The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;…
The first sentence of this gospel is the title to the whole of it — "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." Here again is a characteristic form of expression. This evangelist uses the word "began" over and over again, a score of times at least. Jesus "began to teach" (Mark 4:1); the multitude "began to implore Him to depart" (Mark 5:17); the leper "began to publish" the miracle (Mark 1:45); Christ "began to send out" the twelve (Mark 6:7); the soldiers "began to mock Him" (Mark 15:18); revilers "began to spit on Him" (Mark 14:65). The tale is just full of "beginnings" all through to the end.
I. It began first in the PURPOSE of the Almighty Father. See how Mark brings this out by his double quotation from the old and long-dead prophets. There was certainly a plan of redemption before a man was redeemed — "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world." We cannot help thinking Mark knew in the outset what wonderful matters he had to record. For here, all driven up compactly together, is found the finest group of first things in the New Testament: the first sermon on repentance, the first baptism of a convert, the first sensible manifestation of the Holy Ghost, the first voice from heaven in recognition of Jesus' office and glory, the first fight with Beelzebub, and the first victory over temptation. This did not happen so; it must have been ordered so. Thus the gospel began in God's purpose.
II. It had a second beginning IN THE ADVENT OF OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST.
III. It had another also IN THE WORK OF THE HOLY GHOST. See how Mark shows this clearly by the witness of the dove on the head of Christ as He comes up from the Jordan, and by the use of the energetic word "drive" when describing the urgency with which our Lord was constrained to endure the temptation. The good news of salvation began to be told in the moment when Satan received his defeat; it was the Spirit of God which here brought on the conflict and crowned the Victor with success. It is at this special point that the admonition reaches ourselves. The question above all others for us to ask and to answer is this: How does the work of the Holy Ghost effect the beginning of the gospel in the soul of an unregenerate man? The reply to this is not difficult. Sometimes by a strange disturbance, a sovereignly wrought uneasiness in the heart and conscience; the sinner does not know, perhaps, the explanation of his restlessness, but he becomes sure that his peace is not made, and that it ought to be made, with an offended God. Then also sometimes the Spirit uses the quiet communication of truth. By the slower processes of patient education a child is led on up into the knowledge of God. Then the Holy Ghost moves that awakened life, and unites it savingly to Jesus Christ as the Redeemer. And sometimes this same Divine Agent of regeneration employs dispensations of providence, prosperous or adverse. Some practical lessons are taught us here, and they will be remembered better if they are stated in order.
1. Every good and great thing originates in a purpose as certainly as God's gospel did in God's purpose. Every enterprise exists as a thought before it exists as a realization. No man ever became a Christian without as definite a purpose to begin the gospel in his heart as Mark had when he commenced to write his gospel in the Bible.
2. So there is a second lesson to learn: every true life must have a plan. Christ's life had God's plan. Any life will accomplish more if it finds the Divine plan and accepts it. If an author is compelled to plan a story with characters in it, in order to even moderate success in managing the unities, must he not likewise be forced to plan a career which he proposes to live out?
3. Put alongside of this another lesson: eminence and excellence come from consistency in matching ends to beginnings. Human beings are reached and moved best by long and steady forces, rather than by those which are intermittent.
4. Now for the best lesson of all: when once the gospel has had its real beginning in any energetic life, nothing can take it away at the end. Heaven is the end.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God;