Jesus Preaches the Gospel

After John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’ ”

- Mark 1:14-15

Mark begins his narrative of the life of Jesus by telling us that his book is focused on “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1). Yet that opening verse does not explain the actual content of the gospel beyond noting the fact that Jesus is God’s Son. Today’s passage starts to unfold the gospel—the good news—in more detail, focusing more on Jesus Himself than on the words that He spoke.

To be sure, Mark summarizes what Jesus preached after His baptism (v. 15). Before doing that, however, the evangelist defines our Lord’s proclamation as “the gospel of God.” Here, the emphasis is not so much on the gospel as good news about God, though certainly the gospel does reveal to us various truths about our Creator. Instead, Mark’s focus is on the gospel as a message from God. It is His message, finding its origin in His salvific purposes and given first to Christ and then to His church as something to be guarded, proclaimed, and passed on unchanged from generation to generation. This is the same sense in which the Apostle Paul speaks of the good news of salvation as being “the gospel of God” in Romans 1:1. As we will see, this gospel from God concerns the person and work of Christ, but as the Father and Son are always perfectly united in every one of God’s works, the gospel is not only about the Son. It is also from the Son as much as it is from the Father. It finds its origin in eternity past when the three persons of the Trinity purposed to glorify themselves by saving a people for themselves (John 3:16; 6:37–40).

We have noted that Mark focuses more on Jesus Himself than on the content of His teaching. Consider Mark 1:15, which features only the briefest summary of Jesus’ preaching. But Mark’s gospel as a whole also records fewer of our Lord’s parables and other teachings than the works of the other three evangelists. Mark means to point out that in an important sense, who Jesus is and what He does is of supreme importance. The gospel is Jesus Christ—specifically, His person and work. Matthew, Luke, and John agree, for even in the teaching they record, the emphasis is on Christ Himself as the foundation for eternal life and the only way to a right relationship with the Father (for example, Matt. 7:24–27; Luke 24:27; John 14:6). This Jesus came at just the right moment, when the times and seasons of the Father had been fulfilled and His people were well prepared for the Messiah’s coming (Mark 1:14–15).

Coram Deo

The gospel is not a message that “you can have your best life now”; that “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life”; or that you must “ask Jesus into your heart.” Some of these statements may be true if qualified properly, but none of them is the gospel. The gospel is Jesus Christ—who He is and what He has done. If we are not preaching that, we are not preaching the gospel.

Passages for Further Study

Isaiah 53
Mark 8:31
1 Timothy 3:16
Hebrews 9:11–28

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