The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;…
Very simple and natural. There is hardly any preface. The narrator seems impatient to get into the very heart of his subject. This should ever be the instinct of the preacher. Ingenuously, yet with perfect inductive force, he shows that Christianity claims respect and acceptance as being connected with the highest aspirations and purest sentiments of morality.
I. THE SUBJECT STATED. "The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." This title, if title it ought to be called, is very full and felicitous. It is Jesus who is the great subject of the "gospel." The latter is used here in a transitional sense, i.e. not simply of "good news," or "glad tidings," but rather of" account," "history," of the great facts of salvation.
1. The gospel concerns a great Personality. His name, which was to be "as ointment poured forth," is twofold. Jesus is his ordinary human name; his official dignity is indicated by the term "Christ" or "the Christ," i.e. the Anointed. As Messiah, he occupied relations more than human, and therefore the addendum (supported by preponderating manuscript authority), "the Son of God." The Hope of Israel was, if prophetic language is subject to reasonable canons of interpretation, more than a saint or a seer; he was partaker of the Divine nature as truly as of the human, and thus fitted to mediate between the Father and his alienated children.
2. The existence and gradual manifestation of this Person are of great and gladsome consequence to the world. It is worth while to know what he was, did, and suffered, as thereby may be discovered the meaning and the method of salvation. For this reason the account of them is preserved and commended to men.
II. UNDER WHAT ASPECT IT IS REGARDED. As something coming into existence, beginning to be, in time. We are invited, so to speak, to consider how it grew. The greatest religions have not been sudden inventions. Christianity is no exception to the rule. The interest of the mind is excited by the prospect of tracing the genesis of so great and so remarkable a phenomenon, as one might seek to follow a river to its source, or speculate as to the origin of a world. One knows, must know, more about the nature of a thing when it is thus studied. But it would be easy to lose one's self in curious conjecture, in myth and legend of the prehistoric past, without any extension of actual knowledge. In the various ways in which the evangelists account for or trace out the origin of the gospel, there is always a use more or less apparent. In practical subjects speculative researches usually turn out to be aberrations. But Mark, who is the most realistic in his tendency of any of the New Testament writers, save perhaps James, contents himself with indicating proximate origins, but in such a way as to suggest in the strongest possible way the supernatural as the only possible explanation or key.
1. It was foretold. The coming of this Person was the chief burden of prophecy. He was the Hope of the ages. The many statements of the prophets are, however, passed over by Mark in favor of two, one being introductory (ver. 2) and the other of chief importance (ver. 3). It is said, "in Isaiah the prophet," because the attention of the writer went through and beyond the first quotation, which is from Malachi, and riveted itself upon the second, from Isaiah. That such words should have been spoken so long ago was a proof of the Divine character of Christ's mission.
2. Moral preparation was needed for it. John the Baptist's work was a preparatory one, upon the heart and conscience. As a whole it is termed, from its chief rite, "the baptism" of John; and its end was repentance.
3. The personal preparation of its great subject was also essential. His fulfilling of the Law in John's baptism, and his inward spiritual endowment and illumination, ensuring moral victory, spiritual maturity, and the fullness of the Messianic consciousness, are therefore described. All these are a very small portion of the whole gospel as given by Mark; he passes with light, firm touch over each, and then launches his readers upon the great river of Christ's doings and sayings, issuing inevitably, as he ever hints and suggests, in the tragedy of Golgotha. The fullness and intensity of the narrative sensibly increase as the great catastrophe is approached, and the end throws its light back upon the faintest and most obscure "beginning." - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;