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The Good News Begins

Mark 1:1-8

Pastor Josh Burrill

7 July 2024




I. The Proclamation


   - Gospel - message of good news


World, there’s good news!  Despite the despair, the depression, and the destruction….despite the sin, the sorrow, and the sickness. Despite the corruption, injustice, the global uncertainty, it’s going to be okay if you are rightly aligned to Jesus….in fact it’s going to be more that okay….its going to be glorious!


Mark has delivered to us a quick flurry of events in human history that will change the world forever. 


“The Gospel is in itself a message of salvation, a message of comfort, a message of hope, a message of joy; a message that should always thrill to the tireless music of a psalm.” G. Campbell Morgan, Mark, 12-13.


The good news is that God has put into motion His gracious and expansive plan of salvation in a decisive way with the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  


- Jesus - Jehovah is Salvation


“recent studies indicate that most popular male names among Palestinian Jews living between 300 BC and AD 200 were 1, Simon, 2, Joseph, 3, Lazarus, 4, Judas, 5, John, and 6, Jesus.” O’Donnell, 2




God’s appointed agent upon earth. His anointed one (prophets, priests, and kings were anointed), the emphasis being on His being the promised king from the line of David.  The Servant of the Lord in Isaiah, the one anointed by God’s Spirit to bring about salvation and God’s reign on earth.


In Mark 8 Jesus asked his disciple who people thought he was, and then he asked them who they thought he was. “Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 


All of this Messianic data in the OT… pages and pages of it pointed to and met with this Jesus of Nazareth in history...  In effect, a biography of Jesus’s life had been written hundreds and thousands of years before He was born.  This was the essence of the apostles teaching, especially in the Jewish synagogues later one. 


Peter in Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”


Paul in Acts 9:22 “But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.”


 - The Son of God


This title bookends Mark’s gospel, as it is pronounced from heaven in 1:11 (You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased) and is proclaimed by the Roman centurion at the cross in 15:39 (Truly this Man was the Son of God!)


In between those two references, the fact is acknowledged by demons (3:11, 5:7, cf.1:24 “holy one of God”), is referred to by Jesus himself (12:6-8, 13:32), and stands as the basis before the Sanhedrin for Jesus’s crucifixion (14:61-62), as they considered such a claim to be blasphemous. (Again the high priest asked Him, saying to him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “what further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think? And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.)


 - The Beginning


“I’m going to tell you the story of good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and here is how it begins….it begins just as the prophets said it would….with one who would be sent to prepare the way for God’s salvation.” 



II. The Prophets


- Malachi the Prophet


“Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming?  -Malachi 3:1-2a



- Isaiah the Prophet


“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. “Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the Lord’s hand Double for all her sins.” The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” -Isaiah 40:1-5


 - Their United Testimony


A messenger to prepare the way….a voice crying in the wilderness. Prepare the way for the LORD/Yahweh to come. 


Notice that these OT references refer to the coming of God, and Mark is going to point us to the figure of Jesus, implying in the strongest possible way the divinity of Jesus….Yahweh’s salvation. 



 III. The Preparation


- The Wilderness



Jerusalem at least 32 km from Jordan River (Mellieha to Marsascala) and about 1200 metres above it. (dead sea at 430m below sea level). Difficult journey down and harder going back! (Mellieha only 150 metres above sea level)




It was in the wilderness that God formed His people, demonstrated His power, gave His law, and led them to the promised land. 


Over generations, they rebelled against God’s law, and were expelled from the land.  Yet, because God is a covenant keeping God, He promised through the prophets that one day He would gather His people from the far corners of the earth and lead them Himself into the land, purifying them, and bringing judgment upon their enemies.  (cf. Ezekiel 20) 

There is significance to the fact that the gospel begins in the wilderness (and this could be an entire study in and of itself)


- The crowds


All came to John

      Pharisees and Saducees (Mat 3:7)

      Tax-Collectors (Luke 3:12)

      Soldiers (Luke 3:14)

      Rich and poor (Luke 3:10)


      What was happening here was truly phenomenal! 


 - The Man


-A preacher (voice crying in the wilderness….a messenger)


-An illustrator (he baptized those indicating repentance upon hearing his message)


-A seeming outcast  - dressed in camel’s hair, and leather belt.  Not shopping for his food, or even growing it in his own garden….eating off the land….locusts and wild honey. 


Douglas O’Donnell writes, “We do not read that all those people were coming to John because he dressed well, spoke well, and was offering a nice stay in a wilderness resort, which included a quick dip in the pool, Rather, they came to a man dressed in camel’s hair to be washed in a dirty river in the Middle East because God was at work through his word.”  Mark, 15.


 - The Message

 - Repentance


Malachi - “Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the Lord of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming?  

Repentance means openly acknowledging sin, recognizing the offence that it is before a holy God, and pleading for His mercy as you turn your life around in the areas in which you have sinned.


2 Corinthians 7:9-11

“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”


There is a sorrow over sin that leads to regret…but goes no further, except in its untreated state, to eat away at your inside, often leading to a bitterness that affects many areas of your life.




There is a sorrow that leads to repentance, in which you turn the ship around and go with all your might in the right direction, proving yourself to be clear in the matter in which you once stumbled.



When honest confession is made (v.5), true repentance becomes visible (Matthew 3:7-10)


“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”



What do you need to repent of this morning?  We aren’t in the presence of a roughly dressed preacher who had honey dipped locusts for breakfast and standing next to a desolate river…..but we are about to hold in our hands the emblem of the shed blood of Christ, whose death occurred to secure the cleansing of those sins we repent of.


1 John 1:9 “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”


John’s message was one of repentance, and it was to highlight that the Lord was coming. 



- The Coming One


John realized he was not worthy to even be this person’s most menial slave. 


This coming one would baptize people with God Himself.  


John’s baptism symbolized cleansing, Jesus’s baptism would actualize cleansing and effect eternal life.





              The story of good news has begun, and Mark intends for us to lean forward with anticipation for what is about to come.


              Of course, many of us are not new to this story.  We are familiar with it, but may it never lose its edge….may our hearts always be tender and our sins quickly confessed, and our repentance always evident, and our hearts more grateful, and our worship more vibrant.  


              God has given us His gospel….His good news

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