Mark 1: The Beginning of the Gospel

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

Reading: Mark 1

1 The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God....
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:1, 14-15)

Thinking and Reflecting
Mark leaves no doubt as he begins to write: "The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ the Son of God." Mark begins as do the other Synoptic Gospels (Matthew and Luke) with a series of what I call "identity stories"-quotations from Old Testament prophecies fulfilled, Jesus' baptism, and his temptation. Matthew and Luke include genealogies and birth narratives as part of these identity stories. But Mark 1 moves directly into a series of amazement stories-an evil spirit driven out, healings, demons silenced, a leper healed, and synagogue preaching. The text notes again and again the amazement of the people.
In the midst of this rapid-fire beginning is the easily overlooked affirmation: "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Life-changing; designed to catch our attention, challenging! Should we also notice that the order is unusual: repent and believe.

In what way does repentance precede belief in this passage? Can a person have faith without changing the thinking about how the coming of Christ brings the kingdom near? Does this admonition of Jesus have application today, or would he now say, "Believe and repent"? How do the stories in the rest of the chapter illustrate the process of "repent and believe"?

Father God, we want to become people of great faith, believing the good news to such an extent that our lives are forever changed. Help us see Jesus afresh in this reading and study of Mark's gospel, in Jesus' name I ask it. Amen.

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Last updated August 16, 2011