The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” – Mark 1:1-3
Mark announces in his first line that he is writing “the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
It is an abrupt way to start the gospel. Unlike Matthew and Luke who begin their accounts with infancy stories to help us position Jesus in society through genealogies and romantic, even scandalous tales, Mark is silent on Jesus’ birth, childhood, youth, and early adulthood. Unlike John who begins his account with a theological prologue to proclaim Christ Jesus as an essential part of the mighty movement of God from before all eternity – the very creative word of God which “became flesh and dwelt among us,” Mark offers no theological insight to explain the identity of Jesus.
Mark simply tells us that the beginning of the good news is in the wilderness.
Perhaps this message holds no surprise. Maybe we can understand that God’s good news is found far from the glamour of adoring crowds and far from the pools of political power. God’s offer of salvation may be extended in such places just as surely as anywhere else, but it may be that God’s offer is not viewed as particularly good news in such glitzy venues. Perhaps it may be seen as irrelevant or even as threatening by those who seem to have it all. But in the wilderness – in the lonely places, the difficult places, the sad places, the troubling places, the powerless places, in places of heart-break and struggle and desperation, God’s grace and truth find receptive souls whose experience of God’s love and concern is received as very good news.
Of course, it doesn’t take us long to learn that life is filled with ups and downs. While we may experience a variety of mountaintop highs, our journeys also include sojourns into deep valleys as we encounter difficulty and disease, disappointment and defeat, despair and death. If you find yourself in just such a difficult place, find comfort in the good news that God has neither forgotten nor forsaken you. Even while facing hurt and heartbreak, you are never out of God’s care and keeping. Nowhere can you experience the good news of God’s blessing more fully than in a lonely, wilderness place. In fact, Mark tells us that that is exactly where God’s good news begins.
Good Father, thank you for meeting me in my loneliest places with the good news of your love and care. Help me trust you at all times and in all places. Amen.
A Bible study devotional blog by Gorman Houston