Who Is Jesus Anyway?
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The Gospel of Mark starts with a bang and quickly rolls out Jesus’ earthly ministry. It is probably the most dynamic of the four gospels with its rapid story line and succinct, dense narrative. If you want a quick snapshot of Jesus’ life, Mark is a great place to start.
As can be expected with so much packed into this short gospel, there is much to be learned from just the first chapter. While the world may think of Jesus as just a good man, four important things we learn in the first chapter is that Jesus is God, Jesus has both power and the Father’s blessing, Jesus is victorious over evil, and Jesus changes lives.
1. Jesus is God who was promised to save his people.
The New Testament did not drop out of heaven as an isolated document—in fact, quite the opposite is the case. The Jewish people had been expecting a messiah based on God’s revelation in the Old Testament Scriptures. Mark tells us at the very beginning of his gospel that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and his coming was an answer to prophecy.
Mark quotes from the Old Testament book of Isaiah where we are told that there will be a messenger announcing the coming of the Lord. Next, Mark points to John the Baptist as the messenger who prepared the way for the coming of Jesus as the fulfillment of that promise. Mark is telling us that Jesus is the Lord. God promised that he himself would save his people, and he fulfills this promise in the person of Jesus.
2. Jesus was chosen and comes with power for his people.
John was a great prophet and many people came to him, but he directed people to look for the one he was announcing. This coming one would be so great that John would not be worthy to do even the most menial task for him (Mark 1:7). This coming one would come with the power of the Holy Spirit, which he would pour out on his followers (Mark 1:8).
Not only did John testify about the uniqueness and power of Jesus, but God the Father spoke from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11), and Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:10). Jesus was no ordinary man. He came with the blessing of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
3. Jesus is a victorious warrior.
Jesus faced Satan, the ruler of this world, in the wilderness (Mark 1:12-13; see also Matt. 4:1-11) and having defeated him went on to declare, “the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Satan wanted Jesus to bow down to him just like Adam had done in the garden when he listened to Satan rather than God. Yet, Jesus resisted Satan and then went on to cast out the devil’s servants (Mark 1:21-28). Jesus accomplished what Adam should have done.
After announcing the coming of the kingdom of God, Jesus began to gather kingdom servants (the disciples) and showed the power of the kingdom of God by casting out demons and healing the sick and diseased. Jesus began to heal the effects of the pain and suffering that the sin of Adam had brought into the world when he followed Satan instead of God.
This kingdom of God that Jesus announced is full of life and healing, and Jesus rapidly began to spread the good news. Jesus not only defeated Satan in the wilderness, he also took over the wilderness as a place to teach the gospel there as people gathered to hear Jesus speak the words of life and experience healing from him (Mark 1:45).
4. Jesus changes lives.
When Jesus began his ministry, he changed the lives of those who came in contact with him. His disciples left their work to follow him, people with demons were healed, and those who were sick were made well. Yet, Jesus’ work wasn’t just the external change of healing.
The external works of Jesus pointed to internal healing and the final restoration of creation at the end of time when there will be no sickness in the new heavens and new earth. Jesus was preaching the gospel, that those who believed and trusted in him for their salvation would have eternal life. Jesus healed people from their sin, giving them a new heart filled with love for him.
The promise of the gospel is still active for those who trust Jesus today. While many people may say that Jesus was a good and wise man, he is much more than that. He is God come in the flesh to save his rebellious image-bearers. He has power from the Holy Spirit and was approved for this task by God the Father, and he is a warrior who has conquered Satan and sin for his people, securing salvation for those who believe in him. The kingdom of God is a place free from sickness and full of the love of Jesus the Savior. If you haven’t yet, read Mark’s gospel and discover more wonderful things about our glorious Savior, Jesus.
Ayrian Yasar is associate editor of Beautiful Christian Life.
Core Christianity: Finding Yourself in God's Story by Michael Horton