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Mark’s first-century biography – page 1

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God

In other words, the title Mark gave to his book was: Jesus Christ, Son of God, the beginning of good news. 

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare 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. 

Books written by the prophets Malachi and Isaiah were being read throughout that time in synagogues in Israel. Malachi had written (c. BC 450): “You have wearied the LORD with your words. But you say, `How have we wearied him?` By saying, `Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.’ Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?’ 
 
It seems that people in Malachi’s day and place were similar to us. They wanted to be convinced that despite the evil they were doing or planning, they themselves were good in God’s sight. `Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delights in them.’ What evil thing am I doing and then saying “God says I’m good”?

If that argument wasn’t enough BC 450, there was another, “Where is the God of justice?” This just God you believe in - where is he when he’s allowing so much injustice by others? Therefore, a little injustice by me won’t have any consequences. 

 
But Malachi’s message from the LORD God was: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.” Mark wanted readers of his biography to connect with Malachi whose words were common knowledge in Jesus’ day. Malachi added, “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears?" He ended his document with: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” 

Malachi’s BC 450 message from the LORD God was: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me.”  
Isaiah wrote much earlier than Malachi - around BC 740 – on the same subject. Scrolls of his book were also in the synagogues in Jesus’ day. His exact words were: “A voice cries in the wilderness: prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”

 
So, in Jesus’ day, the Scriptures of Israel had foretold that it was the LORD God who would come to his people. And that a forerunner, someone like Elijah (alive BC 850), would go ahead of the LORD God to prepare his way. 

Page 1 of Mark’s biography links this forerunner with John the Baptist: John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 

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. 

Isaiah’s exact BC 740 words were: “A voice cries in the wilderness: prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Note the “all the country” and the “all Jerusalem”. John the Baptist was hugely successful in the first century AD.  How very counter cultural his message must have been. Who would, of themselves, decide to go out to a strange man in the wilderness so as to confess his or her sins and to be immersed in a river to show sorrow for sins and a 180-degree change of mind? 

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 

In the Scriptures available widely in Jesus’ day, Elijah was described by King Ahaziah of Israel (alive BC 850): Ahaziah said to them, “What kind of man was he who came to meet you and told you these things?” They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

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. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 

What on earth? What, on earth?

 
Sinner Syvret

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