A Heart for Jesus, Week 1 (Mark 1:1-13)

The heart of the Christmas season is celebrating the life of Jesus Christ. In His life, we see the identity of Jesus Christ on display. Jesus came to change our hearts for Him. How does the life of Jesus change our hearts for Jesus? Each Friday throughout the month of December, Esther St John will walk us through Mark 1 to help our hearts see Jesus. In this post, Esther walks us through Mark 1:1-13.

To Follow Jesus

As we begin our study in Mark, we are looking at “the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Mark 1:1). We must rightly understand this term gospel. The gospel is not a cliché word for the Christian life nor is it about what we do. The gospel is the good news found in Jesus Christ alone. Only through the gospel can we have a right relationship with God. A heart that follows Jesus is a heart that has come to know Jesus. Throughout the Gospel of Mark, the identity of Jesus is on display. In the week’s text, we are introduced to His title “Son of God”. It is important for us to understand this title. Son of God does not imply Jesus is a created being, because He is the second person of the eternal Trinity. In his book Jesus the Son of God, Dr. D.A. Carson clarifies and says, in part at least, when Jesus is called the Son of God, it is saying He is the true messianic King. When we come to know Jesus as this Son of God, we believe and see differently and are changed. In particular, a heart that follows Jesus believes He is the promised Son of God (vv. 1-8) and sees He is the sinless Son of God (vv. 9-13).

A heart that follows Jesus believes he is the promised Son of God because the Old Testament Scriptures prophesied and promised what would surround the coming of Christ. The person of John the Baptist confirmed it. Both Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1 are quoted in verses 2-3, though Isaiah is only mentioned since more of the quoted material comes from Isaiah. 

Examine the Text:

  • Why does Mark quote these Old Testament passages? Read Isaiah 40:1-8 and Malachi 3:1-5 and observe what those texts are talking about in their context.

Notice, the text does not only highlight the mission of John the Baptist but his attire too, “Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey” (verse 6). What may seem like an odd wardrobe at first glance is an intentional detail that connects him with an Old Testament prophet.

Examine the Text:

  • Read 2 Kings 1:8 and compare it with Mark 1:6. Who is John the Baptist likened to here? Why is this important in understanding Jesus as the promised Son of God? (see Matthew 11:14; 17:11-13 for help.)

The prophecies of John the Baptist point to the promised Messiah who was to come, Jesus Christ. Because of this, a heart that follows Jesus believes he is the promised Son of God.

Apply to Life:

  • How does realizing the Old Testament Scriptures spoke about the coming of Jesus hundreds of years before His coming strengthen your faith in Christ and encourage you in the credibility of the Bible?
  • What are some areas of your life where you embrace Jesus as your authority as the Son of God? What are areas of your life where you may not tend to see Jesus as your authority as the Son of God?
  • All authority has been given to Jesus by God the Father (Matthew 28:18; John 17:1-5). What steps will you take to surrender these areas to Him?

A heart that follows Jesus also sees He is the sinless Son of God. Mark 1:9-13 highlights the baptism of Jesus and His testing in the wilderness. It is important to understand these scenes together. Jesus’s baptism was not due to Him publicly confessing and repenting of sin. Rather, His baptism was to put forth His mission. The mission to save could only be accomplished by cleansing and by a spotless sacrifice.

Examine the Text:

  • Mark 1:12-13 mentions Jesus being tested by Satan. However, in order to gain more information on how Jesus responded to the testing, read Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-11. What does Jesus’s response say about who He is?

Apply to Life:

  • How does Jesus’s response to Satan’s testings inform us on how we should respond to temptations? How can you prepare to respond like that this week?

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