‘This is the beginning of the story of how Jesus Christ, the Son of God, brought the good news to men.’
So begins Mark’s gospel. The focus of the Gospel, from the first sentence, is Jesus. Yet the action begins with someone else. The second sentence, as written in translation by William Barclay, starts ‘There is a passage in Isaiah the prophet which says ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.’ The Book of Isaiah was written about 7 centuries before the birth of Jesus.
Before moving forwards, Mark looks back. He quotes from the Prophet Micah ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘prepare the Way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.’ In its original context, this is a warning to a nation who had lost their way. A warning to their priests and leaders that they should change their ways. Micah was written around 400 years before the birth of Jesus.
These are the words which Mark uses to introduce John the Baptist, cousin of this Jesus. The words of Malachi had been delivered to a nation which had lost its way. These same words introduce the one who will direct them back to the right path.
‘Mark starts the story of Jesus a long way back. It did not begin with Jesus birth. It did not even begin with John the Baptist in the wilderness. It began with the dreams of the prophets long ago; that is to say, it began long, long ago in the mind of God.’ (Wm Barclay, Commentary on Mark)
This is the start of the greatest story ever told. The story not of a man, but of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.