Biblical Theology Briefings

New Beginnings

Andrew Reid


The sermon text: Issues in reading

In his Principles of Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1950), pages 137f., Louis Berkof maintains that as Christians interpret the Bible they need to work in a number of directions and should be guided by the following considerations:

  • The Old Testament offers the key to the right interpretation of the New.
  • The New Testament is a commentary on the Old.
  • On the one hand, the interpreter should be aware of minimizing the Old Testament.
  • On the other hand, the interpreter should guard against reading too much into the Old Testament.

I was reminded of the importance of the first and the third of Berkoff's guidelines in preparing to preach on Mark 1:1-15. While Mark is not often as blatant as Matthew in making links with the Old Testament, this is not true of the first fifteen verses of his Gospel where there are a number of clear quotations of the Old Testament. There are also a series of allusions to a number of Old Testament themes and events that combine with the quotations to set an amazingly rich theological context for the Gospel in general as well as verses 14 and 15 in particular.

In terms of understanding the manner in which I've framed and applied this sermon, it may also be helpful to note that this sermon was written to function not only as an introduction to an extended series on Mark's Gospel but also as an introduction to the Gospel itself.

What this passage is not about: False trails in the sermon

There are a number of false trails we can take in preaching on this passage. The first, very common, false trail is to be so concerned to apply the passage that we do not hear what it is that Mark himself wants to tell us. Some of the ways we might do this is to use the passage as a springboard for talking about baptism, Lenten observance, the example of Jesus, incarnational identity, the example of John the Baptist, repentance, or the nature of ministry. Many of these false trails essentially allegorise the characters or events in the story and don't allow our people to hear what Mark himself appears to want to convey.

Alternatively, we might note that Mark's account of the temptation is so abbreviated compared with what we find in Matthew and therefore go shooting off to that gospel in order to build on what is here rather than asking why Mark did or did not include what he has.

If one of the great dangers of preaching on the Old Testament is to turn it into moralism, surely one of the great dangers of preaching on the New Testament is to use it as a string of somewhat unrelated proof texts and to gravitate in our preaching to those texts which suit our purpose. In Mark 1:1-15, this might express itself in our grasping hold of verses 14 to 15 because of their richness in terms of offering a clear explanation of the critical nature of the coming of Jesus and its impact.

One way of handling this last issue may be that we decide to preach twice on this passage. In the first talk we could give the larger context and meaning of the passage and set verses 14 to 15 in this context. In the subsequent week we could then concentrate on these two verses. I have designed this sermon with this approach in mind.

What this passage is about: The difference Biblical theology makes

Mark 1:15 alone ought to alert us to the fact that there is something very special going on here. The notes about ‘the time' having come or ‘being fulfilled' and the reference to the ‘kingdom of God' call out for a larger Biblical perspective. As van Iersel puts it, ‘the text of Mark gains considerably in depth and meaning when it is read against the background of the First Testament' (Reading Mark, page 13). Iin commenting on Mark 1:1-14 he similarly notes that ‘it is impossible to really understand this part of the narrative if one overlooks how deeply it is anchored in the First Testament' (page 35).

Once we have grasped this and start reading the passage with this in mind, the allusions to key Old Testament themes stand out. Some of the more obvious ones are:

Verse 1

‘Christ' and possibly ‘the Son of God' (omitted in some ancient manuscripts). These terms are terms linked to election and messiahship (e.g. Exodus 4:23, 2 Samuel 7:14; Psalm 2:7ff, Hosea 11:1, etc.).

Verses 2 and 3

The quotations from Malachi 4:5 and Isaiah 40:3. Malachi 4:5 points to themes of the day of the Lord and the ministry of the prophet Elijah who was to herald that day. The Isaiah 40:3 reference points more towards consolation than a terrifying day of judgment as it draws on themes of exile and subsequent promised restoration. These quotations in turn place both John the Baptist and Jesus in a larger Biblical context.

The allusion to the prophet Elijah is heightened by the descriptions of the manner of John the Baptist and the content of his message in verses 6 to 7. It is also echoed in the provision supplied by angels in verse 13 (cf. 1 Kings 19:4-8).

Verses 3, 4, 12, 13

The references to ‘the desert' appear to allude to the wilderness experience of Israel in Exodus, which is then often referenced both positively and negatively by the prophets (e.g. Hosea 2, Amos, Isaiah 40). Positively, it was a place where the people of God experienced special intimacy with God. Negatively, it is a place where they failed to remain faithful to God. The forty days in verse 13 may echo the forty years of wilderness wanderings.

Verses 4-8

The theme of baptism with its link to cleansing, renewal, restoration, and the Spirit allude to promises of renewal found in such places as Ezekiel 36 and 37. These links with the prophecies of Ezekiel are heightened by similarities between the appointment of Jesus here and the call of Ezekiel in Ezekiel 1-3.

Verse 11

The allusion here to both Psalm 2 and Isaiah 42:1 ties together Old Testament themes of messiahship with those of the suffering servant. Jesus is designated by God as both the messianic king and the servant of God.

Verses 1 and 14

The term ‘gospel' (euangelion) is often described by commentators in reference to its use in the world of the New Testament, where the associated verb is often used to refer to the bringing of news, especially of a victory or some other joyous event and the noun or adjective can mean either ‘good news' or the reward for it. In the world of the New Testament, the term ‘gospel' is also particularly important in the emperor cult where it can refer to joyous messages concerning the emperor (e.g. news of his birth, coming of age, and accession).

Given the references and allusions to Isaiah 40 and 42 within Mark 1:11-15, perhaps we should also note the echoes of Isaiah 40 in the use of ‘gospel' as well. Isaiah 40:9 talks of one who ‘brings glad tidings' and uses the verb related to ‘gospel' (cf. Romans 10:15, which quotes Isaiah 52:7). Moreover, the plural noun is used in 2 Samuel 18:20-22 and the verb is used in 2 Samuel 18:31. Although the references do not appear to be the direct background to the term in the New Testament, they add further depth to our understanding of how the term functions. For example, in both 2 Samuel 18 and rabbinic Judaism, the term can refer to good news or even bad news. Furthermore, 2 Samuel shows us that the news can be good or bad for the hearer according to their point of view. For example, the news of Absalom's death is personally disastrous for David although it is good for Israel.

Verse 15

Although the term ‘kingdom of God' is not common in the Old Testament, the idea of the kingship of God is one that is fundamentally part of Old Testament belief and hope. God is he who reigns (Psalm 97:1; 99:1). It is God the king who appoints humans to rule over the world under his rule (Genesis 1:27ff; cf. Psalm 8) and after the fashion of his rule (e.g. Daniel 4:27). However, each of these appointees fail to exercise this kingship properly. This theme can be followed in the historical books, the Psalms, prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and the book of Daniel, where it is developed in a most striking and profound manner. There we find the hope of the people of God where God will demolish all false human rule, establish his own rule, and give authority, sovereignty, and everlasting dominion to the ‘one like a son of man' (Daniel 7:1-14).

A turning point in redemptive history

The accumulation of Old Testament references and allusions indicates that we are dealing with an event toward which redemptive history has been heading. We have in the ministry of Jesus the fulfilment of so many of the expectations of the Old Testament. Jesus is the one who does what Adam did not do and what Israel did not do. He is also the one who deals with the impact of their failures as he deals with sin and its consequences. He is the one to whom the prophets looked and the one who fulfils the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44).

Sermon shape and structure

A sermon is not the place to delve into the complexities of the references and the allusions. Rather than do this, I chose to try and give an big picture of what I thought was going on in Mark's presentation and to attempt to capture the sense of fulfilment and climax of God's redemptive purposes. I chose to do this by introducing some of the key themes from the Old Testament and then helping them see how Mark picks them up.

I begin by talking about crucial events in modern history, that is, those events which people remember because of the influence they have had. I then explain that ancient Israelites had their own crucial events and survey some of the ones that are of particular relevance for Mark 1. I then turn to Mark 1 and give a brief overview of the chapter by noting references to some of these events and how Mark is noting their fulfilment in Jesus. Finally, I apply the passage by relating the story of 2 Samuel 18 and drawing out some of the implications.

Application issues

The sermon here is difficult in terms of application. The thrust of the passage was on fulfilment and therefore I considered that the application ought to relate to this in some way. Moreover, the climax of the passage is clearly Mark 1:14-15. Lastly, I considered that the terms ‘gospel' or ‘good news' were so familiar to the hearers that it might be helpful to get them to think a bit more laterally about their meaning and impact.

In the end, I chose to approach the issue of application by concentrating on whether the great news of Jesus that is announced beforehand in the Old Testament, and proclaimed here as fulfilled, is indeed ‘good news' for them on a personal level. Because of the rather heavy going nature of the material in the bulk of the sermon, I thought this might be helpfully accomplished by drawing on the story of 2 Samuel 18 and how the news of Absalom's death was both good and bad news depending on the point of view of the hearer. This would then enable me to ask them to personally engage with these large concepts as well as introduce them to the whole gospel and explain some of what was coming in ensuing weeks.

The Bible Talk

As indicated above, I decided that the way to get people into the topic was to get them to think about crucial events in modern history. This would then lead to talking about crucial events in Biblical and redemptive history. I've left the talk the way that I usually write out my sermons when I speak rather than converting it back to paragraphs and written text. The headings represent the talk outline that they would be given in a handout.

Crucial events

I remember it as though it was yesterday.

It was lunchtime.

I was playing in the school playground at Coronation Primary School in Papua New Guinea.

Suddenly the loud speaker blared out, disturbing our play.

The announcement was short, sharp, and to the point.

JFK, the president of the United States of America, had been assassinated.

Millions of people from my generation remember that day.

They remember where they were and what they were doing at the time they heard.

The assassination of JFK was one of those crucial events of modern world history.

It is one of those events that capture an age.

For my generation there are three or four such events.

  • The landing on the moon.
  • For us in Australia, the dismissal of Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam.
  • The shooting of John Lennon.
  • The terrorist attacks on the United States.

These are the events that have shaped our world...

The events that mark our way.

Crucial Israelite events

Well, the ancient Israelites were no different.

They too had crucial events.

And these events marked out their identity.

They formed their self concept.

They told them who they were and who their God was.

Now, within the Bible there were a number of such events.

Today I want to concentrate on just a few.

At this point in the talk, I chose some specific Biblical themes that were not only important within Biblical history, but ones that would also be taken up within the text of Mark 1:1-15. In doing so, my intention was not just to inform them about the themes that would be taken up but to also attempt to lay the groundwork of human sinfulness which God's purposes in Christ seek to address.

The general thrust in discussing these themes was to raise the larger theme of human sinfulness and God's nature to be gracious. This laid a larger theological framework within which to set Mark 1. In other words, what happens in Mark 1 is God's answer to human sinfulness and therefore the fulfilment of the purposes of God and the realisation of the hopes of God's people.

Creation

The first great event of Israelite memory is the one recorded on the very first page of the Bible.

In Genesis 1 we are told that God is a creator.

He creates the universe.

And the pinnacle of his creation is human beings.

We humans are the creation of God.

As we turn the page from Genesis 1 we begin to find out a bit more about ourselves as human beings.

We find that we are created for relationship with God.

We also find that our nature in relationship to God is captured in one person - Adam.

And Adam is a rebel, a man who seeks to live independently of his Creator rather than in dependence.

Adam is like us - a man who wants to rule himself rather than be ruled by God.

In Genesis 3 we meet God again.

And we find that he is a righteous God who judges human rebellion.

However we also find him to be a God whose nature is full of compassion and mercy,

Exodus

If Genesis 1-3 tells us about God the Creator and about human rebellion, Exodus 1-20 tells us about God the redeemer.

In the early chapters of Exodus we find that God's people are slaves in Egypt.

They are suffering terribly under the persecution of the Egyptians.

And so they call out to God for deliverance.

And God hears and acts.

Through a series of dramatic incidents, he delivers his people.

He provides an Exodus - a way out of Egypt.

He shows himself to be a God who intervenes in history for the sake of his people and on behalf of his people.

For he is the God of compassion, mercy and love.

And in his compassion, he eventually brings his people into the promised land.

But on the way, they show themselves to be just like Adam.

They refuse to trust.

They decline to obey.

They rebel against God time after time.

And again God judges.

But again his mercy triumphs over judgment and he brings his people into the land of promise.

Kingship

The third crucial event occurs within the promised land.

It is recorded for us in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel.

In 1 Samuel 8 we are told that the Israelites appear to have become tired of God being their king.

They ask God to appoint a human king over them.

And again God acts with compassion and judgment.

He gives them their king and incorporates kingship into his covenant relationship with them.

But he tells them that their kings will inevitably use and abuse them.

They will act with their own interests in mind rather than that of their subjects.

And as the Old Testament story goes on, we find that this does indeed happen.

The kings fail and the books of Kings and Chronicles record their failure.

However, through his prophets, God indicates that he will eventually provide them with a different sort of king - a king who

will truly shepherd the people of God.

A king who will constantly have their best interests in mind.

Who will rule like God - with justice, righteousness, and mercy.

Exile

It is clear, isn't it, that the story of the Bible is one of failure?

Adam failed.

Israel failed.

The kings failed.

And God acted in judgment but he also acted in mercy.

He forgave and forgave and forgave.

And he warned and warned and warned that continued rebellion would mean devastating judgment.

And rebellion did continue.

And so God sent a foreign nation into the land of promise.

This foreign nation of Babylon defeated God's people.

It decimated the city of Jerusalem and the temple.

It carted the people of God off into exile in Babylon.

It was a very dark period in Israel's history.

But again God promised that mercy would triumph over judgment.

And one of the places where he does this most spectacularly is in Isaiah 40.

Let's turn to Isaiah 40 and see what God has to say to his people:

1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been

completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice of one

calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be

raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the

LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 40:1-5, NIV)

Having set a biblical and theological context for Mark 1, we were ready to look at the text itself. My hope was that by doing this I could give the congregation a small feel for the impact of what was going on in the events laid out within the first 15 verses. However, before doing this, I made sure that the main point had not been lost.

What these events show

The point that I want to make is that these events show a pattern.

On the side of God's people, the pattern is sin and failure.

On God's side, the pattern is judgment tempered with extraordinary mercy and love.

This is the situation at the end of the Old Testament...

Humans are intractably independent, sinful, and rebellious.

God must judge such rebellion, for he is righteous and just.

But at the same time, his nature is to have mercy.

And so it is that we wait to see what will happen.

And this is where the Gospel of Mark comes to our rescue.

For Mark tells us of new beginnings.

Let's turn and see what he has to say.

New Beginnings (Mark 1:1-15)

A new Elijah

As we approach Mark 1, I need to forewarn you that I am not going to look at the fine detail of the passage.

I simply want to point out some of the important things and how they relate to the crucial Israelite events we have already

talked about.

And the way I intend to do this, is to look at the central characters in these 15 verses.

And as I do, I want to talk about their importance in relation to the Old Testament.

First, let me tell you about Elijah.

Elijah is one of the earliest recorded Old Testament prophets.

He exercised his ministry during the reign of Ahab, one of the most notorious kings of Israel.

He was a prophet revered and honoured in Israel.

In fact, the very last words of the Old Testament are about him.

Listen to them in Malachi 4:

"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the fathers

to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse." (Malachi 4:5-6,

NIV)

Mark 1:2-3 combines this prophecy about Elijah with the one we read earlier from Isaiah 40.

His point is that John the Baptist is God's new Elijah.

And as God's new Elijah, his task is straightforward:

  • To prepare the way for the Lord;
  • To prepare for God's great time of salvation; and
  • To herald in God's great time of comfort.

And so, in Mark 1:4ff we see him pursuing his task.

He looks the part of the prophet - he is clothed with the garb of the prophet.

And he says the words of a prophet.

Like the prophets of old he proclaims judgment and demands repentance.

And as he does so, he announces that he is here to introduce one greater than himself.And this coming one is greater and

more powerful than his messenger - he will baptise with the Holy Spirit rather than with water.

A new David

And then we reach verse 9ff.

We are told that Jesus came from Nazareth and was baptised by John in the Jordan.

And as he is baptised, the heavens are torn open.

The Spirit descends on him like a dove.

And a voice comes from heaven:

"You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

The words are crucial words.

They come from two important places in the Old Testament - 2 Samuel 7 and Psalm 2.

Both these Old Testament passages talk about God's anointed king, his Messiah.

Each of them says that the Messiah is God's son (2 Samuel 7:14; Psa lm 2:7).

These words from heaven are a striking acclamation.

They are an affirmation that God has fulfilled another Old Testament promise.

He has sent a new David.

A Messiah.

A King who will rule over God's people and God's world with justice, righteousness, and truth.

A new Adam/creation

Verse 12 tells us that immediately the Spirit sent Jesus out into the wilderness.

Verse 1 has already reminded us of Genesis 1 and God's creation when it used the words ‘In the beginning...'

Talk about the Spirit and hovering doves in verse 10 has reminded us of the Spirit hovering over the waters in Genesis 1:2.

Genesis 1 is where God created humans.

And Genesis 2 is where Adam lived among animals, was tempted, and failed.

There Satan set Adam in his sights and succeeded.

Well, here is a new Adam.

But he is a far different proposition than the first Adam.

For when he is driven out into the wilderness...

When he is with the wild animals...

When Satan comes to tempt him...

There is no failure.

He survives and returns.

And after Jesus is put in prison, he goes into Galilee and announces God's time and the imminence of God's kingdom

rather than banishment form God's presence.

Where Adam had chosen to be his own king, Jesus proclaims, practices and epitomises the kingship of God.

A new Exodus

But the allusions to the Old Testament don't stop here.

Look at the references to the desert or wilderness in verses 3, 4, 12, and 13.

Look at verse 3 in particular.

It quotes Isaiah 40 and talks of a way in the wilderness, a way of the Lord.

And verse 13 has Jesus going out to the wilderness.

If Adam's place of failure had been in the garden with animals, Israel's place of failure had been the wilderness.

But the wilderness is not a place of failure for Jesus.

It will be the place from which God will fulfil the promise of Isaiah 40.

There will be a new exodus, a new way out, a new deliverance, and a new return.

A new return

This association of Jesus with the promises of Isaiah finds further support in the second half of the words of God in verse 11.

There God talks about Jesus as one with whom he is well pleased.

The language is the language that is used of the servant of the Lord in Isaiah 42:1.

The servant of Isaiah is one who will act as a prophet, speaking God's word (Isaiah 50:4-9).

He will be a good king, who will deal 65with the problem of sin by taking the sin of all upon himself (Isaiah 49:1-6; 52:13-53:12).

And by this means he will bring about a return from the spiritual slavery that all humans suffer because of sin.

A new age

And finally there is the new age.

The story of the Old Testament is the story of a longing for a return to Eden.

For a new Davidic king who will rule in the way God wanted David and his sons to rule.

A situation where God's good purposes are brought to a climax.

With this in mind, turn to verse 14.

Jesus comes into Galilee.

He proclaims the great news of God:

"The time has come, the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"" (Mark 1:15, NIV)

Jesus is saying that God's time has come.

With him and his news, the new age is bursting in upon the world.

With him and his news, God is reigning as king.

And if this is so, then the only appropriate action is to turn from sin - to repent - so that you are ready to face the king.

Now before seeking to apply this passage in a more personal manner to those listening, I attempted to summarise the impact of what we had seen so far.

The cumulative force of Mark 1:1-15

The cumulative force of Mark 1:1-15 is overwhelming, isn't it?

With a text replete with Old Testament quotations and allusions, Mark has painted a magnificent picture of what God is

about in the ministry of Jesus.

He is telling us that the great climactic event in God's purposes is about to take place.

In fact, it has already started.

For Jesus is the fulfilment of all the promises and purposes of God.

He is the ‘yes' and the ‘amen' to those promises (2 Corinthians 1:20).

And he has arrived and is beginning to speak and act.

The time is fulfilled.

The kingdom of God is at hand.

Repent and believe the gospel.

In this final section of the talk, I tried to apply the message. As indicated above, I think that the thrust of application should seek to reflect the thrust of the passage itself - the fulfilment of God's great purposes in Christ and our reaction to them. In doing this, I also sought to help the congregation reflect on these verses from a slightly different angle than they might have been used to. This talk is much heavier than most in terms of content and telling a story alleviates this while also bringing in some Old Testament perspective on the use of the term ‘gospel' and its associated verbs.

Good news or not?

Before we finish tonight, there is one more thing we need to look at.

There is one word that appears in both the first verse and the last verse of our passage.

Most modern versions of the Bible translate it using the term ‘gospel'.

Some versions translate it as ‘good news'.

Well, this word had a Greek background and an Old Testament background.

In the Greek speaking world, a ‘gospel' was some sort of official announcement.

So, when an heir to the throne was born, the word you used for the announcement of that birth was this word.

When you proclaimed his coming of age, you used this word.

When he ascended his throne, the proclamation could be referred to using this term.

But the word was also used in the Greek version of the Old Testament.

And it was generally used in place of a Hebrew word that meant ‘good news' or ‘the reward for good news' or ‘the

announcement of good news'.

One famous passage in which it is used in Isaiah 53:7 where we read:

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who

proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"" (Isaiah 52:7, NIV)

In the Greek Old Testament, the word behind the phrases ‘who bring good news' and ‘who bring good tidings' comes from

the same group of words that lies behind the word ‘gospel'.

My own view is that the Old Testament usage of the word colours the way Jesus uses the word and the way Mark uses the word.In the Old Testament these words are often linked with the proclamation of the great news of God breaking into the world

and asserting his kingly rule.

It is associated with salvation, with vengeance upon the enemies of God, and with vindication of the people of God.

It is the announcement of the advent of God's kingly rule.

Now, having said this, I want to close by going to a part of the Bible where this term is used.

I'm doing this because I think it helps us understand some of the implications that lie behind the use of the word ‘gospel'

or ‘good news' on the lips of Jesus.

The story comes from 2 Samuel 18.

It is during the reign of King David.

In the preceding few chapters we have been told of David's son Absalom.

He is a handsome and very able son and David loves him very much.

But Absalom committed treason and attempted to steal his father's throne by subterfuge.

A battle has been fought between David's troops and Absalom's troops.

And David's men have triumphed.

Absalom has been killed.

But David doesn't know any of this as yet.

And Joab, his commander-in-chief, is in the process of arranging for the news to be relayed to him by messenger.

In 2 Samuel 18:19, Ahimaaz, one of David's loyal men is keen to take the news to David.

Joab tries to dissuade him because the news is of his son's death and may not be welcome news.

It is not news that will bring a reward.

But Ahimaaz presses Joab and Joab caves in.

He allows Ahimaaz to run as a second messenger.

David's sentinel sees two runners coming towards them.

Eventually the sentinel recognises Ahimaaz by his running.

He reports to David.

David is encouraged and replies, ‘He is a good man, and comes with good news'.

And so Ahimaaz overtakes the other runner and arrives first.He is brought to the king with his news.

He makes it clear - God has given a great victory to David in battle.

But David is not interested in this news.

He is more interested in the news of his son.

And so he waits for the second runner.

And the second runner conveys the news of Absalom's death.

David is grief stricken.

The good news for Israel is bad news for him. He has lost a favourite son.

And this brings us to the point I want to make about the term ‘gospel'. You see, this passage is full of the Old Testament group of words that lie behind the word for ‘gospel'. The news that the messengers bring is said to be ‘good news'. But while the news seems good to Joab and good to Israel, it is not good news to David. Can you see what I'm saying? The news such as that brought by the messengers of Joab can have a good effect or a bad effect. In other words, such news can in fact be good news or bad news. And so it is with the gospel of Jesus Christ that is spoken about in Mark 1. The gospel is great news about Jesus Christ. It is great news about the time of God's kingship. And such news can be the best news you will ever hear. It will be this if you receive God's kingship with joy, with faith, and with obedience. However, this great news about God's kingship can also be met with unbelief and turning away. In this case, it will be the very worst news you will ever hear. For God's kingship can come to you as one who has no intention of receiving God as king. Or it can come to you meaning salvation and forgiveness. It can mean the fulfilment of everything you have ever longed for. It can mean good news. Or it can be bad news. Your own response will make it one or the other. My hope for you is that you will look back into history and see the events that are about to be outlined for us in Mark's Gospel as the most significant events in human history. My hope is that they will not be viewed as distant historical events. My hope is that they will be taken on board personally and become events around which you will order your whole personal life. My hope is that the events of the life and ministry of Jesus will be the best news you ever hear. With this in mind, I hope you will be back next week as we narrow down on verses 14 and 15. We have done the background on these verses. We can see that God is about to announce something of great significance. Please join us next week as we explore this announcement in greater depth

Resources/recommended reading

In terms of resources on Mark, the standard commentaries are all helpful from a variety of angles. Some of the key ones to read are...

France, R. T. The Gospel of Mark (New York: Doubleday, 1998)

Hurtado, L. Mark (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1989)

van Iersel, B. Reading Mark (Edinburgh, T. & T. Clark, 1989), translated by W. H. Bisscheroux from the 1986 Dutch version.

Witherington, Ben The Gospel of Mark: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2001)

Guelich, R. A. Mark 1:1-8:26 (Word Books, 1989)

The one I found most helpful was that by van Iersel. This was because of the succinct way that he pointed toward some of the Old Testament allusions.

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