Mark introduces his narrative by saying, “The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the son of God” (Mark 1:1). The word translated Gospel simply means “good news”. So, when we read about the Gospel of Christ, it means that we are literally reading “the good news about Jesus.” Mark promptly tells us about the nature of this gospel: “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 his paths straight’” (Mark 1:2-3). By citing this prophecy, Mark indicates this “gospel” is not something unexpected; on the contrary, it has been in the works centuries ago. This prophecy is found in Isaiah 40:3-5. While this prophecy is dense with significance, in short, Isaiah is speaking about Israel’s return from exile and reunification with God. When we read the good news about Jesus, we should have in mind the background Mark gives us: God is redeeming His people.
In Israel, God’s chosen people, we see God’s intention to work through the patriarch Abraham to reconcile all nations to Him (see Genesis 12:1-3). This raises the question: why did God want to bless the nations? Why did God need Abraham? To answer the first, we read in Genesis 1, 2 that God made everything in the world (e.g., plants, animals, humans) and that He made it good. However, in Genesis 3, we read that Adam and Eve chose to disobey and through their choice sin entered the world. As we read on in Genesis, we find that all people are as sinful as Adam and Eve. In Romans 5:12, Paul summarizes this: “Therefore, just as by one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” It is from this rampant wickedness that we see what God had in mind by using the family of Abraham to bless the nations. God knew it was “not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). Simply put we are lost in sin without a way out on our own; God’s intervention was necessary. Paul reflects on this promise given to Abraham, in Galatians 3:16, pointing to a single descendant “…which is Christ”. Jesus would be exactly the pinnacle of God’s program of redemption inaugurated through Abraham.
Mark stated that he would tell the “Good News” about Jesus and that Jesus is the culmination of God’s mission to redeem the world from sin. We are left to ask: how will God bring this about? Mark records that Jesus said He “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). In this, we see that God would redeem the world not by coming to the world and ruling physically, but that He would redeem the world by giving the life of His Son. Paul summarizes this concept as well: “the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,” (I Cor. 15:1-4). This is the good news about Jesus: God sent His Son into the world to die as a ransom for us, to be buried, and to be resurrected from the dead.