Note: This Post is part of the series “Studies in Mark” see the Series Index for other posts in this series.
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” 12The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. 14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”–Mark 1:9 – 15 (ESV)
The other gospels tell us that when Jesus came to John to be baptized that John protested saying “I need to be baptized by you.” But Jesus tells him to go ahead and do it to ‘fulfill all righteousness.’ One of the Lord’s commandments is for us to make disciples and then baptize them. I think it’s an important step for a new believer. It identifies them as a Christian and it marks a spot in their memory where they can say “This is where I began to live for Christ.” Things get tough sometimes, as we all know, and its important to have those memories. When the skies ‘are like brass’ and there just doesn’t seem to be any end to the misery we need to be able to look back upon those spiritual milestones and say, “God is near.” We need to remember the mountain, to plumb an old metaphor, when we’re in the valley.
Here we are reminded that the valleys and the mountains are often in close proximity. In verse 11 Jesus hears a voice from heaven proclaiming, “You are my beloved Son with you I am well pleased.” In the very next verse Jesus is driven into the wilderness by the spirit of God to be tempted by Satan for forty days.
Forty days is a long time. It’s longer when you’re being tempted every step of the way. For Jesus I think it was just a matter of his being like us in every way. He was a man being tempted. With what we cannot even imagine. We get a glimpse when, in last ditch effort, Satan offers Jesus what he already has: the whole world.
It’s an old trick. It is, essentially, the same thing he offered Adam and Eve. They knew God in a direct face to face manner. They walked with him of an evening and tended the garden of Eden. They knew God. And yet when they were offered a cheap substitute, they fell. This temptation was no different. “Worship me…” Satan said, “And I will give you all of this.” “Let me be God in your place” is what he meant. Are we no different? Don’t we try to usurp the place of God day by day in our own lives, doing what we please and worshiping ourselves and our own desires? Jesus knew better than that, though, and replies, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” An emphatic declaration that he was God and would be God no matter what his own creation did to him.
In v.14 we see that John was arrested, an event which, effectively, marked the end of his ministry. Jesus came into Galilee right after that “proclaiming the gospel of God,” in v.15 saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Repent and believe.
It’s a simple message. Repent of your sin. Believe in the gospel.