The Genesis of the Gospel
By Rev. Dr. Sergio E. Arevalo, Jr.
December 07, 2014 (2nd Sunday of Advent)
Bob Woods tells the story of a couple who took their son, 11, and daughter, 7, to Carlsbad Caverns (Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a United States National Park in the Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico). As always, when the tour reached the deepest point in the cavern, the guide turned off all the lights to dramatize how completely dark and silent it is below the earth’s surface.
The little girl, suddenly enveloped in total darkness, was frightened and began to cry. Suddenly she heard the voice of her brother: “Don’t cry. Somebody here knows how to turn on the lights.” In a real sense, that is the message of the gospel: light is available, even when darkness seems overwhelming (Bob Woods, Pulpit Digest).
In our Gospel reading today, we are going to hear the light of the Gospel in the midst of darkness, and how a simple man helped to preach it to the people in his community.
I. The Good News is Inaugurated
Mark 1:1-3 says, “This is the beginning of the gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “See! I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way. He is a voice calling out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way for the Lord! Make his paths straight!'”
The good news of the Gospel of Mark begins not with birth story of Jesus as in Matthew, not with the birth story of John the Baptist as in Luke, and not with the beginning of time as in John. Rather, the gospel of Mark begins with a hearkening (listening) back to the words of the prophets (vv.1-3).
Clearly in verse 2 Prophet Isaiah is mentioned, but actually the words of Malachi are also used here, “Watch out! I’m sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the LORD you are looking for will come to his Temple. He is the messenger of the covenant whom you desire. Watch out! He is coming!” says the LORD of the Heavenly Armies” (Mal. 3:1).
In Isaiah 40:3, it says, “In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; and in the desert a straight highway for our God.”
Indeed, the Gospel of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, was already prophesied but now in our passage it is inaugurated! The inauguration happened through the realization of prophecy. Here, Mark introduced the “new Exodus” since he used “prepare the way of the Lord” as in Isaiah 40 (Oxford Annotated Bible).
Indeed, Mark introduced the “new Exodus” in the following words, “John was baptizing in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism about repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). John was baptizing and asking people to repent–these were rituals of entrance into God’s renewed covenant with God.
New exodus means people should leave the sinful life and enter the Kingdom of God. When the people saw this, verse 5 says, “People from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were flocking to him, being baptized by him while they confessed their sins.”
III. The God-Man has Power
John introduced in verses 7 and 8 that Jesus was coming as human and divine. In his words, “The one who is coming (as Man) after me is stronger than I am, and I am not worthy to bend down and untie his sandal straps. I baptized you with water, but it is he who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (divine).”
Our gospel reading today tells us that the good news comes in our midst with power. The gospel of Jesus is not just other teaching of other rabbis and teachers of religion. Jesus’ gospel is unique with full of realization and power. The gospel of Jesus when receives and internalizes, it will transform man. Then, he joins the new exodus and the new mission of God.
The world-famous violinist, Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962), earned good money with his concerts and compositions, but he generously gave most of it away. So, when he discovered a matchless or perfect violin on one of his trips, he wasn’t able to buy it.
Later, having raised enough money to meet the asking price, he returned to the seller, hoping to purchase the violin. But to his great dismay it had been sold to a collector.
Very disappointed, Kreisler was about to leave when he had an idea, and he told to the owner, “Could I play the instrument once more before it is consigned to silence?”
Permission was granted, and the great virtuoso filled the room with such heart-moving music that the collector’s emotions were deeply moved. “I have no right to keep that to myself,” he exclaimed. “It’s yours, Mr. Kreisler. Take it into the world, and let people hear it” (Our Daily Bread, February 4, 1994).
Like Mr. Kreisler who received the wonderful violin, we have received the Gospel of the Lord with power. We should not keep that in silence, we have no right to keep it to ourselves. We should share it to the world, we should share it to our family members, we should share it to our students, we should share it to our close friends, indeed, we should share it to anybody that we meet in our journey of life.