Mark 1:1



The Bible says in Mark 1:1-3, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Mark introduces his writing and says that his book is the “beginning of the gospel.” The gospel is the good news. If you are going to write something to leave for the world, there is nothing better to give than good news. There is plenty of bad news, but there is also good news. There is no better news than the good news of Jesus. This good news is about Jesus Christ and it comes from Jesus Christ. God promised that there would be a savior for mankind. Good news, the promise has been fulfilled! There is a solution to the sin problem: forgiveness from Jesus Christ. There is a solution to the grave that waits for us all: eternal life in Jesus Christ.


Mark said that he was writing about the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but Mark did not write about the end of the gospel. The story of the gospel of Jesus Christ is still going forth. Souls are still being saved. Jesus is still manifesting Himself to the hearts of men and women, boys and girls. Mark introduced Jesus and said just one thing about Him in Mark 1:1. He said, “Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” This is not just another biography. This is the story of the Christ. When Matthew wrote his gospel, he spent the first two chapters introducing Jesus with some of the details of His birth. Luke did something similar giving us other details about the early events before Jesus started his public ministry and before John the Baptist’s ministry. The Apostle John did not give information about the birth of Christ, but John did give fourteen verses to express certain details concerning the incarnation. In contrast to the other three, Mark got immediately to the point. He introduced his gospel with the brief, yet critically important statement, “Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The story of the life of Jesus Christ is not just the story of the life of another man. It’s not just another biography. It’s the story of the Son of God.


The public presentation of the Son of God had always been promised. Promises about the Messiah started in the book of Genesis and continued throughout the Old Testament. God keeps His promises. Mark quoted from the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, when he wrote, “Behold, I send my messenger before my face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” Not only did God send the Christ, but God also sent a forerunner, a messenger, before the coming of the Lord in order to give the people the opportunity to prepare their hearts for His coming. God always does things like that. The judgment is coming, but before the judgment comes, you have a chance to repent and to get right with God. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord       


That’s the emphasis of the second quotation from the Old Testament about the first coming of Jesus, the Son of God. This time the prophet Isaiah is quoted when Mark writes, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” The way to prepare for the coming of the Lord, whether it be His first coming or His second coming is to straighten your life out: to stop doing what you ought not do, and to start doing what you ought to do. There is no serving of God and His Christ unless there is also a turning away from sin.


There is a God and He has a Son, Jesus Christ the righteous. When it was time for His Son to be manifest, God raised up a man to announce the arrival of the Son. That man was John the Baptist. Two things were said about John in Mark 1:3. John was called “the voice.” The truth from God is directly related to words. To certain individuals the words have been given. Once the words have been given, then the individuals are expected to speak. John spoke and therefore he was called the voice. “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so


John was called “the voice of one crying in the wilderness.” John was from the wilderness. He was from the countryside. He was not from the big city. One reason for this was probably to demonstrate once again that God’s choosing is not the same as man’s choosing. Man would have a scholar, a theologian from the holy city of Jerusalem, and from the center of organized religion. But not God: God looks at the heart, not the outward appearance. Any man that can be satisfied with the simple things of country life, without power of position or title, just might be the kind of man that God can use. Such a man is much less likely to compromise his message for the sake of power or popularity. Such a man was John.  


The Bible says about John the Baptist in Mark 1:4, “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” John did two things in the wilderness. He preached and he baptized. The word that is translated “preach” means to proclaim publicly. The message that John preached about was “the baptism of repentance.” This is the order of events: 1. John preached about the baptism of repentance. 2. People heard the message and repented. 3. John baptized with water those who repented. If someone did not repent, they could not be baptized. Repentance and turning to God was the spiritual change that took place in people’s lives. Water baptism followed the repentance. 


Notice the phrase: “the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Some have been confused by this phrase. Don’t be one of them. This phrase could be translated: “the baptism of repentance based upon the remission of sins.” The remission of sins that came with repentance happened first, and then the water baptism happened afterwards. It’s like saying, “Here is your paycheck for the work you did last week.” The work was done first, and then the paycheck came later.  Water baptism does not give the remission of sins. The remission of sins comes first with repentance. If someone has repented, then and only then are they eligible to be baptized by water.


Concerning John the Baptist, the Bible says in Mark 1:5-7, “And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel's hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.” The greatness of John the Baptist can be seen in these verses. He preached an uncompromising message. The central truth from God always will have to do with the necessity that human beings turn from their wicked ways. Sin is sin, and it must be repented of and turned from if we are to be rightly related to a holy God. John the Baptist was not attached to the things of this world. He was perfectly happy being clothed with camel’s hair and eating locusts and wild honey. John also had the proper view of himself compared to the Lord. John was not proud or high-minded. He was not vain or conceited. He did not think himself to be a great person. John understood the character and the essence of the Messiah. John said, “There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.” More preachers would see this kind of effectiveness in their sermons if they learned more to lift up the name of Jesus instead of their own name.


In Mark 1:8 John the Baptist makes clear the true significance of the water baptism that he preached about and that he performed in the river of Jordan. He said, “I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” In other words there are two kinds of baptism. There is a water baptism that man can give, and there is a spiritual baptism that only Jesus Christ can give. The water baptism is physical and comes from man. The water baptism is purely symbolic in nature. Water baptism symbolizes the forgiveness and cleansing that a person received when that person repented. Water baptism did not result in cleansing: repentance is what resulted in cleansing. Water baptism symbolized the cleansing that already took place at the time of repentance. Remember, there are two kinds of baptism. Therefore, whenever you see the word baptism in the Bible, you must ask yourself, “Is this talking about water baptism or is it talking about spiritual baptism?” If you get them mixed up, then you will make some invalid interpretations; and you will likely misunderstand the gospel and what it takes to be saved.


When a person turns from sin and receives salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, at that moment such a person has been baptized spiritually by Jesus Christ. The salvation experience is the baptism of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings a person to Jesus, and that person becomes immersed in the Spirit when he believes on Jesus. Salvation is a spiritual experience, and there is absolutely no religious ritual involved. Jesus said in John 3:6-7, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” This spiritual birth is the spiritual baptism. The Apostle Paul was talking about spiritual baptism when he wrote in Romans 6:3-4, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” This happens to us with spiritual baptism at the time of salvation. Water baptism comes later and simply symbolizes what has already happened spiritually.


Mark 1:9 says, “And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.” Think of this for a moment. The holy Son of God was baptized with the baptism of repentance. Unlike everyone else, Jesus had nothing to repent of. Probably one reason that Jesus was baptized was to show that He identified Himself with sinful man at the beginning of His ministry. Of course, at the end of His ministry He identified Himself with sinful man by taking our sins upon Himself to the cruel Roman cross.


In Mark 1:10-11 the Bible says, “And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” In this scene at the baptism of Christ we see the trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit all mentioned at the same time. The Spirit was shown to descend upon Jesus in order to emphasize the means by which Jesus would be accomplishing His public ministry. More than anything else, Jesus would live as a man filled and led by the Holy Spirit. This in no way reflects upon the divine nature of Jesus. It simply demonstrates the degree to which He emptied Himself when He gave up His throne in glory and came to the earth. Also, Jesus showed that it can be done. A human being can become filled and led by the Holy Spirit and thereby do the will of God. We have no excuse. Jesus did it. We should do likewise.


God wants to give the power of the Spirit to believers. In Luke 11:13 Jesus said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” In your flesh dwells no good thing. You cannot do the work of God unless you are filled and led by the Spirit. That’s why First Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Quench not the Spirit.” You may obey many of the laws of God very well, but if you do not understand “the law of the Spirit,” all of your works will be the works of the flesh and will be in vain. Never forget these two important things regarding what is said about Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit here in Mark chapter one. 1. Jesus and Jesus alone can give the spirit baptism. The water baptism comes from man, but the Spirit baptism can only be received from Jesus. 2. In His earthly ministry Jesus was led and filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We can be also if we ask for Him, and if we are sensitive to His leading.               



Copyright; 2002 by Charles F. (Rick) Creech
All Rights Reserved