The Gospel Begins in the Wilderness - Mark 1:1-13


We all know what it’s like to be fooled by a fake. Have you purchased an item such as a watch or shoes or a purse only to realize after using it that it was a cheap imitation? What were the clues that led to you realizing it was a fake?

Many people have had an experience with the church or a version of Christianity that has left them confused and hurting.  But could it be that their experience was with an impostor, a knockoff version of Jesus? The Gospel of Mark introduces readers to the Original Jesus. Whatever one thinks or believes about Jesus, I should be based on the real person, not on the product of our particular religious culture in the late modern era.
Mark’s gospel will help answer three questions: Who is Jesus? What is he doing? And What is the appropriate response to him? In the introduction, he clues his readers into the first question.  Who is Jesus? Answer: He is the Christ, the Son of God.  The rest of the gospel will unpack what exactly that means!
Mark 1:1-13
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 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. 7 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.”

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
  • What is your response when someone says they are giving you something “real” “authentic” “genuine” or “original”? Do you believe them? Are you skeptical? Why do you think you respond the way you do? 
  • If Mark really does introduce us to the actual Jesus, who lived, breathed, and walked the dusty ground of Palestine 2000 years ago, then what should our posture be in reading this Gospel? How should we compare who we discover who Jesus really is with the version of Christianity that we are experiencing in our current cultural moment?

  • The first thing Jesus did after being baptized and affirmed by his Heavenly Father was to go into the wilderness to face 40 days of temptation.  Why do you think Jesus would start off his ministry with this sort of trial and tribulation? 
  • What does the wilderness teach us about what Jesus came to earth to do? If the wilderness is in “us” what does Jesus going into the wilderness mean about his mission?
This week pay attention to all of the different versions of Jesus people in your community have. Ask God to show you afresh who the real Jesus is in your study of the Gospel of Mark.  Behind to imagine how the real Jesus might impact your community and replace all the cheap versions of him.  How might the Original Jesus impact your relationships, your workplace, your neighborhood?

Father God, we thank you that you see and you know. We thank you that we can come to you in prayer and pour out our souls. Father, we praise you for who you are. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.