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Jesus: The Suffering Servant – Sermon #1


Mark 1:1-8


Intro: Matthew begins his Gospel by sharing the genealogy of Jesus. He feels the need to prove that Jesus is a Son of Abraham and a Son of David. Luke begins by talking about the events which lead up to the birth of the Lord Jesus. John’s Gospel starts out in eternity past reminding us that Jesus is God in the flesh. Mark does not start out by talking about the Lord’s heritage or His birth. Mark’s desire is to present Jesus as a servant and a servant does not need a genealogy. Mark begins by jumping right into the action.

      Mark’s first sentence serves as a title to the book and it serves to plunge us immediately into the earthly ministry of Jesus. Mark is going to share with his readers the good news concerning who Jesus is and what He did while He was here. Mark calls the Lord “Jesus Christ, the Son of God”.

      The name “Jesus” is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name “Joshua”. It means “Jehovah is Salvation”. Jesus is a human name and it reveals the reason Jesus came into this world. Jesus came into this world to save lost sinners, Matt. 1:21; Luke 19:10. The name “Jesus” declares His Person.

      He is called “Christ”. This identifies Jesus as the “Jewish Messiah”, or “the Anointed One”. The name “Christ” declares His Position. Jesus is pictured as the One Who will deliver His people from their enemies.

      Then Mark raises the stakes. He calls Jesus “the Son of God”. Mark lets us know in very clear terms that he is writing about a man, Who is no ordinary man. He is writing about a man Who is God in the flesh, John 1:1, 14. The name “Son of God” declares His Power.

      So, this title declares four important truths regarding Jesus.

1.  He is truly human – He has a human name – Jesus.

2.  He is truly divine – He is the promised Messiah. He is the Son of God.

3.  He is truly unique – He is both humanity and deity in one Person.

4.  He is the true source of Good News – Jesus alone is the source of salvation!

      We have Mark’s introduction of the book that bears his name. Let’s begin the process of moving through these verses. We will consider the beginning of the ministry of Jesus as Mark writes about the man who was sent to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today we are going to take a few moments to look at the ministry of John the Baptist.


  I.  v. 2-3                      JOHN AND HIS MANDATE

(Ill. In ancient times, kings often sent people ahead of them to prepare the way for their coming. The forerunner had two primary duties.

      First, he was to make certain that the roads were passable. There were to be no delays when the king passed through. He was to have a clear, open route through the kingdom.

      Second, the forerunner was let the people know that the king was coming. He was to go along the route before the king came through and he was to tell the people to get ready for the king.

      John the Baptist fulfilled both duties seen in the ancient forerunner. He came to this world with a divine mission. John was given a heavenly mandate, which he fulfilled while he was here. Let’s examine his mandate.

      Verses 2-3 also tell us that John was the fulfillment of two important Old Testament prophecies.

1.  Isaiah 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.”

2.  Malachi 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.”)

A.  v. 2  It Involved Preparation – John cleared the way for the coming of the Lord by appealing directly to the people. The Jewish religious leaders had long ago forgotten the common man. John came preaching to the people, calling on them to repent because the Lord, the King was coming to deliver His people.

B.  v. 3  It Involved Proclamation – John was a lone voice against the dead legalism of the Jews. He was a hard preacher in a dark day and God used him to touch a generation.


(Note: John the Baptist preached during a period when the Jewish religion had become nothing more than dead orthodoxy. Legalism and ritual ruled the day. The Jews were in desperate need of a spiritual revival. The Gentiles had given up on religion and viewed most religious beliefs as superstition and foolish tales. Both groups needed just what John preached: the Truth!

      We are living in similar day! Many churches have abandoned the great doctrines of the Bible to preach either a message rooted in humanism or legalism. People are either never challenged regarding their sins or they are beaten down with the Word of God.

      There is a great need for men of God in our day who will stand up, open their Bibles, open their mouths and preach the Word of God. Jesus is coming soon! Where are the forerunners who are preparing the way of the Lord and proclaiming His return? Preachers, our mandate is that same as the one John the Baptist received. We are to preach the Word, 2 Tim. 4:2.)


 II.  v. 4-5                     JOHN AND HIS METHODS

A.  v. 4b  John’s Preaching – John was a preacher! He came telling men of the need for repentance. His message was a message of confrontation. John came confronting sin and calling on people to repent. The word “repentance” means “a change of mind that results in a change of action.” The people had sinned and John called on them to change their minds regarding sin.

            John was calling on them to clean up their lives in preparation for the advent of Jesus! He was saying, “The Lord is coming! The Savior is coming! You need to straighten out your crooked hearts. You need to get the way into your heart prepared for the coming of the Lord.”

      John’s message was also a message of change. John told the people that their “repentance” would result in the “remission of sins”. The word “remission” means “forgiveness or pardon of sins as though they had never happened.” John told the people that their repentance would result in God’s forgiveness!


(Note: That is the message we need in our world today! Where are the preachers who are preaching about repentance and remission of sin? Most preachers are too busy stroking people’s egos and tickling their ears. They are too busy building their crowds, and their own religious empires.

      We need men of God in this day that will lift up their voices and thunder out against sin! We need men who will not allow position, prestige, prosperity or popularity stand between them and the proclamation of the truth. We need preachers who will tell people the truth! I know how hard it is to preach the truth to the people who determine what kind of house you can buy or what kind of car you can drive, but they must be told the truth!

      People need to know that the only way to Heaven is through the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. People need to know that sin kills. People need to know that there is a real Hell to shun and a real Heaven to gain. People need to know that God still looks for repentant hearts and changed lives. People need the truth!

      Not everyone wants to be lulled to sleep by the weak, anemic preaching of this day! Some people still want to hear the truth. Some people still want to be confronted by the facts of the Word. Those people want to be fed. The rest, those who do not want to hear the truth, need to be confronted! There are plenty of people out there who will not hear the truth. The Bible tells us that it will be this way in the end times, 2 Tim. 4:3-4.

       The need for a prophet of God like John the Baptist has never been greater than it is right now! Pray for the men who still carry the mail for the glory of God!)


B.  v. 4a  John’s Practice – John did something else that was unusual in his day, he baptized Jews. People in that part of the world had been practicing baptism for a long time. When a Gentile became a Jewish convert, that person would baptize themselves as a symbol of their changed life. Baptism was not new, the way John used it was.

      John did not baptize people to make them right with God. The phrase “preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” does not mean that people were being baptized to have their sins forgiven. They were being baptized because their sins had been forgiven. They went to John and were immersed into the river Jordan to declare publically that their lives had been changed by the power of God. They were baptized to give glory to the God Who had forgiven their sins and made them whole. In other words, this baptism was about a change of life!


(Note: That is still what baptism represents. People are not baptized to be saved; they are baptized because they have been saved. Baptism is a picture of a person dying to the old life of sin and rising again to a new life of holiness.

      By the way everyone who comes to Jesus and is saved by His grace will be a new creature, 2 Cor. 5:17. They will live a new kind of life. They will have new desires. They will be different. Jesus changes every life He touches!)


C.  v. 5  John’s Power – We are told that many of the people living in that region came to John the Baptist to be baptized. These people made a break with their past and were changed by the power of God. Someone has estimated that as many as 300,000 people may have been baptized by John and his disciples.

      Here’s the point, these people traveled some 20 miles on foot. When they arrived where John was, he treated them like they were Gentiles. It must have shaken them to their core! Here was this preacher telling them that they were no better than the Gentiles. When they were confronted with their sins, they saw their sins and they repented. When they did, God forgave them!

      John just preached the Word of God and God honored His Word. People responded to the preaching of the Baptist and they came to him confessing their sins and turning from their sinful lifestyles.

      Of course, not everyone was happy with John’s ministry. The Pharisees and Sadducees came to see what the fuss was all about. They came to criticize John and his message. When he saw them coming, he rebuked them for their hypocrisy and called on them to repent also, Matt. 3:7-10. They refused John’s plea and continued on in their sins.


(Note: We are living in hard times spiritually. There is a trend toward seeker friendly, feel good religion. Preachers who call sin what it is and who call for people to repent are getting fewer by the day. But, we are still operating in a time when God will bless His Word. If His Word is preached as it is written, God will honor that Word, Isa. 55:11. People still need to be told they are sinners. People still need to be confronted with the need for genuine repentance. People still need to be shaken from time to time!

      So, don’t despair if Calvary Baptist isn’t like the church down the road. Don’t worry when they call us old-fashioned and out of step. Let them make fun of our preaching, our singing, our shouting and our worship. God still meets with us and that is all that really matters! Every now and then He will pass by and bring with Him the fragrance of glory. Every now and then He will speak to some lost soul and they will come to Jesus and be saved. Every so often He will call some wayward saint of God home to Jesus. He is still working. He is still honoring His Word. Therefore, we need to stay the course and carry on for His glory until He comes!)


III.  v. 6                           JOHN AND HIS MANNER

A.  His Fashion – John did not wear the fine robes that adorned the bodies of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He did not gravitate toward the finer things in life. His clothing was a rough as his message. He was a man of the desert and he dressed like a man of the desert. He was out of step in his fashion sense.

B.  His Food – He shunned the fine foods of the palace and favored the foods of the desert dweller. He got his honey out of the rocks and lived on such things as he could trust the Lord to provide. He was a common man who did not seek after the allurements and attractions of this world. By the way, his diet was balanced. Locusts are protein and honey is carbohydrates. John was a balanced man who was satisfied with the basics of life.


(Ill. John’s manner was as unusual as his message. John the Baptist was an odd man, even in his own day. Imagine how this man must have appeared to the people who saw him. He was a Nazarite, Luke 1:15. That means that his hair and his beard had never been trimmed. Nazarites often carried their beards in sacks around their waist to avoid stepping on it. Their hair was braided into seven braids and hung down their backs, touching the ground. (Ill. How would we react if John came to preach in our church?)

      He stepped out of the wilderness dressed in the rough garments of a prophet. He came to the people of Israel with the same spirit of confrontation that dwelt in Elijah 800 years earlier. He came preaching with power! In fact, John was so unusual that he was never invited to preach in the Temple and synagogues. They had no use for a man like him! They did not want to be confronted. They did not want their little apple cart to be upset. They had it made and they did not want some weirdo to destroy the little religious empire they had constructed.

      John came with a strange appearance. He came with a strong message. He was out of step with his times, but God was with him. God used John the Baptist in an amazing way to carry out a powerful ministry.

      If John teaches us anything today, he teaches us the truth that we do not have to fit in with this world. He teaches us that it is all right to be different. We can dress different. We can talk different. We can live different. And, it does not mean that we are weird; it simply means that we have a desire to walk with the Lord and honor Him.

      It’s all right if you don’t live as the world lives. It is all right if you do not do the things the world does. It is all right if you don’t drink, cuss, do drugs or run wild. It is all right if you go to your marriage bed a virgin. It is all right if you go to church three times or more a week; pay your tithes; go to Sunday School and live like a saint. It is all right if you shout, pray and witness. It is all right to be different if Jesus has made you different! And, if He has saved your souls, He has done just that, Ill. John 3:3, 7.

      We should never allow this world to force us into its mold, Rom. 12:1-2. We should yield ourselves to the Lord, separate from this world, 2 Cor. 6:17, and allow Him to mold us into His image! Never be ashamed of who you are and never be ashamed of who you are not!)


IV.  v. 7-8                      JOHN AND HIS MESSAGE

(Ill. These verses give us the content of John’s message. He did not preach to build up his name and his reputation. John preached to point people to another. He preached to point men to Jesus. These verses tell us what John the Baptist’s message was all about.)

A.  v. 7  The Message Of A Humble Servant – John the Baptist was a bold preacher. He thundered out against sin and called for people to repent. But, when he began to talk about Jesus Christ, John became a very humble preacher. He tells the people who heard him preach that compared to Jesus, he was a nobody! He tells them that he isn’t even worthy to do the job of the lowest household slave. John says, “I am nothing, but He is everything!” John says, “I didn’t come to call people to me; I came to point people to Him!” That is a humility that is lacking in these days.

      This highlights one of the reasons people refuse to deal with their sins. People often compare themselves to the wrong standard. If you look around, you can always find someone who lives worse than you do. You can hold them up and say, “See, compared to this person, I don’t look too bad.” That may be true, but if you honestly compare your life to Jesus Christ you would see how bad you really are.

      The people were flocking to John. He had the ear of the nation. He had the people eating out of his hand. But, when John saw Jesus, John saw how needy John was! When John saw Jesus he saw that John was nothing and Jesus was everything. That is why John was willing to step aside so that Jesus might shine, John 3:30.

      That is why John magnified Jesus! He knew that if people could just see Jesus they would see themselves as they really were. If they saw themselves as they really were, they would see their need of Jesus. They would want Him to be their Savior and Lord. So, John pointed men to Jesus.

      That’s the message people need in this day! If people could ever see Jesus, whether they were saved or lost, they would have a desire to humble themselves before Him. They would willingly bow to Him in salvation, surrender and service.

B.  v. 8  The Message Of A Holy Savior – John also told them that when Jesus came He would do a spiritual work in their hearts. You see, John was using a material element, water, to baptize their bodies. Jesus would use a spiritual element, the Holy Spirit, to baptize their souls. John was taking them and placing them under the water in a symbol of their repentance. Jesus would take them and He would wash their sins away in His blood and He would give them a new life.

      John was not calling people to religion. They had enough of that. John the Baptist was pointing people to a Savior Who could save their souls, forgive their sins and change their lives. By that way, Jesus can still do those things! All those who come to Him by faith will be saved, changed and forgiven. And, it is as easy as calling on Him by faith, Acts 16:31; Rom. 10:9, 13.


Conc: The message John the Baptist preached was an unusual message. He did not preach to gain the favor of men. He did not preach to grow a great ministry. He did not preach to attract a crowd. He preached a simple message about a wonderful Savior named Jesus. He preached a simple message about the need for people to deal honestly with their sins. He preached a message that those people needed to hear and he preached a message that we need to hear as well.

      Has the Lord spoken to you through this message? Do you sense the need to come to Jesus to be saved? If so, you can. If you will come to Him and repent of your sins and call on Him by faith, He will save your soul, forgive your sins and change your life.

      Maybe you have walked away from the Lord and are not as close to Him as you once were. You can come home! God allows second chances.

      Maybe you have become self-conscious about the way you have been taught. Maybe you are hearing the siren call of the modern churches calling you away from the old paths. If you need to come and get some things settled with God, you can do that.

      Whatever the needs may be today, they can and will be met by the Lord Jesus, if you will bring them to Him!

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