Gospel: Mark 1:1-8
Epistle: 2 Peter 3:8-14
Lesson: Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm: Psalm 85
CLB Pastors Network – Dr. Eugene Boe
This text for the second Sunday of advent launches forth with its first word as “beginning”. This “beginning”, the Gospel of Mark presents as “the gospel of and about Jesus Christ God’s Son.” The “Gospel” means good news, and this word is used in Jesus’ first presentation of his preaching (Mark 1:14). Mark uses a heading that tells us that Jesus Himself, His person and deeds, is the Gospel’s content. So he gets right the heart of the book saying, “Beginning the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God.” This Gospel named Jesus (which means “God’s salvation”) Christ is further identified to be God’s Son (see also 1:11; 9:7), revealing His one of a kind relationship with God His Father.
The “as” in verse 2 links the Gospel to be unfolded with the prophecy of Isaiah (40:3), which also gathers up quotations from Exodus 23:20 and Malachi 3:1. This signals that the Gospel is a fulfillment of God’s promised salvation. What the people have needed is now on the way. God has sent a voice to get all ready for the coming of this Jesus Gospel, who is “the Lord”, “His way”, “His paths.” The focus is on the one who is coming.
People were readied for the Coming One through the preaching of a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This preaching produced a confessing of sins. Where there is repentance there is the confessing of sins. This preaching included the acting of God through baptism which effected the sending away of sins. People today are readied for the coming of Jesus through the preaching of repentance. This Coming One is for sinners.
Sermon Studies on the Gospels – Series B
“As the forerunner of the Messiah, John’s mission was to prepare the hearts of the people through a call to repentance and a baptism for the forgiveness of sins. There is ample reason for us to understand the Greek word ‘metanoias’ in its wider sense. True repentance involves godly sorrow over sin and trust in God’s promise of forgiveness. True repentance was John’s message, and it is a timely message for the Advent season. As God’s people make outward preparations to celebrate Christmas, they also need to prepare their hearts. Godly sorrow over sin and trust in God’s forgiveness are proper Advent preparations for God’s people.
Some Bible students maintain that the baptisms performed by John were different from and inferior to the baptism later commanded by Christ. A close look at this verse quickly settles the matter for us. Here Mark writes that John’s baptism was eis apesin amartion. The Greek preposition eis with the accusative expresses purpose. Since John’s baptism was ‘for the remission of sins,’ it did indeed mediate the forgiveness which Christ accomplished on the cross. Although the preacher may not dwell on this point in his sermon, it is good to point out that John not only denounced sin; he also announced the forgiveness of sins. The Baptist’s message of repentance was one of sin and grace, law and gospel.”
Wendland, E.H., Sermon Studies on the Gospels – Series B. Milwaukee, WI: Northwestern Publishing House, 1984.
Interpretation of Saint Mark’s Gospel
“The wilderness and its obstructions are in the hearts of the people; there the Lord’s way is to be prepared. In Isa 40:3,4 mountains and hills are to be leveled, etc. To make a way through them is a task that is utterly beyond human power. That is exactly the impression intended.
Strictly speaking, only the Lord himself bestows. That is why the Baptist cried, ‘Repent!’ Impenitence raises the mountains of obstruction; repentance opens the way for the Lord. True repentance is wrought by the Lord’s own law and gospel, in which his power and his grace are active. ‘Make ready the way of the Lord!’ Luther writes: ‘Such preparation is spiritual; it consists in the deep conviction and confession that you are unfit, a sinner, poor, damned and miserable with all the works you are able to do. Where this conviction is wrought the heart will be open for the Lord’s entrance with his forgiveness and gifts.”
Lenski, C.H., Interpretation of Saint Mark’s Gospel. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, 1943.