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?

The Heart of Jesus

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. However, before we look at what it means to have hearts for Jesus, we need to first see the heart of Jesus. In this post, Esther shows us the heart of our Savior from Mark 1.


I hated school like no one’s business. I was the worst student in the class, and probation became a pattern for each school year. My sister’s story was different. She did well in school. Unlike my sister, I always came back to my parents crying at the end of the school semester with a report card that looked like a candy cane, all white and red. One day, my sister came to my classroom to drop off my lunch box. I couldn’t help but to notice the teacher’s look on her face when she realized who my sister was. With a very surprised tone in her voice, she asked “Are you two related?”. I nodded and she continued asking, “What happened to you? Why are you not like your sister?” My heart as a 7-year-old was broken and embarrassed. It was then I concluded my knowledge and performance must determine who I was and am as a person. It would give and direct my worth and my future. Though, I began to buy the lie, I am thankful the Scriptures teach us the opposite and corrected me on that.

Mark, in his Gospel, gives us a glimpse of Jesus’s earthly ministry, His character, His love, and His compassion for people. In the first couple of passages, we come across John the Baptist introducing Jesus as the “mighty one, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie”. John the Baptist was right. He was not worthy, but God had called him to baptize Jesus with water according to Isiah 40:3. Why? Because that was the plan God had for him. He, John, heard the voice of God as He called Jesus His “Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11).

Anyone who does not know Jesus could assume that He, being the Son of God, would agree with what my second grade teacher taught me that day. Namely, performance is what matters. However, that is not the heart of Jesus. Jesus didn’t avoid temptation but suffered with endurance, so that we could follow in His steps. He called the uneducated, ordinary, and disliked people as His disciples to prove His point. These men didn’t know anything, but Jesus came to teach them and did so with authority (Mark 1:21-22). Jesus came to serve them (Mark 1:29-34) and did it with a heart of love and compassion for them (Mark 1:40-42).

Jesus came to make us free from believing that our future depends on what we can do for Him or anyone else. He came to preach the gospel of grace that invites us to repent from our sins and believe in His transforming power. He came to change our hearts and to extend an invitation for us to know and follow Him. That is the heart of Jesus.

I am grateful to tell you that Jesus saved me a few years later, but my battle against the lie I believed at age 7 is still current. This is a battle I fight everyday. It is a battle we all must fight every day. You may not have the exact struggle I do, but we each must remember our value, our future, and who we are as individuals is not defined by our roles. Our identities are not determined by our marital status, our work, or even our family. It has been determined by the blood of Jesus.