Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
I have a friend who enjoys bringing up topics for discussion or debate. One of the problems he has is staying on point. Without fully addressing a point of emphasis, he quickly transitions to another point. He transformed the original discussion into chaos, going nowhere. So, I do my best to keep the discussion on the topic at hand, and not moving to other areas until fully exhausting the previous point.
This is what Satan has done with the Gospel. He does not want us to fully explore the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So, he transitions the Gospel message into other areas, moving the Gospel into chaos. The problem is everything that we believe in must link back to the cross. Without a clear understanding of the Gospel, nothing else makes sense or matters. Therefore, it is up to us to keep the discussion on the Gospel according to Jesus Christ.
Mark laid down the foundation of the Gospel according to Jesus Christ in the first eight verse of his gospel. This foundation is vastly different than the Gospel that is being preached in many churches today. For us, the importance is not producing a message that is “based upon our enlightenment of culture” but God’s word.
First, the Gospel message is a rejoicing message. In the Roman world of Mark’s day, the Romans often used this word “gospel” as an announcement that the transcendent, great, era changing Caesar was soon arriving in their town. This announcement would produce joy and rejoicing by the inhabitants of the town because this larger than life Caesar is visiting their town. Mark used the word “gospel” to let his, primarily Roman audience know that a larger than life, transcendent, and era changing King has arrived and His name is Jesus. Jesus Christ, not Caesar is the only person who can give people real, meaningful, impactful and eternal hope and life. This announcement should produce joy and rejoicing in our hearts. God has condescended in the person of Jesus Christ to visit us where we are so that we can live eternally with Him, where He is.
Second, the Gospel message is a rejoicing message for those who repent. Many of Mark’s audience would have been offended with verse one. After all, Caesar was their hope and all in all; yet, Mark defiantly, declares Jesus to be a person’s hope and all in all. This is not any different in our society. People have no issues with declaring Jesus to be a part of the process that brings joy and hope; however, once He is declared to be the only way, truth and life (John 14:6) for hope and peace with God, people become offended. We think to highly of ourselves; therefore, we must have a positive contribution to the process. But if Jesus is the only way, truth and life then this means we are not the way, we do not possess the truth and our life is death. We cannot offer God anything that is pleasing in His sight, other than repentance. We cannot receive the Gospel message with joy, without repentance. Mark said that John the Baptist preached how we should prepare the way of the Lord and repentance, which produced confession of sin (Mark 1:3-5). Repentance has lost its significance in today’s Gospel preaching. We want people to believe Jesus and confess their sinfulness in a routine way that does not produce change. Repentance produces the change that brings with it a saving faith and confession of sin. Jesus said, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
The third component to the foundation of the Gospel message is reflection. John had become a powerful preacher, and his followers were growing and passionate. Instead of living in the limelight of his popularity, John the Baptist reflected Jesus Christ. He said, “There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose (Mark 1:7). The last thing John the Baptist wanted was to take people’s eyes off the prize, which is the Lord Jesus Christ. Satan has muddied the message of the Gospel by incorporating wealth, health, social issues, etc.…to the Gospel message. In doing this, he removed the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. Please God, help us to put the light back on Jesus and Him alone.