One of the most important questions that you and I have to answer is: who is the Messiah? And not just his identity, but also what Messiah has done and will do in order that we know how to respond to him properly. And one of the best places to find that information is in the gospels. So what we’re going to do today is to begin a series in the Gospel of Mark. We’re going to go through every chapter, every verse, and even every word, so that we have a proper understanding of who is Messiah, and what is his work.
So with that said, take out your Bible, and look with me to the book of Mark in chapter one. The book of Mark in chapter one. Now, we’re going to be using a text, a Greek text, because we want to pay very close attention to not how others translated it, because many times, they paraphrase the words. What we want to do is see exactly the order of them, the meaning of them, how they work together, the nuances from the grammar, so that we can have a fuller understanding of God’s revelation to us concerning his Messiah, and why Messiah came, and why he will return. So look with me, as I said, to the book of Mark in chapter one.
Now, the first word that appears in the text is the word “beginning, as in the beginning of the gospel. And we have to ask ourselves: why that word, “beginning?” Well, in the same way that Mark began his gospel with the word “beginning,” so do we see that same thing in the book of Genesis. The Hebrew term “Bereshit” means simply “in the beginning.” So we see a connection between what we learn in the book of Genesis in those opening chapters, and what we learn in the book of Mark in his opening chapter.
Whereas, the book of Genesis dealt with the creation of the world, we’re going to see that Mark is focusing in on redemption. According to the Jewish sages, there is a connection between creation and redemption. In fact, one of the ways that Judaism identifies the redemption is the second creation. So look again here at verse one, “The beginning of the gospel.” Now when you hear that term, gospel, what enters into your mind? Someone will say, “Well, it’s good news.” It is. But the term “gospel” specifically means good news concerning the redemption.
Oftentimes a Jewish individual will hear that word “gospel” and they’ll say, “Well, that’s not for me. That’s a Gentile concept.” Well, not exactly, because the prophet who used that phrase in Hebrew more than any other prophet is Isaiah. He spoke about the gospel, but he used the term [foreign language 00:03:35]. Why do I share that with you? Because of the base meaning of that word [foreign language 00:03:43] or [foreign language 00:03:43] means to basically evangelize, evangelicalize someone, and that is to share the good news.
But here’s the important truth in the word [foreign language 00:03:56], to share the good news, there is a Hebrew word there, and that word is the word [foreign language 00:04:04], which means flesh. Now it gets more specific. The good news, the good news of redemption is that God has visited his people in the flesh. What we began talking about today is a proper understanding of the identity of Messiah, and we need to understand that Messiah is God incarnate, God in the flesh, who has visited us for the purpose of what? Doing the work of redemption. Now there’s a relationship between the word redemption and the word salvation.
Let’s look again at that first verse, the beginning of the gospel of Yeshua, the Messiah, or Jesus, the Christ. Now, I said the word Yeshua because that word Yeshua is a name, but it’s derived from the word Yeshua, which means salvation. And I want you to see the relationship between redemption and salvation. Redemption revolves around a payment, and the outcome of that payment is salvation, which is related to victory. It is rooted in joy and Thanksgiving, and it stems from intimacy with God. So we read in verse one the beginning of the gospel of Messiah, Yeshua, the son of God.
Now, Mark wanted to make it very clear on the beginning of his gospel, the identity of Messiah Yeshua, not just that he’s the Christ, the savior, the redeemer, but the son of God. In fact, there’s some manuscripts, ancient manuscripts, that uses a different word for God. Instead of just the generic word for God, it uses that sacred word Creos for the Lord, to emphasize that point. But it’s interesting, because towards the end of Mark’s gospel, he comes back. When Messiah stands in that trial, before the Sanhedrin, the high priest Caiaphas, he asks him a question. He says, “are you the son of God?” And when Messiah affirmed and said, yes, he was, what happened? He tore his garment and said, he is a blasphemer.
Now, what’s the point? The term “Son of God” identifies one as divine as the servant of God, who is divine who came to do the work of redemption. You see, we believe when we look at the scripture that God has revealed as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. So when it says the Son of God, in no way is this a statement less than God Almighty. Again, verse one, the beginning of the gospel of Messiah Yeshua, the Son of God, just as it is written out. It’s also important to see that there is a special tendency in the new covenant. And that is to place almost every truth that is revealed here, to place it upon a old Testament passage; to show the clear revelation, the clear continuity between that which is written in the Hebrew scriptures and that which is written in the new covenant.
Now, it’s sad that many of our people hear the term, the new covenant, and they say, well, that’s not for me. That’s not really a Jewish book. Oh, isn’t it? They would say, well, the most important Jewish book is the Talmud. And the Talmud comprises of two works, the Mishnah and the Gamara. What’s important to know is this: the final edition of the Gamara was not completed until the third century AD; approximately more than 200 years or 120 years after the completion of the new covenant. Likewise, we know that the Gamara, the basis, the most important part of the Talmud, it was not completed until the fifth century AD.
So both of those works are later, older than the new covenant. And when we look at the new covenant, we see that every author was a Jewish individual. Now, some people will say, well, what about Luke? Well, if you study Luke, you’ll find that he was one of the most knowledgeable people about Jewish life, Jewish law. And so, the only reason that some people say that Luke may have been a Gentile is because he writes and reveals the person and the work of Messiah with a global significance. Well, let me ask you, could not a Jewish individual do that as well?
Let’s move back to verse two: “just as it’s written in the prophet Isaiah.” Now, I believe there’s a couple of different reasons why, first and foremost, he speaks about Isaiah. As we learn, we also need to remember that connection between Isaiah and the gospel. Isaiah was a well known prophet. In fact, each Shabbat, that is each Sabbath in the synagogue, not only is the Torah read, but also a passage from the prophets. And Isaiah is more read than any of the other profits. Now, he quotes him here for a reason. He’s showing an order of God’s plan, God’s plan to bring salvation to the world.
Verse two: “just as it has been written in the prophet Isaiah, behold I send my servant before you.” Now, we have to ask ourself, before you, who is that “you” that is being referred to here. Sometimes when we don’t know the answer, we just keep reading and hope that that will be revealed to us. So let’s continue: “who prepares your way” Well, once again, we have that pronoun, the second person singular, you or your; who is this person? We still know, but when we read the next verse, it becomes clear. “A voice crying in the wilderness. Prepare the way of the Lord.”
Now, when we look at that word there, Lord, we see that now it’s third person. It reveals who we’re talking about. We’re talking about the Lord, but in the context that Mark places, he understands the intent of Isaiah; that Lord, that one is Messiah, who is going to do the work of redemption. Now, the one who is the one who prepares the way, and he cries out, and it’s very important that we see this, he cries out in the wilderness.
Well, not too long ago, I was giving a message and we were studying from the book of Numbers. The book of Numbers in Hebrews is literally called [foreign language 00:11:50], or in the wilderness or desert; same word in Hebrew. And the point here is this: we learned that God sentenced his people to 40 years in the wilderness. Why? Well, the wilderness, one can’t live there in and of himself. He was trying; that is, Hashem, the God of Israel was teaching the people to trust him, to depend upon him, to rely upon him and that’s what we’re going to see here. There is an inherit message to us.
John is preparing the way. He is called to do so in the wilderness. Why? To teach us that we need to rely upon God, to trust him. And the way to do that is by basing your life upon the word of God. What we read in the scripture. Now, the one who is the preparer of this way, who is it? Well, look if you would to verse four. We read here: “and it came about John the Baptist was in the wilderness.” Now, here again, that term Baptist is oftentimes problematic. We think once again, that has nothing to do with the Jewish people, but the term is literally to immerse, and immersion was well known in Jewish life.
In fact, if you’ve ever been to Israel, and you’re going from one archeological site to another, and they’ll say, well, we know that this community was an ancient Jewish community. And someone will say, well, how do you know that? And the answer is because of those ritual baths. [foreign language 00:13:40]. If there’s a [foreign language 00:13:42] there, a ritual bath, we know it’s a Jewish community because many, many, many years ago, going all the way back to the Exodus from Egypt, that concept of immersion was placed upon the Jewish people as a way of showing a transition, a change; being sanctified for a purpose. So we see here the John has been set aside for a purpose, and he’s calling others to be ready for that purpose.
And let me just tell you what that purpose is. It is the kingdom of God. When we look, whether we’re talking about any of the four gospels or any of the writings in the new covenant, we see foundationally that which is important is the kingdom of God. We’re going to see in another week that when Messiah began speaking, the first thing he said was repent. Why? Because the kingdom of God is at hand. So look again, once more that that fourth verse: “and John the Baptist came about in the wilderness and he was proclaiming a baptism.” Remember, a change; baptism and change are synonymous, and here it says “a baptism of repentance.” Now, the word repentance in Hebrew [foreign language 00:15:08], simply means to turn. Sometimes, it can be understood as a response, a proper turning based upon truth, but in the Greek language, the word [foreign language 00:15:21], it reveals something in addition to that.
The word [foreign language 00:15:25] here is two Greek words. The first one is the word Meta. It can mean with or after. The second one, Noya, comes from the Greek word, to know or knowledge. So here, it’s coming about repentance as what you do with knowledge. What knowledge? The truth of God, the fact that God is Holy and he has called his people to be Holy. He has given us his word and his word is convicting. It shows us what his expectations are and how, unfortunately, we, because the scripture says we all have fallen short of the glory of God. And therefore, we need a change. We need to repent, but we need to do it with knowledge.
The second way that it could be translated is after knowing; after learning, there is a responsibility to put that truth into action. See, the primary purpose of this study in the book of Mark is not only to know who Messiah is, what he has done, that is the person and work of Messiah Yeshua, but also to respond to him, to respond to what he’s done in a proper way. Verse four: “and it came about John the Immerser in the wilderness, and he was proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sin.” Now, that involves conviction. People who are not under conviction, a godly conviction, won’t be concerned about the forgiveness of sins. And we see that that John was commissioned; he was uniquely chosen by God.
And he was chosen by God, as we’ll see in a few minutes, because of several reasons, one of which is that John placed his life’s emphasis on the right location. Move on if you would to verse five. Now, we’ve already seen that John came upon the scene. He didn’t go to the largest city. He didn’t go to the Holy city of Jerusalem and began to teach. In fact, he went into the wilderness, where no one was, and because of the anointing upon him, because of God’s call in his life, people began to come unto him. And we see how God works and uses those who trust and serve him.
We read in verse five: “and went out unto him all,” and that’s an important statement, “all the region of Judea, and all the ones in Jerusalem, and they were immersed or baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins.” Now, that’s an important statement. All, all the people in the region of Judea, all the people in Jerusalem, they went out. Why? Conviction. They were moved by truth. And one of the questions that you’re going to have to be constantly asking yourself is this: am I going to be moved by the truth of God? Am I going to respond to it in a proper way, within the framework of the authority of scripture? Or am I going to simply continue and reject that knowledge, reject that truth, and live the life that I want?
So the question is whether your life is going to be offered up unto him or whether you’re going to stay in control and live in disobedience and rebellion to God. Well, let’s continue. Look if you would to verse six. Now, the question that we should be asking ourselves is why is John being used by God, and why are the people responding to him like no other prophet before? And I believe we see the answer to that question in verse six. We read: “and John was clothed in camel hair.” Now, camel hair, today, you can go into a trendy shop and a gentleman can buy a camel hair sport coat. And let me tell you, it will set you back a nice piece of change. But back 2000 years ago, back in the Middle East, camel’s hair was not desirable. It was basically garbage.
And it tells us something. It tells us the John, instead of investing money in clothes, he just used the cheapest, he just used what was available, free, to clothe himself. It says something about where he places the emphasis. Likewise, we read something about his diet. We read in verse six, not only did he have camel’s hair, but he had also a leather belt girding him, and that’s important. I thought to myself, where is one of the first times that we think about a person being girded? Usually being girded signifies a readiness to serve. Remember when the children of Israel ate that Passover? They were supposed to eat it with their sandals on and with their loins girded. Why? To get ready to go and to serve the Lord. John was someone who signified that he did not place his emphasis upon worldly things, but on being ready to faithfully carry out God’s will.
We also see in this passage, and now we’ll get to the dietary part, what he ate. It says that he ate two things, locusts and honey. Now, this honey was not the honey that was produced from bees. No, it says literally wild honey. And wild honey, if you do a good study of those words, that phrase, it will tell you that we’re talking about that jam that either came from a date or from a fig. And what is referring to here is someone just picking up a date or a fig that’s fallen on the ground and breaking it open and putting little a fluid, a little moisture, water in it, and making a jam. So he would take locusts, and you couldn’t buy locusts at your market. They weren’t for sale. John would simply catch them and he would dip them in honey, this wild honey, and that was his diet.
We see that he didn’t put, in this passage, he did not put an emphasis on food or on clothing. Now, when I hear that, I think about what Messiah said about the birds, who didn’t put any emphasis upon their attire and the grass of the field. They didn’t worry, but they were what? The flowers and the grass and all of that are spectacularly clothed. God does so. We see some of the birds with stunning colors. Why? They rely upon God. Same truth here. John was relying upon God. The kingdom is not food and drink. John’s emphasis was on the same thing that Messiah came to establish, the kingdom of God. Verse seven: “and he proclaimed saying, the one who is coming after me, he is greater than me and I am not worthy to bend down and even to loosen the straps of his sandals.”
Now, John was a humble man. It’s pretty important that he was a humble individual because the scripture says out of all those born of women, John was the greatest. Now, imagine that; him being seen by Messiah himself as the greatest man born in a natural way of women that has ever been. And he understood that he had to become less, that he was nothing compared to the person of Messiah because he understood the identity of Messiah: fully man but fully God, the Son of God.
Well, look on to verse eight. We see another reason why John understood the greatness of the one who was coming after him. Look at verse eight he says, “for I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Now, it’s important that we see that the Holy Spirit is mentioned so early on here. We’ve talked about the fact that it’s clearly this passage in verse one, reveals Yeshua as the savior and the redeemer, and an important aspect of redemption, in fact, let me share it with you this way: every day in the synagogue, in the morning service on a regular day, in the afternoon service on a Sabbath, there’s a passage of scripture that we read. And that passage of scripture is from the book of Isaiah. And there we read how a redeemer is going to come from Zion.
He is going to turn away the sins of Jacob. And what’s the outcome of this redemptive work? It speaks about his spirit being placed upon his people. So we see here a clear connection. See, the best way to understand the revelation of the new covenant is to understand the revelation of the old Testament, because throughout the new Testament the writers take truth, take passages, takes words that would have been well understood by their audience. Unfortunately today, we’ve lost some of that. We’re living in a different time, a different culture, speaking a different language, and so many of us are far removed from the framework of Judaism that we miss out.
But when it speaks here about he is going to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, it tells us that he’s going to do the work of redemption. He is going to pay the price so the Spirit of God can be dwelling within us. And we learn how in the book of Genesis, the Spirit of God, the world was in chaos. It was without form and void. And what do we find? The Spirit of God was hovering upon the waters, and what happened? Order was brought about. See, that’s what Messiah can do for you and me; to bring into our life a righteous order. Well, we’ll close with that until next time when we continue on in the book of Mark and see Messiah’s first work that he performed.