Day One with Mark: Mark 1:1-8

As we start our journey through Mark together, today we are going to look at Chapter 1:1-8:  In the NRSV this section is entitled The Proclamation of John the Baptist

1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way;
3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

stjohnA few things that jump out to me in this passage.  First, in verse 1, the “good news.” That’s what the word Gospel means.  It is good news.  Jesus is Good News.  The grace of God is good news. When we tell folks about God, we are telling them about good news!  God loves you!  Do we communicate that “good news” like it is actual good news?

In verses 2-3, we see a quotation from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah.  Mark’s Gospel doesn’t have as many Old Testament quotations as Matthew does, but he does quote from the Old Testament a good bit.  Why? Well, a couple of reasons.  First, this shows the Jewish believers that this “new” Christian faith is really the same faith that their ancestors were pointing to.  It is actually what Abraham and Moses and others were hoping and longing for.

And second, it shows us non-Jewish (i.e. Gentile) believers that God was at work for a long time.  We aren’t the first believers in God ever.  God was working all of history towards the coming of Jesus Christ.  And we as Christians, we should not forsake the Old Testament. We should treasure it and read it as well.  It is our story as well. We believe that all the Bible is inspired.  The Old Testament matters to us as well!

In verses 4-8, we see the entrance of John the Baptist.  Can’t you just picture him with this description. And you know what?  He looks different, doesn’t he?  Mark makes it clear to us that he is not like the other religious leaders.  Not in his dress, not in his actions (baptism of repentance) and not in his message – the savior is coming.

John was different. But what was his purpose?  To prepare the way for Jesus.  To get folks ready for Jesus.  To make sure that people knew Jesus and were ready to follow him.

In fact, you and I have the same purpose.  To make Jesus known.  So, we too have a different message and a different purpose.  Just like John, we are called to be different. And we are called to point folks to Jesus.

Today, we share that same mission as John.  To point folks to Jesus.

What questions do you have?  How does this strike you?  Shoot me an email, comment below, or connect with me through social media.

Tomorrow we’ll look at Mark 1:9-15.

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!

The Secret

saint-john-the-baptist-09John the Baptist is one of the coolest characters in all the Bible to me.  One of the reasons why is because when you read his story, he has such courage.  Man oh man, he’s not afraid of anything.  He says what he needs to say, sometimes in a VERY bold way, and he does what he needs to do.

He said what he said, wore what he wore, did what he did with great courage.

You ever wonder what his secret was?

What was it that he had that gave him such courage?  Well, when we read his story, this is what we see.  We see that he knew that he had one job in life, and that was to point to Jesus. Everything he did was for that purpose.  He did in everywhere and in every way.

He pointed to Jesus.  And was the source of his courage.  He knew that if he did what he was supposed to do, that was his purpose.  And all would flow from that.  Listen to what happens today in John 3: 27-30:

27 John answered, “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. 28 You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Here’s John, who is a big deal, has people coming from everywhere to hear him preach.  Folks are talking to him, saying are you the messiah?  Are you the one that is to come?

And John says – no!  I am not the one.  I am a friend of the one.  I point to the one.  But I am not the one.  And then he says that great statement in verse 30 – He must increase, but I am must decrease.

Wow.  That’s a tough thing to say, isn’t it.  Jesus must decrease.  We’re good with that one. That one’s cool.

But I must decrease.  I’m not so sure about that one.  I’m not sure that I want to decrease.  That’s tough.

But John knew that he had to.  He knew his life was not his own, but it was Jesus’.  And the only way that he would be able to find true life was to decrease.  Because living for himself would never lead to life.  Living for Jesus would lead to true life.  Now, and for all eternity.

He had to decrease.  Jesus had to increase.  That’s the secret.  That was where his courage, his purpose, his life came from.  He knew that if increased and Jesus decreased, he’d never find life. But, if he did all that he could do to point to Jesus and point others to Jesus, he’d fine life. And that life leads to courage.

Today, how about us?  We were made for that very purpose.  To point others to Jesus.

Today, may we live out our purpose. And if we do that, we will find the courage that we desperately need.  Today, may He increase and we decrease.

If you’d like to receive these thoughts by email, be sure to click here and join my email devotional group!

What is Your Purpose?

We are in a season of the year that is called Advent.  Yesterday, Sunday, December 1, was the first Sunday in this season. This season is a time when we stop, and get our hearts ready for the Lord’s Coming.

His first coming as a gentle babe, born in the humble town of Bethlehem.

And His second coming, when He shall come as the victory King and Lord that He is.

His first coming was easy to miss, unless you were paying attention.  It wasn’t until the Wise Men came, that the priests and teachers of the Law in Jerusalem even knew that the Lord had been born.  His first coming was easy to miss.  His second, it will be unmistakable.

In our reading for today, we read from Mark 1: 6-8, where we see the that got things ready for Jesus’ coming.

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

stjohnJohn came to get things ready for the coming of Christ. And look at the one thing that he knew to be true and that he lived by.  It wasn’t about him.  It wasn’t.  It was about Jesus.

He knew that He was here to get things ready for Jesus’ coming.  That was His purpose.  That was what it was about. And that’s what He lived to do.  He lived with that great purpose.

Today, as we consider John the Baptist, we ask this question.  What is our purpose today?  What are we living for?  Who we are living for?  What is the purpose of our lives?

Do we have one?

Today, unless Jesus is our purpose, we don’t truly have a purpose worth having. Today, may He be our purpose, our life, our everything.  Today, if we are living for Him, we are living for our greatest purpose.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.


John the Baptist knew who Jesus was. Scripture tells the story that even while he was in his mother’s womb, he leapt for joy when Mary came to visit, for even then he knew that the Messiah was there.

John was the one appointed by God to go and to prepare the way for Jesus. He was the one that was supposed to make things ready for Jesus’ coming and ministry.

Some of his disciples even became disciples of Jesus.

John baptized Jesus in the Jordan River.

John knew Jesus.

So, it’s a little surprising to read what happens in today’s text, Matthew 11:2-5:

Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.

And yet today, in this text, he doubted. Life had taken a turn. John was now in prison for standing up to Herod and condemning him. And you condemn the king, it normally doesn’t go to good for you. So, he is doubting.

And what do Jesus say – look. Look at the lives I’ve changed. Look what I’ve done. Look what’s happening. I am who I say that I am because I have changed live.

You will doubt. It will happen. That’s ok. Doubt happens. Even John did. But when doubt comes, just like John, look around. Look at the lives that are changed. Look at the difference Jesus makes, in your lives and in the lives of others.

He has changed my life. He has changed the lives of so many others. And, if you let Him, He will change your life in amazing ways today!

Doubt will come. But remember. Remember what He has done for you. Remember how He has shown you grace. Remember how He has changed your life. That change. That experience. That’s God’s working in our lives.

When doubt comes, remember what He’s done. And look at what He’s doing. And hold tight to those things.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Because of the Tender Mercy of our God

In the passage today that we are reflecting upon, we see Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, praise God for what God is going to do through his son. We know from the story of John the Baptist, that he was a man that, shall we say, lived outside the norm.

John lived away from it all, and he lived a life with a singular purpose – to point the way and prepare the people for the coming of Christ. He was the baptizer, out by the river, calling folks to righteousness, calling them to repent, calling them to follow the path of God.

And calling them to get ready for the one that would save the people from their sin. Calling them to salvation.

Why? Why did John do this? Why did God call him to this, and why did God give Zechariah and Elizabeth at their advanced age this child that would grow into this man? Listen to what Luke says in Luke 1:74-79:

that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

We see – because of His tender mercy. Because of His mercy, God gives light. Because of His mercy, God gives hope. Because of his tender mercy, God gives the freedom to serve.

Look at what it also says in verse 74 – we might serve Him without fear.

God desires today that you serve Him, but not out of fear. Out of love. Out of grace. Out of His tender mercy. He loves you. He gives His son for you. He gives us each folks pointing the way to Him.

And He wants us to respond. To serve. To love. To care. To obey. Because of the tender mercy of our God we have been given grace and salvation.

And He wants us to serve Him without fear. Today, and each day, may we do that!