Mark 1:1-8 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.”
As we are unable to meet for church at the Good News Chapel because of the COVID-19 crisis, we will be preparing a devotional each week. I will be going through the book of Mark with you. Mark is the shortest Gospel account describing the life of Jesus.
It is at times like this that we need to hear good news. The only hope for all of mankind is the Gospel message. The word “Gospel” means “Good News.” There is much fear and uncertainty because of this current crisis. We have been placed under restrictions and don’t know when they will be lifted. Everyone is looking for “good news” or a “gospel” message. But the only real “Good News” that we can ever know is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The only lasting hope; the only eternal hope, is by knowing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
But before the Good News can be revealed preparation is needed. In crisis everyone wants an immediate solution. Everyone wants immediate relief. But without knowing what is the real problem temporary relief will only lead to another crisis. There is a much greater crisis than the COVID-19 outbreak. The major crisis in Israel at the time of the Gospel of Jesus Christ being revealed was the occupation by the Romans. The Israelites were a defeated people and wanted to be a free nation. But the message that John the Baptist preached in the wilderness was a message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He did not speak to what was perceived as the crisis of the day but the real crisis that is behind all crises: sin against God.
It is mankind’s disobedience to God which leads to all crises. It began in the garden of Eden and it continues to this day as we live in a cursed and dying world. The crisis of the moment will not compare to the eternal crisis of which we all by nature are the cause of- a final judgment of eternal separation from God. Many are struggling in this crisis with being separated from their friends and family and other people in general. But have you considered your separation from God because of sin? Has the way of salvation yet been prepared in your heart? Or are you just looking for good news that is temporary and the real crisis is beyond your sight?
For those whose hearts were prepared by the message of John the Baptist, they saw their need for forgiveness from God and they confessed their sins to God. They came and were baptized in water symbolizing their being washed clean from their sins. In this pandemic cleanliness is of the utmost importance. The COVID-19 virus can so easily spread from a contaminated person without anyone even being aware that it has happened. But with washing the risk of being contaminated is lessened. The problem of sin is much more pervading and serious than any virus and water and soap cannot cleanse us. Only God can cleanse us from our sins. The power is within Him.
The message that John the Baptist preached opened the eyes of the people to see the real crisis in their day and this same message is the real crisis in our day. But John the Baptist knew that the Good News could not be fully revealed by himself but only by the Son of God who was to come after him. One was coming who was mightier than him. Although John the Baptist was the greatest of all the Old Testament prophets he was nothing compared to the One in whom the Gospel would be revealed: it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is His Gospel. The Son of God came to reveal His infinite power in forgiving you of your sins! Do you know Jesus Christ? Do you know the One who can baptize you with the Holy Spirit? Is the Name of Jesus Christ the One to whom you are calling to and resting in during this crisis? It is He, and He alone, who can give you the Good News that you need to hear.
Pastor Murray Hack