He will make your life better,” verses “cling to Jesus for the forgiveness of your sin and the salvation of your soul.”  Don’t soften the blow and guilt of people’s sin but call them to repentance and faith in Christ.  Pray for those who are lost to be convicted of their sin.  This is the point that people then turn to Christ.  Think about your own testimony and the testimony of those that you know.  Is this not the case? 
  • John knew his role and pointed to the one who is greater.  He was not drawing people to himself but preparing and pointing people to Christ.  All true preachers point to Jesus.  We must take the position of John the Baptist who said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30 ESV).

 Mark 1:7-8 ESV
And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 

God sends His Son

  • All of the Bible points to Christ.  It is indeed the “good news” of the Gospel. John knew who he was, and he did not even consider himself worthy enough to even serve Christ.  John held Christ in the highest place. God was faithful to His word to send “the Word” into the world that we may live through Him.  “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 ESV). This is the key verse in Mark. 
  • These verses talk about two different baptisms: one being done in water because we have repented and received salvation; the other is done in fire for the equipping and empowering of the believer.  

Acts 1:8 ESV
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

  • These are indeed two separate events.  We see this in the book of Acts 2,8, 19 (these things are detailed out in 1 Cor. 12-14 and Rom. 12). 

 1 Cor 12:1 ESV
All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 

  • We are giving these gifts as God wills for the purpose of being witnesses to who Jesus is. 

Conclusion

  • Live in the knowledge that God will always fulfill His word. What is written will be accomplished.
  • Know that God must convict people of sin in order for them to receive Christ.
  • Ask God to baptize you in with His Spirit to equip and empower you in ministry.