Dave Williams speaking on Mark 1:1-3. Dave spoke about the scripture Mark is quoting from the prophets Malachi and Isaiah, reminding us of Jesus’ mission to save and sanctify us. Mark is ultimately pointing us to the Gospel, the great equalizer, encouraging us to confess our sins to the Lord because he came to forgive and purify us.
- The Gospel is good news. It is the story of deliverance from bondage of things of this world.
- Jesus is our salvation. It is in his name. His name means God saves. He alone is able to save us from Sin.
- Christ is a title. It means the anointed one. He was set a part for the task of saving our lives. He is our prophet, who guides, priest, who atones for our sin, and king, who rules over us.
- Jesus is God’s son. This is God here. Not just a man. He humbled himself to his creation so that we may be saved.
“As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way; The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.’ John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”
Preparing the way
- So Mark is quoting two prophets here: Isaiah and Malachi and in both instances they speak of the Lord coming. But the image that we see here is an ambassador coming before a king would come.
- Let’s look at Malachi 3 first:
“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; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.”
- Now this is a powerful verse. For those of you in Bible316 last year you might remember reading Ezekiel and remember the time when God’s present left the temple.
- The people of Israel had turned from God finally removed his presence from his people. God no longer was accessible so they were left to their own devices.
- Of course the end of the story is that they were soon after taking into captivity and were never a nation again. Their temple was destroyed and now, in it’s place, was a temple that wasn’t governed by God’s spirit but by man’s ambitions.
- And now, the last book in the Old Testament, Malachi prophesies that a messenger is coming that will prepare the way for God to come back to his temple.
- God is coming back. It is a testament of hope that no matter how bad they were he made a promise to them and he returned.
- This is great for us to remember as well. That God loves us even when we makes mistakes. 2 Timothy 2:13 says that “if we are faithless he remains faithful.”
- We have to rest in that. However, we have to look at the second part of this passage.
- “2 But who can endure the day of his coming, who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.”
- God came not to just hang. He came to refine us. He came to cleanse us.
- We have to understand that as much as he will never leave us he will also never leave us in our current condition either.
- He is a refiners fire.
Point #1 Jesus came to save you but he also came to change you.
- He is so patient in his approach but don’t confuse his patience towards sin with acceptance.
- Leviticus 11:44 God states, “Be holy as I am holy.”
- He demands holiness.
- And he came to save but he came to make us holy. He doesn’t want us to stay the way we are.
- This is what Mark is showing us in verse 2 when he quotes Malachi: He is saying that God is sending a messenger to prepare the way for God to come down but that when he comes he is coming to save and to sanctify—to make holy.
- Now lets look at the second section of this passage.
- The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, Make His paths straight.’”
- Now this section of scripture is found in Isaiah 40. What is happening here is that Israel was just dealt some bad news. Hezekiah was king and because of mistakes that he had made they were going to be taking into captivity.
- If you could imagine being at that place where you know that the mistake you made has enormous consequences. It just wont impact you but it will impact others as well.
- This place of hopelessness is where this verse comes from. Let me read it for you:
- Isaiah 40:3-5
3 A voice cries:“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
- What do we see here? We see this image of tall things being brought down and low things being brought up. Uneven ground becoming level. Rough places being made plain.
Point #2 The Gospel is the great equalizer
- The Gospel sets the plaining field. We are all sinners in need of a savior and he is the savior. That is it. Two categories: God and humanity.
- See before the Gospel was introduce people could break themselves into a hierarchy. Male and female. Black and white. Jew & Gentile.
- Yet the Gospel shows us the actual truth.
- Colossians 3:11 states, “11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. “
- Yet how many times do I segregate? How many times do I see myself as better than someone else. More holy than someone else.
- The Gospel teaches against that way of thinking.
- Christ things high things low and low things high. That is good news.
John The Baptist
- So what Mark does with these two verses and concepts is introduce a man who would go before God.
- We just discussed what the actual message was that was shared but look at the way in which he did it.
- First off he is talking about John the Baptist.
- His job was to be that messenger to prepare the way and make the paths straight.
- This image would have been one that Mark’s readers would have comprehended.
- The Jews would have understood what those verse’s he quoted meant but the gentles would have seen something else.
- See prior to Kings and Emperors entering into a city they would send messengers to let people know that the King was coming.
- They would clean the streets, put out the flowers, get dressed up in their finest garb, make sure their kids were smiling and be ready.
- That is what the messenger would do.
- Yet John the Baptist, although he was a messenger, he knew that in order to prepare the way for Christ his message was going to be different.
- It wasn’t get yourself cleaned up. It wasn’t put on your best clothes and cover up your fear, hurt, or pain.
- Instead it was the exact opposite.
- The message was one of repentance. John came letting people know that the King is coming but he isn’t looking for your how good you are he is coming to save you from how bad you are. He isn’t looking for how put together you are, he is coming to heal your brokenness.
- Guys, we have needed God since the day we drew our first breath. This was the message from the messenger.
- I close with this: 1 John 1:8 “ If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- Confess your sin to the Lord he came to forgive you from it. Who came to purify you.