A Ministry of Preparation and Proclamation | Mark 1:1-18
By O'neill Trull
1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way,3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’”4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 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. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
John the Baptist has always been a fascinating character to me, seemingly a wild man, living outside society eating locusts and honey! Yet Jesus said of him in Matthew 11, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist”. Pretty high praise for an individual. I want to focus on two aspects of his ministry, and then, why I believe Jesus called him great.
The first aspect we see, in verse 2, is a ministry of preparation. John’s calling was one of preparing people to encounter the Messiah. Much like a farmer will prepare the soil to receive the seed, John was called to prepare the hearts of those that Jesus Himself would preach to later. Everyday we have the opportunity to prepare our own hearts, and the hearts of those we encounter to receive what Jesus has for us. To receive hope, correction, peace, courage, honor, and freedom.
In verse 4 we read about his ministry of proclamation. A call for repentance and baptism, a shift in both thought and action. We can create a false dichotomy that the Gospel is about deeds, or about words. The life of John, and more importantly Jesus, would tell us it’s both. The Gospel, is about the whole person, about a new life, a new beginning, a new way of doing things. Our call like John is to both show and proclaim the goodness of Jesus.
"Our call like John is to both
show and proclaim the goodness of Jesus."
Finally, in verse, I believe we see the key to his greatness, that is his humility. He realized that he was merely a forerunner of the One to come, not the headliner, but rather the opening act. It is said that John was the final prophet under the Old Covenant, but I believe we can also say he was the prototype disciple: one who prepared people to encounter Jesus, proclaimed His Goodness, while walking in great humility. Our call is to do the same.