Mark's gospel account is shorter than the others. He spent no time on preliminaries, he gets to the point and he gets there quickly. Note verse one. "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."
He is determined to leave no room for mistake concerning the person of his Master, he at once accords to Him His full title, "Jesus Christ, Son of God."
Mark then introduces John the Baptist whose ministry was to prepare the world for the coming of Christ. The world then was not so different than the world remains today. It was mostly made up of religious and non-religious people, neither of which had the Lord.
The heathen of the day liked their sin and didn't want Christ. The religious of the day didn't think they needed Christ. So, when Christ came, He was rejected by Jews and Gentiles alike. They weren't ready for Christmas. The question today is this, "Are we ready for Christmas?" I am not asking whether you have completed your shopping or even whether you have started! The question before us is simply this, as Christ comes to us, will we receive Him or reject Him?
The four Gospel books were written-to give the world the "Good News" of Christ. That is why John the Baptist preached the "Good News" of Christ's coming. The Gospel prepares us for Christmas.
I. The Origin Of The Gospel (v.1)
A. The Gospel came from heaven.
1. It was not man's thought but God's.
2. To destroy the works of the devil, and devise means that God's banished ones should be restored to Him, was far beyond the conception of any but the Creator.
3. The mode of carrying out this plan was equally of God.
4. The Creator became a creature - God came to us in human flesh.
(John 1:14) "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
B. The Gospel is not man-made religion.
1. It just isn't something that someone came up with a long time ago.
2. It is the response of a loving Creator who has chosen to redeem His creation back to Himself through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Are we ready for Christmas?
4. The Gospel prepares us for Christmas.
II. The Preparation For The Gospel (v.2)
A. This preparation for the Gospel on earth began in the first promise to Adam and Eve.
1. When it seemed that they had lost everything because of the deceitfulness of sin.
2. God came to them with the promise of a seed…One who would crush the enemy.
3. From that point their worship was directed toward God in anticipation of the fulfillment of that promise.
B. The sacrificial offerings, the bleeding lambs.
1. Each time an offering was made, the death was a picture of the One who would die for them.
2. Each time the blood was sprinkled it was a picture of the blood of the Lamb of God which would take away their sins.
3. It began with the blood that was shed by God to cover their nakedness, and would continue until the day Christ died on Calvary.
C. It was predicted by the prophets, and now it had come to pass.
1. The message of the Gospel has been proclaimed throughout history.
(Isa 7:14) "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."
(Micah 5:2) "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
2. Everything about His birth, life, death, and resurrection was prophesied for us by the Old Testament prophets.
3. Nothing was left to chance or circumstance…it was all in the plan and purpose of God.
4. The goal…to secure the salvation for all of mankind.
5. Are you ready for Christmas? Have you believed the gospel message?
III. The Forerunner Of The Gospel (v.2-8)
(Isa 40:3) "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God."
A. His Mission Was Foretold (v.2)
1. The one who was to proclaim the coming of Jesus, had himself been heralded long before.
2. The appearance of one answering to the prophetic announcements was to be the sign that a Greater than he was at hand.
(Mal 3:1) "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts."
B. His Preaching Was Appropriate (v.3)
1. John the Baptist's message was straightforward and unmistakable.
2. John stood boldly forth as a preacher of righteousness, in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation.
3. In his cry, "Repent ye," he called his listeners to personal action.
C. His Ministry Was A Success (v.4-5)
1. Never before had the souls of the people been so stirred.
2. And of those were several of the apostles.
3. These men, empowered by the Holy Spirit, turned the world upside down for Christ.
D. His Appearance Was Befitting (v.6)
1. The personal appearance of John was in perfect harmony with the truths he proclaimed.
2. He was different from the religious crowd of the day.
3. He wore no flowing robes or golden adornments.
4. His appearance, like his message, was straightforward and simple enough for all to understand.
5. The gospel message has been obscured by so-called religious leaders down through history.
6. But it is so simple that a child could understand and receive it into their lives.
(Rom 10:13) "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
(John 3:36) "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
D. He Was True To His Calling. (v.7-8)
1. He was popular enough that he could have easily become the founder of a new religious sect.
2. John was the son of Zacharias, a respected priest of Judah.
3. But John never wavered in his testimony, and never dreamed of securing for himself any honor.
4. He maintained that he was only the messenger of the Messiah.
5. He did not think himself worthy to loose the shoes of the Lamb of God!
6. One who would baptize not merely in the waters of Jordan, but in the fire of the Life-giving Spirit.
7. John wanted people to be ready to accept Christ at His coming to earth.
The month of December has arrived, and this is the time of year that we remember and celebrate the birth of the Savior. Are we ready? The Gospel prepares us for Christmas.
John the Baptist urged people to get ready for the Messiah. Thank God for His mercy in the gospel. Without it there would be no plan for our salvation; there would be no possibility of our redemption.
John prepared the people of his day for the coming of Christ, by what he said and what he did. Are you ready for Christmas? Its coming whether we like it or not-whether we are ready or not.
Jesus came to this earth to become our Savior and Lord. Have we accepted Him? Each time we consider His first coming, we are reminded that the Bible teaches us that Jesus is coming again! But the next time He comes He will come in judgment. Are you ready for Christ to come?
(Rev 22:12) "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be."