This evening I am beginning a series that will last for the month of December. We will take a look at the Christmas story from the perspective of each of the four gospel writers and hopefully see some truths that we have not discovered before. We will follow along a path that aligns itself with the tradition of Advent and will attempt to keep on the same track of the theme for each Sunday of the Advent season. I will also be presenting this same information in our Sunday School time at church for the month and I certainly would appreciate your prayers that God will get all of the honor and glory for anything that is accomplished.
This post will be the first in the series and we are going to start in the gospel of Mark. But before we begin I would like to share something from my pastor Mark Mayfield’s message last Sunday morning which he entitled “Christmas Hidden In A Curse”. He used Genesis 3:15 as his text to point out that Christmas really began in eternity passed. Even before God spoke this world into existence, before He created Adam, and before Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden the plan for man’s reconciliation was in the mind of God. In other words, the seed of Mary which was spoken of in Genesis and who we know is Jesus Himself, would come as God Incarnate to seek and save that which was/is lost. God made a promise and He always keeps His promise.
So, with all of that said let’s take a look at Mark’s gospel and specifically at chapter 1, verses 1-8. What is really interesting about the Gospel of Mark is that it does not include a narrative about the birth of Jesus. However, the story of preparing for the event is there. Mark begins his gospel writing at full throttle. He immediately reflects on the writings of the prophets Isaiah and Malachi declaring that there would be a messenger or forerunner of the Messiah proclaiming that Jesus was on His way. While quoting these two prophets he uses two different words for prepare which have somewhat different meanings. The first word for prepare Mark uses has a basic meaning of making oneself ready to be a vessel through which God’s love can enter into human history. The second word for prepare means get ready for a big event that is about to occur. John the Baptist was preaching those very same preparations.
By preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins he was saying prepare yourselves to be usable vessels. As he was preaching that One was coming that was mightier than him, he was saying that they are to get ready for that event.
There is no better way to begin the Christmas season than being reminded that God keeps His promises. Is it any wonder that on the first Sunday of Advent the purple Prophecy Candle is lit and it is considered the Candle of Hope? It represents the prophets and the hope they foretold about. And His name is Jesus.
We tend to begin the season with way too much on our minds and our to-do list.Mark reminds us that we need to stop in the midst of our busy lives and prepare ourselves to be the instruments God wants to use to share the good news of the gospel. God’s plan for the reconciliation of man to Himself has always been in the mind of God and there is nothing that can prevent it from being completed.
Maybe we should eliminate some of the unnecessary activities during this time and focus on what is really important to our spiritual growth and relationship with Him. Maybe we should try new ways to be a more useful servant for His glory. Maybe we should put our total trust in His Word because we understand that He never fails to do what He said He would do.
Next week we will consider the Christmas story from Matthew’s perspective. Our text will be Matthew 1:1-2:18.