Note: This Post is part of the series “Studies in Mark” see the Series Index for other posts in this series.
1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
4John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
–Mark 1:1 – 8 (ESV)
See also: Malachi 3:1; Matthew 3:1-12; Luke 3:2-17
“The beginning” we are told here in verse 1, “of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” is right here in Mark. “In the beginning God said let there be light” we are told in Genesis and John starts his gospel in the same way “In the beginning was the word…he was with God in the beginning. Mark skips over everything in Jesus earlier days but goes right to his Baptism, the beginning of his fulfilling his ministry.
…but v.2 anchors this narrative in the Old Testament. Mark 1:2-3 “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’” And that voice was John the Baptist, Jesus cousin, and of whom he said there had never been anyone greater “born of women” which pretty well covers everyone up to that point.
The question that came to mind as I read this was how effective would one voice in the wilderness be? It’s that same question about ‘if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it did it make any sound?’ Truly from day to day most people go about their day listening to no one and nothing whatsoever except exactly what they want to listen to. They listen to their iPods or their radios or their blue-tooth headsets but the fact is that there aren’t very many people who listen. A preacher in this day is like one crying out in the wilderness. A single voice preaching the word of God…if no one listens does it matter? Is that voice any less true if no one hears it?
The answer, praise God, is yes. Yes it matters. The Word of God preached to an empty room has an impact, if on no one else, the preacher. The Word of God always does that which he sends if forth to do. Isaiah 55:10 – 11 (ESV) 10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, 11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Don’t be afraid, then, to be a voice crying out in the wilderness because let me tell you something—not that you haven’t already figured this out—there’s a lot of wilderness out there. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem like you’re making any dents in your community or your workplace with your witness. Just go about the business of the cross and live that life to which Christ has called you. Live out the Word of God day by day and it will work the purpose for which God has sent it.
I remember the last time I had an office job it was a huge facility and I was sort of tucked away in what had once been, I was quite certain, a storage closet. Immediately outside my door was a copy machine, which was handy when I needed one, but loud. If someone was using it while I was on the phone I had to close the door. After a while though it turned out to be a blessing because I got pretty good at fixing it and saving someone’s copy job was a great opportunity to share the gospel.
When I first got there I got a lot done because no one knew me. After awhile when someone had trouble they would show up at that copy machine and want to talk. So I’d listen and offer some encouragement or some scripture.
You see? A voice…crying out in the wilderness. Be faithful with what you have, don’t bury it. God can use whatever it is, even if it’s just fixing a copy machine.