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.” – Mark 1:1-8
[NOTE: I’m not certain when I last worked through the gospel of Mark. But even if it’s been relatively recent, I intend to do it again – for my own edification, and hopefully for yours, dear reader.]
I’m ready for some good news. How about you? The discovery of a COVID-19 vaccine. The sudden and decisive down-turn in the infection rate of the virus. The discovery of a treatment that renders the virus nearly impotent. Any of those would suit me just fine. How about a totally shared mutual understanding between black lives matter, blue lives matter, police, politicians, and media types? That would be truly good news, yes? A return to normalcy within the next 30 days and still an awareness of life’s values that are not sustained by mere busy-ness would be nice as well. You can add your own list of good news candidates.
I doubt that any of those will be happening in the near future. And that’s why the Good News of Jesus Christ, Son of God is such good news. This Good News transcends every human trouble and worldly challenge. It spans all of time. It covers all of creation. It moves over all the nations of the world. It offers peace, hope, life, and eternal blessings to all people. Black. Blue. Red. Every color of the – dare I say it? – rainbow. For This Good News of for all people.
And it starts with a messenger who calls for people to get ready for God to come. “Make his paths straight,” he says – quoting from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. It was – and is – a call to repent. This is something we all need to do.
We start by repenting of a haughty spirit and an arrogant attitude. For humble repentance is the foundation of all true relationships – especially our relationship with God. We have no claim on God’s favor. We cannot require God to do anything as though we could call him to task. But in humble repentance we can approach God with confidence in his goodness, mercy, grace, and love. He receives us, welcomes us, blesses us. He will save us.
Whatever difficulties and challenges we face will be overcome in the rule and reign of Jesus Christ, Son of God.
It begins with a man. A crazy man. A prophet. The voice of one in the wilderness. He’s calling to us. God is coming to us. This is the beginning of the Good News (the “gospel”). There is much more to come. Be sure of this: there is much more Good News to come.