Beginning of the Good News

The gospel of Mark opens with a declaration based on the Hebrew Bible that provides scriptural links to the ministry of John the Baptist. And it sets the stage for the messianic mission of Jesus. In this way, Mark begins on a note of fulfillment. The Nazarene is the promised Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world.

Implicit the opening declaration is that the long-awaited “season of fulfillment” has commenced, first with John, and especially in the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth – (Hebrews 1:1, Revelation 1:1-3).

The term “BEGINNING” is the first word in the passage, and its position in the Greek sentence makes it emphatic. The sudden appearance of John near the Jordan River marked the start of the “good news” about the kingdom of God.


  • (Mark 1:1-3) - “BEGINNING of the gospel of Jesus Christ. According as it is written in Isaiah the prophet, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way. A voice of one crying aloud, in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, straight be making his paths.”

Other New Testament passages also link the “beginning” of the gospel to the Baptist. He is the one who “prepares” the way for the messianic king. And the term “beginning” is a deliberate echo of the creation story in Genesis:

  • (Genesis 1:1) - “In BEGINNING, God created the heavens and the earth.”
  • (John 1:1-3) – “In BEGINNING was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.
  • (Acts 1:21-22) – “It is needful then that of the men who accompanied us during all the time in which the Lord Jesus came in and went out over us, BEGINNING from the baptism by John until the day when he was taken up from us” (See also, Acts 10:36).

Thus, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus inaugurated the promised New Creation and began the redemption of humanity.

And his arrival along the banks of the Jordan carried universal implications far beyond the hopes of the Jewish nation. And so, for all humanity, his presence and message constitute “good news” – (Romans 8:20-23, Revelation 3:14).


The Greek term rendered “gospel” or euangelion in Mark means “good news, GLAD TIDINGS.” It is a combination of the Greek prefix eu (“good”) and the noun angelion  or “message.” English words derived from it include “angel” and “evangelist.”

In the New Testament, usages of euangelion are often based on key prophecies in the book of Isaiah. For example, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings GOOD TIDINGS, that publishes peace, that brings GOOD TIDINGS of blessing, that publishes salvation, that says to Zion, your God has become king” - (Isaiah 52:7. See also Isaiah 61:1-3).

And the “good news of Jesus” concerns the arrival of the long-promised salvation and reign of God. The genitive construction can mean either that Jesus is the content or the herald of the good news, or both.

The term “Christ” is not his last name but the designation of what he is, the “anointed one,” the Messiah of Israel.  But to his neighbors, he is “Jesus, the son of Joseph,” or simply “Jesus of Nazareth.”


In the Hebrew Bible, two categories of men are “anointed,” priests and kings. The anointing is performed by pouring olive oil on the head of the designated man, thus setting him apart for a specific office or task - (Leviticus 21:10-12, Psalm 89:20).

Jesus” is the anglicized spelling of the Hebrew name Yeshua or Yehoshua. It means “Yahweh saves,” or perhaps “salvation of Yahweh.”

Among first-century Jews, the term “Son of God” had messianic and royal connotations. It was part of the promise of kingship made to David, a royal legacy the Messiah was expected to inherit - (2 Samuel 7:14, Psalm 2:6-9, Hebrews 1:5-14).

The reference to a passage “as written in Isaiah” refers to a composite of verses from the books of ExodusIsaiah, and Malachi, although the bulk is from Isaiah:

  • (Exodus 23:20) – “Behold, I SEND A MESSENGER BEFORE YOU, to keep you by the way, and to bring you to the place which I have prepared.”
  • (Isaiah 40:3) – “The VOICE OF ONE THAT CRIES, PREPARE IN THE WILDERNESS THE WAY OF YAHWEH; make level in the desert a highway for our God.”
  • (Malachi 3:1) “Behold, I SEND MY MESSENGER, AND HE WILL PREPARE THE WAY BEFORE ME: and the Lord, whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, behold, he comes, says Yahweh of hosts.”

The first quotation from Exodus is appropriate. It was a promise to keep Israel safe in the “wilderness” and lead her to the Promised Land. Hence, Jesus is the true Israel who is poised to traverse the “wilderness” and lead God’s people to the kingdom.

Mark has threaded other themes from the history of Israel into his account. But the ministry of the Messiah is far more than a replay of that ancient story, or simply an attempt by Jesus to succeed where Israel failed, though he certainly does do so.

In his life, the plan of Yahweh to redeem humanity and the creation itself from bondage to sin and death began to unfold. The messianic mission of Jesus of Nazareth is far larger than the nation of Israel and encompasses land that extends well beyond the borders of Canaan.


Suffering Servant

Revolt Against the Son