“The Beginning Of The Good News Of Jesus Christ”
Mark begins his Gospel with the expression, “the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus comes to bring ‘good news’. Nay, Jesus is himself the ‘good news’.
What is this ‘good news’ which Jesus brings ? In a word, it is ‘salvation’.
Human beings have always longed for ‘something better’. Sometimes this is because of the mess we find ourselves in – war, financial recession, poverty, ecological degradation, anxiety and tension, you name it. We wish life could be better, cleaner, more prosperous, more peaceful, more loving. We want this for ourselves, or at least for our children. Most of the time what we long for are tangible things, visible signs, life in all its fullness.
Sometimes, if we reflect enough, we realize that we ourselves are the cause of the unhappiness in our lives. We’ve brought it upon ourselves by our crimes, our selfish behaviour, by what the Scriptures of every faith call ‘sin’. We long to be delivered from the stranglehold of sin. We long to be ‘saved’.
The longing for ‘salvation’ then is part of the human condition, whichever way we see it. The Bible tells us that it is Jesus who brings us salvation. Nay, his very name means, “God saves”, or “God heals”. The Gospel is the ‘good news of this salvation.
Mark introduces John the Baptist, a prophet or ‘spokesman’ for Jesus, who will announce the coming of the saviour, and prepare the people for him. “Prepare a way for the Lord, make straight his paths.” John is described in terms which recall the great Israeli prophet Elijah, who lived centuries before John. In fact Jesus associates Elijah with John, for both these prophets preached in times of persecution and hostility. God’s word always shakes us out of our complacency, and evokes resistance.
John the Baptist used the symbol of baptism, total immersion into the waters of the river Jordan. It was a public sign that someone had ‘washed off’ his past life of sin, and was beginning anew. Jesus will transform this symbol into a total immersion in God’s Holy Spirit. Those who accept Jesus and his ways will have their lives changed completely, and will live by the power of the Spirit.
The Advent, or coming of the Lord, makes us also aware of the reign of the Holy Spirit.
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