Mark 1:2-15 – Beginnings


Mark 1:2-15


The Gospel according to Mark begins with an introduction to John the Baptist and a brief description of Jesus’ baptism and his testing in the wilderness.


Drawing on the prophetic words of Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3, Mark’s first beginning identifies John the Baptist as the forerunner of Jesus. John’s baptism of repentance draws people from Jerusalem and takes place in the Jordan River. His message draws attention to the one who comes after him and who will baptize with the Holy Spirit (1:2-8).

The Gospel’s second beginning is the story of Jesus coming to John from Nazareth in Galilee to be baptized. As Jesus comes up from the waters, the heavens are torn apart, a manifestation of the Spirit descends in the form of a dove, and a voice from heaven announces, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (1:9-11).

The Gospel’s third beginning is the narrative of Jesus being driven by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days to face the testing of Satan. There among the wild beasts, angels minister to Jesus (1:12-13).

The Gospel’s fourth beginning ties the arrest of John to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in Galilee, where he proclaims God’s good news (gospel). Jesus’ announcement of the nearness of God’s kingly reign and rule calls for turning around in repentance and believing in the good news that takes place in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth (1:14-15).