GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 2
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2010|
|Who is Jesus? As we enter our study of the Gospel of Mark, we’re going to present proof from five sources that Jesus is the Messiah. Also, why is baptism important for a Christian?|
Preparing the Way for a King
This morning we start our journey through Mark and the title of the message is “Preparing the Way for a King – Part 1.” This morning we’re going to study part 1 of a three section series. The first question we’re going to ask ourselves is, “Who is this man?” And the answer, you’ll look in your notes, is Jesus. Next week we’ll ask ourselves, “What is the message of the man?” And the message is repentance and belief. And then thirdly we’ll ask ourselves the question, “What is the mission of the man?” And my goal is this: To prove to you that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. But I don’t want you to take my word for it; I’m going to bring in some pretty important men this morning. We’re going to bring in Malachi to tell you that; we’re going to bring in Isaiah to tell you that; we’re going to bring in John the Baptist to prove that; we’re even going to bring in God the Father to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, and then you’ll have to hang around to the end because we have a special appearance by someone we’ll learn about in just a few moments.
Let’s go to Mark 1:1. “The beginning”—don’t gloss over that—“the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Now, what’s amazing is this: that word beginning in the language of the New Testament Greek is the first word of the book. John also, in his gospel, decides to use that very word to start his book. Remember John’s gospel? In the what? “In the beginning was the word…the word was with God…the word was God…and the word became [what?] flesh.” And I think they’re both connecting and drawing our attention back all the way to Genesis. How does Genesis start? How does the beginning of the Bible start? “In the [what] beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Now why would they do that? I think what they’re trying to do is remind us that God has been working through the world for all of eternity, and His activity not only has been accomplished in the past; but God is still continuing to work in the present, and He has worked at this moment by manifesting Himself in the form of Christ as a man. God always has worked and is working. “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Verse 2: “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his path.” John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And 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. “Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and he ate locusts and wild honey.” Interesting and appetizing, right?
Verse 7: “And he preached, saying, ‘After me comes one who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not even worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’ The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And 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.”
Let me share with you the brief outline here. I’m going to bring in five people to authenticate who Jesus is. Look at the first one. Malachi authenticated Jesus as the Messiah. Now, “Robby, where are you pulling Malachi out? I don’t see Malachi in the text.” Notice that little footnote on the end of the word “prophet” in verse 2: “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet.” If you go down to the bottom of your Bible, you’ll notice that the footnote says it could be, in some manuscripts, the word “prophets,” plural. And if you notice the first part of that insert, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face.” That’s a direct quotation from Malachi.
Go back to Malachi 3:1. Malachi predicted the coming of the Messiah. “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will [here it is] prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.” Listen to the description of this man. “But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the LORD.” He’s describing John the Baptist coming as one preparing the way for the Lord.
Now here’s the point here. It was promised in the Old Testament and, as we see in Mark, it was fulfilled in Christ. Malachi authenticated Jesus as the Messiah. But he’s not the only one.
Isaiah, secondly, authenticated Jesus as the Messiah. Go back to Mark 1. “As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,… ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make His path, straight.”’” Go back with me to Isaiah 40:3: “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness [here it is] prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up,and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’”
Now, here’s the question: Who is this man that will prepare the way for the Lord? Well, let’s go back to Malachi quickly. Malachi 4 tells us before he moves on and finished his letter. He gives up a snippet as to who this man is. Malachi 4:5-6. Here it is: “Behold, I will send you [who is it? Elijah. I’m going to send you] Elijah…before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” According to Jewish tradition, get this, they believed that the glory of the Lord would come after someone prepared the way for the Lord. And so that’s what the thinking was.
Now, you and I have always been taught that the Messiah would come after someone prepares His way, that God would send a messenger to precede the Messiah but that’s not true. What’s interesting is the Messiah is not going to come after the preparer, God’s going to come. You see, if you study some of the intertestamental period—meaning the writings that were written between Malachi and the New Testament by the Jewish people—all throughout these writings and this literature that has been preserved, they say not the Messiah’s coming, they say “God’s coming.” And Mark says the same thing.
Go back to Mark 1. “Prepare the way of the [who?] the Lord.” See, the Lord’s coming. Mark is saying if you didn’t pick it up, Jesus Christ is God himself. He’s not just the Messiah. Yes, He’s the Messiah, but He’s coming as God himself to the world. Malachi authenticated Jesus as the Messiah. We see Isaiah authenticating Jesus as the Messiah.
Notice, John the Baptist authenticates Jesus as the Messiah. In verse 4 here, notice there’s no transition; there’s no conjunction. Mark, what are you doing here? I mean, what about a “therefore,” or a “moreover,” or a “furthermore?” No, it’s just, “John appeared.” It just shows us the abruptness that, before you know it, John’s on the scene.
What’s amazing is John actually dressed up like Elijah. Now, you and I say if we were there we would have seen it, right? But people missed it. They had been hearing about the Messiah and they’d been hearing about this one preparing the way for the Messiah, but they missed it by John’s dress. Maybe they’d see it by John’s appetite. Here’s an unusual dresser but he also had an unusual appetite, right? He ate locust with honey. I believe if John was here today, he would have eaten sushi, right? He would have been a sushi eater. He would have been a little different. He’d of liked exotic foods. Back then if you eat locust many people believed you put honey on top to flavor it. And some people have said that locusts are a good source of protein. I don’t know that by experience but I’ve read that okay.
And so John was an unusual man, he had unusual appetite, he was an unusual dresser. But this is the point: John spoke with unusual authority. John confronted the religious leaders of the day. We don’t know if he had any formal education, we don’t know if he went to the rabbinic schools, we don’t know—we probably believe he didn’t. But John comes on the scene and he rebukes the religious leaders of the day. It would be like someone coming here today and calling out the legislators, the congressmen, the presidents, the politicians, the religious leaders. And he rebukes them and says, “You need to confess your sin and you need to repent. And not only that, I want to invite you to be baptized in this water to prove that you’ve done it.” See, it’s one thing to say I repent and believe, or confess my sin; it’s another thing to follow through with action. And that’s what John did. He said, “I want you to follow through with action, and the action is to be baptized.”
Now that word baptism is a word that’s been controversial through the years. Some people have said you can be baptized by being sprinkled. You can be baptized by being poured over, you can be baptized by being submerged or immersed. So the question is, “Robby, which one is it?” Glad you asked. This is the answer. What’s interesting about the Greek language is if you study the words, the words tell you the meaning of the action. That word in the language of the New Testament is the Greek word baptizo. Baptizo is the word that means to dip, to plunge or to immerse. The word picture is to actually take a white cloth and to take a bowl of red dye. You take the white cloth and as you put it into the dye, the dye actually penetrates the very fibers of the cloth; in essence it consumes it, it envelops the cloth. And so to be baptized means to be what? Submerged; to be immersed in the water. And that’s what John was calling people to do.
Now, Robby, “When did this start?” We don’t really know when the practice of the baptism or immersion started, but we do know this; Jewish people were familiar with the process of going under the water. Now, it was different for the Jewish people than it is for us. See, the Jewish nation knew baptism for ceremonial cleansing. In fact, if you go to the temple today in Israel you’ll notice archeologist has uncovered hundreds of these different walkways where you can go in and be baptized called mikvehs. Now, what happened is Jesus, we believe, as He would have been to the temple, would have walked down this series of steps into the water; He would have crossed His arms on His chest; and He would have dunked Himself. Nobody would have baptized you in the first century, you would have baptized yourself. And so the baptism was a little different than John’s baptism. But John said, “I’m calling you to be baptized for the repentance and confession of your sins.”
No, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on repentance, because we’ll do it next week. But let me just say something about repentance. Repentance is the compound connection of two words. One word, a part of repentance, means “to change one’s mind about something.” The other part of repentance means “to change one’s action about something.” It’s one thing to think differently about sin; it’s another thing to stop sinning. That’s repentance. And John says I’m calling you to stop both.
But here’s the question, what is the difference between John’s baptism and the baptism that Jesus wants? Look at it in verse 7: “After me comes one who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” Now, what is he saying here? Don’t miss this. In Jesus’ day when someone would come to your house there was a servant or a slave that would meet you at the door, take your sandals off, bend down and untie your sandals, remove the sandals, and welcome you in. John says the One who’s about to come, I’m even lower than a servant or a slave compared to him. This Man is special. He’s talking about Jesus. And then he says, “I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” That’s the difference.
John authenticated Jesus as the Messiah; Malachi authenticated Jesus as the Messiah; Isaiah authenticated Jesus as the Messiah; but the Father authenticated Jesus as the Messiah. Listen, Dr. Kelley, the president of New Orleans Seminary, said this interesting quote. He said, “It’s one thing to know what you believe; but the question is, do you believe what you know?”
This was the passage; when I read this I realized I needed to follow through with baptism. Now, I know in a group this size there are some of you who can resonate with that this morning. Maybe you were baptized in a different denomination as an infant. You’ve never followed through with that because as an adult or as a high school student or college student you came to Christ and you have never followed repentance and faith through baptism. You’ve never done that. Maybe you’re in this place today and maybe you accepted Christ as a child or as a youth, maybe in this church, or maybe in another church. But then later in life you came to Christ and you’ve never been baptized after that. I just want to challenge you, baptism biblically always comes after repentance and faith in Christ. That’s what did it for me. As I studied this passage, I started to realize I needed to be baptized as a man at 27 because I didn’t do it before hand.
Let me tell you what happens here. It’s probably the year 26 or 27 AD. Jesus leaves Nazareth and he comes down to Jericho. I think it’s in Jericho by the Jordan. As He approaches John the Baptist—John at this point has been preaching for six months. And he’s not preaching health, wealth and prosperity here. He’s not preaching “how to” sermons or “Home Depot” sermons. I mean he’s preaching touch stuff. “Repent, you brood of vipers. Who warned you of the wrath to come?” And Jesus comes on the scene.
Imagine the scene. Hundreds if not thousands have already come. It says all Judea, all Jerusalem, had come. And then Jesus comes on the scene. And what’s monumental about this passage is that it’s the first time in scripture Jesus sees John. Could you imagine that? We don’t know if they’d met before; maybe not. But we know for sure this is the first time eyeball to eyeball Jesus sees John the Baptist.
Now, here’s the question: Did John know who the Messiah was? Go to John 1. Let’s see what John says. “And John bore witness [Verse 32]: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him [before this], but he who sent me [that’s God] to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.” And I have seen and I have borne witness that this is the Son of God.’”
But this is the better question: Why is John baptizing Jesus? John even says, “Jesus, you should be baptizing me. Why am I baptizing you?” Now, some people have said the reason John’s baptizing Jesus is because Jesus is authenticating the message of John. And that’s true; Jesus is authenticating it. And what I means is He’s saying, “John, you’re right. You had to receive me. I’m trusting and believing that you’re right.” That’s part of the issue. But let’s go to Matthew 3 and see what Matthew says about the message: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’” What he’s saying is, “John, don’t stop it. Don’t stop me. This needs to be done.”
What’s amazing is, John says God sent him to baptize, and I’m going to submit to you. God sent Jesus to be baptized and here it is, “to fulfill all righteousness.” What does that mean? This is what it means: Righteousness is doing the right thing. Jesus is saying, “God told me what to do as a man, and I did it.” John’s saying, “God told me what to do as a man and I did it.” You know, as believers, the first step of obedience after coming to Christ is what? What’s the first step? Baptism, right? Have you done that? And it’s not only authenticating baptism, it’s identifying Christ’s work in your life.
I mean, imagine the scene. All these people are around. John comes up to Jesus and it says as John is putting Him under the water, the heavens open up. Mark says they are torn open and it’s violent; but Matthew and Luke don’t go so much; they just say they were open. But the heavens are torn open and the Spirit descends like a dove. Now Luke makes us think it’s a bodily form of the Spirit but I don’t think it is. I think it’s symbolic. I think the Spirit symbolically is resting on Jesus as a dove and He is identifying Jesus as the Messiah and equipping and filling Him for service on earth.
He is authenticating; and then, get this, the voice of God comes from Heaven and says, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” This passage is what you’re going to use in your arsenal as a weapon against those who deny the Trinity, right? We have people in other denominations and other groups that will deny the Trinity. And if you’re asked at your doorstep, that’s where they get you, right? The Trinity is not real? You take them to this passage.
This is why: In this Trinitarian passage all three persons of the godhead are here. You see, the Trinity says that God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit three different persons—one God. This shows us that all three are present. They’re not modes, they’re not transitions, they’re not expressions. They’re all at the same time. God the Father, the voice is there. Jesus in person, He’s there. And the Spirit, as a dove, descends upon Him. All three—God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit—are all three represented in the passage. What a great Trinitarian passage for us to use to deny those who say the Trinity is not real.
Listen, if Jesus Christ as a man was obedient to the Father to be baptized, why haven’t you? I mean, give the Lord one good reason why you haven’t followed through with baptism. This is the passage that did it for me. And I just want to say a couple of things about baptism. First of all, it has to be immersion. You can’t be sprinkled, you can’t be poured over, because the word begs the idea of immersion. It means to dip under the water.
The second thing is it’s commanded. Acts 2, “What must we do to be saved?” Repent and then what? Be baptized. And we know baptism doesn’t save anyone. Someone asked me after the first service, “If I’m not baptized, can I still go to Heaven?” What’s the answer? Yes Baptism is a work; works don’t save you. But it’s a step of obedience. Baptism says to the world that God has worked in my life. It’s the first step of obedience.
And the third thing, baptism is a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, Romans 6: “Don’t you know we were all buried and baptized into Christ’s death?” And so if salvation hinges on the death, the burial and the resurrection of Christ, then why wouldn’t you be baptized as a visual illustration of the working of God in your life? You know, the baptism is a beautiful picture of the working of the Holy Spirit, because Jesus is submerged in the water. And just like we’re submerged under the water, and the water envelops us, the Spirit of God when we’re believers consumes our life and envelops us and submerses us and immerses us in His presence.
The Father authenticated Jesus as the Messiah; Isaiah authenticated Jesus as the Messiah; Malachi authenticated Jesus as the Messiah; John the Baptist authenticated Jesus as the Messiah; but don’t miss this: Even the devil, the enemy, authenticated Jesus as the Messiah. Did you catch it? It says after Jesus was baptized immediately the Spirit thrust Him into the wilderness. Forty times in the book of Mark that word “immediately” is used. And many commentators believe Mark is the action gospel. It’s one event to the other. Immediately He’s thrust into the wilderness.
Now, here’s the hot question—I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it because I don’t have a lot of time—here’s the hot question about this: During the temptation could Jesus have sinned? That’s the question. And I don’t have a lot of time, but let me just say this. I think by study and insight from commentators Jesus as a man could have sinned. And here’s why. If Jesus didn’t have the ability to sin or the opportunity to sin, then the whole wilderness account was a play. It was a puppet show, right? It was just acting. Jesus was acting like He was tempted, but He really wasn’t.
What’s interesting is Jesus is showing us that He as a man had the free agency ability to either choose God’s will or not. Isn’t that just like us as human beings? We have, even though we’re born-again believers, we have a choice to choose God or choose self or the enemy. Listen to what D. A. Carson says, “The temptation of Jesus establishes the free, sovereign agency of Jesus, who, like all human beings, must choose to make God’s will his or her own will. The significance of that choice can be realized only in the context of an alternate opposite choice.” Meaning if Jesus didn’t have a choice, then it shows us we couldn’t relate to Him as God; that we don’t have a choice.
Friends, listen. We are tempted and tried just like Christ and we have a choice every day. Do we serve self and sin and the enemy, or do we serve God? Now, we know Jesus didn’t sin, and we know He followed God through that. But what’s amazing is we can relate to God. And it reminds us of the significance of the event. Don’t focus on the fact that Jesus could sin or couldn’t sin, what’s really more important is the number 40. See, that number 40 is significant because 40 is symbolic of the Old Testament. How long did Israel wander in the wilderness? 40 years. How long did Moses spend on Mt. Sinai when they were waiting for the law? 40 days and 40 nights. How long did Elijah spend seeking the Lord on the way to Mt. Horeb? 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness. All the stories are in the wilderness which shows us that the wilderness is a sign and a place of testing.
Now, here’s the point. Mark spends just a few verses on this; Luke and Matthew spend a lot of time; and I think this is the point of Mark. Mark is teaching us one simple lesson and here it is: There are two sides to testing. The testing in this experience revealed the identity of Christ, but it also exposed the identity of Satan. You see, Satan’s actions toward Jesus exposed His belief of Jesus. Now, here’s the point. Your action towards Jesus reveals your belief about Jesus. See, what you do with Christ reveals who you are and what you believe of Christ.
Do you authenticate the gospel in your life? Do you go through the day and authenticate by action that you’re a born-again believer of Christ? If someone was putting together a case to prosecute you, would they be able to gather enough evidence in your life by your action that you’re a true believer of the Lord Jesus Christ? Because if they can’t, ask yourself the question, “Am I authenticating the gospel?” You know, I think you would say to me, “Pastor, I want to be a disciple of Christ.” How many people would say that here? “I want to be a disciple of Christ.” Raise your hand, most of us if not all of us. And we go right to Matthew 28:18-20: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth; go therefore and make [what?] disciples.” That’s the command. But guess what the participial phrase is to describe disciples? Go therefore and make disciples, what’s the next word? Baptizing! The first step of obedience for a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ is baptism.