The Gospel According to Mark
Chapter 1: 1-13
Lenten Bible Study
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ [the Son of God].
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“Behold, I a sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
‘Prepare the way of the LORD,
straight his paths.’”
John [the] Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the holy Spirit.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “you are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.
Verse 5: people came from the countryside and the city of Jerusalem. I cannot begin to understand how many people that was, but I think I can begin to understand the worries the Pharisees had about the popularity of Christ.
Verse 8: Christ alludes later in the Gospel to John the Baptist being Elijah. Is John the Baptist Elijah? More importantly, who is Elijah?
Verse 10: The holy Spirit descends like a dove. Hawks and other birds of prey dive in, whereas doves? According to the WBFI Research Foundation Bird database, the flight of a dove is “swift, strong direct flight.” Secondly, the heavens are torn open. They are not gently pulled aside, but torn open. What does that look like? Sound like? What glory the Baptist and all others gathered that day when Christ was baptized in the Jordan River must have seen and experienced!
Verse 12: Why forty days? Is this symbolically linked to Noah’s 40 days adrift? Noah is a story about God’s disgust for mankind, His retaliatory actions, and His covenant. It is a rebirth. Do these 40 days in the desert endured by Christ resemble rebirth. We know through the redemptive and glorious Crucifixion that it does indeed precede a rebirth. How does Satan tempt the Son of God? What is the importance of mentioning that Christ is among wild beasts in the desert? In Exodus, the desert is a place of feeling lost, abandoned, and rebellion against the LORD; does Christ’s retreat into the desert symbolize … obedience, perhaps? He was pushed into the desert by the holy Spirit; did the Father know something about Satan’s temptations and Christ’s need to resist them that we mortals are not aware of?