Text: Mark 1:1-15
Title: I am prepared
Background: Here in the beginning of the Gospel of Mark we have the announcement of Jesus prophesied by Isaiah saying “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”— “a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.” Jesus was announced by none other than John the Baptizer, a man who new his purpose as the forerunner of Christ. His job was to proclaim what Jesus was going to do and also become apart of Jesus’ preparation process for his ministry.
I. God’s prepares you by using others to pave a way for you v. 1-8
John was baptizing in the wilderness and preaching the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people would come out from Judea and Jerusalem confessing their sins and being baptized in the Jordan River. God is reminding me through this text if I am going to preach anything, preach repentance so people can turn away from sin and be saved! John the Baptizer was an obscure character. The text tells us that he wore funny clothes. He had a camel hair coat and leather belt which was not fashionable for the time. He had weird diet. He ate locust dipped in honey which was not the cuisine of these 1st century Jews. But despite how he looked and what he ate, God handpicked him for service. Don’t think you have to a certain look to be use of God. Man looks at the outward but God looks at the heart. John the Baptizer had a message that he constantly resounded, “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. This was message of humility. Even though John the Baptizer was doing a great work for the Lord, He knew he was not the man. He knew it was not about him but about the one he was talking about. He models what Phil 2:3 tells us, “to esteem others higher than your self”. Our problem is that we think that we can not get replaced. We think if we are not involved in the process, the show won’t go on. If you think that is the case, die and see what will happen. John knew his place and his purpose which was to prepare Jesus. Many of us are in position just to prepare the one God has selected to take your place and who will do more than you. We get jealous when we hear that because we are so egoistically. We think that we will be forgotten about. But don’t you know that God gave you the shoulders for others to stand on. You are vital part of someone else’s success and you should celebrate that God chose you and not be so insecure.
But this also tells those of us who are coming up from the ranks that God uses others who are less qualified, less educated, unpopular but have a heart for the Lord, to help us get where we need to be in life. If you look back over your life you can remember those unsung heroes who kept you on the straight and narrow. They gave you wisdom not from a book but from experience and the Holy Ghost. You probably exceeded them in life but if it was not for them you could have went in the wrong direction. These people helped pave your way so you can have smooth path. That is why we can not ever forget the “John the Baptist’s” in our lives! God paved a way for you using other people.
II. God’s preparation requires penitence v. 9-11
God has paved away for you however, in your preparation process you need to do some honest evaluation and admit that no matter how good you think you are, you are unworthy for the assignment and need some help. Because God is holy God, he desires you to be holy and turn away for a lifestyle of sin. You can not have a lifestyle of sin and serve God in an effective way. It will catch up to you. In verse 9, here we have Jesus our Lord and Savoir coming to be baptized in the Jordan River. Sinless and perfect in nature yet he has come to baptized. Baptism goes back to the O.T. tradition for the conversion of Gentiles to Judaism. Gentiles would have to confess their sinful nature in order to accept the Lord as their God. Jesus was baptized to identify with our humanity and sin. It was a sign of submission and support of John’s ministry. But most importantly as an example that believers should follow. Now when we are baptized after we confess our sinful nature and a need of a Savior, we identify with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. We go down one way and come up another way. It is an outward sign of an inward change. But here is a problem. Many of us were baptized but there is no evidence of an inward change. This is why we have to teach our young people what it means to be baptized. You don’t do it because Grandma said. You do it because your heart has changed. This is why there are so many people in church who are not changed. They only had an outward baptism without an inward change.
It is also significant to note where Jesus was baptized. He was baptized in the Jordan. It was a river of importance to the Jews. The Jordan River was between the wilderness and the promise land. It was the place of liberation. It was the place the exodus. Baptism is a symbolic of our exodus and liberation into a new life in Christ. It is here at the Jordan at Jesus’ baptism that we see the fullness of the Godhead. God the Son comes up from the water and heaven is torn open showing us the barrier has been broken between us and God. We see God the father, who bellows from heaven “you are my Son whom I am well pleased”. Then we see God the Holy Spirit descends like a dove upon Jesus as a seal of approval. Jesus, the perfect man, didn’t need baptism for sin, but he accepted baptism in obedient service to the Father, and God showed his approval. We need this same attitude of humility, submission to God and dedication to servanthood. And if we do that we will get God’s seal the Holy Ghost as approval, and say “this is my child whom I am well pleased!”
III. God’s placement v. 12-13
Now with every preparation process, their always training involved. And your training is never a cake walk. God will place you in an environment that you think it is going to break you but it is only to mold you. It is to build your character. That is why you can’t curse your wilderness. Look at the text, it says “immediately or at once”, the Spirit drove him into the wilderness. The Spirit placed Jesus in the wilderness. The same Spirit who blessed Him is the same Spirit the made Him go into a tough situation. The wilderness in Palestine was a desert where nothing is growing. Things are drying up and dying around you. Some of us right now are in a wilderness. Ain’t nothing growing and your necessities are drying up. Your money is drying up. Your love is drying up. Your peace is drying up. But what it is hard to stomach is the fact that the Lord placed you there. The text also says that Jesus was there in the wilderness for 40 days. The number 40 has biblical significance. It was 40 days that it rained on earth in the time of Noah. It was 40 days that Moses spent on the mount. It was 40 days that the spies spent surveying the promise land. It was 40 days that Elijah was on Mount Horeb. The number 40 is the number of trials, tribulation and probation. Jesus is now place in the wilderness for training in tribulation. Not only is He in the wilderness but he was not alone. He was their tempted by Satan. Not only was tempted by the enemy, He was among wild animals. Let’s look at this closely. First of all, we see Jesus was tempted. Temptation in and of itself is not sin. It is only sin when we give in to it. We know from the other gospel accounts that Jesus was tempted by Satan in three areas: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride life. Look how He handled temptation:
· It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.
· It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.
· it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve
Jesus was tempted in same ways we are tempted but he didn’t sin. This tells us that when ever we are tempted in our wilderness experience, you must respond back to the enemy with the Word of God.
Not only Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by Satan but also He was with wild animals that could have been a threat to his life. Mark writes this to stress the character of the wilderness. My brothers and sisters, not only will you have to deal with the devil but you will have to deal with those untamed predators that surround you. You may have to deal with the devil and mean people. But don’t fret. The text says that angels came and ministered to him. Beloved, you can be confident that when you are in a stressful situation, God will be faithful to his promise that He will never leave or forsaken you. He will send angels to meet your needs. Somebody here can testify that when they thought they would never get any help, all of sudden out of nowhere, help was on the way. You got angels watching over you!
Mark does not give the details of what happened to Jesus in the wilderness as in the other gospels but by examining the text, there is an immediate shift of scenery. The next thing we know from Mark is in verse 14, “After John was put in prison Jesus went into Galilee proclaiming the good news of God.” (It is important note here is that John went to jail for Jesus. You become dangerous when you really start to spread the good news. John got locked up for his faith. You can lock up a man but you can’t look up his faith. His faith was now about to manifested in Jesus). The text says that Jesus went to Galilee preaching the good news. In the previous verse He was in the wilderness. Next we see him out. This tells us that you will come out of you wilderness! Jesus is out the wilderness but he has something to say in verse 15, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel”. My brothers and my sisters, if you ever came out of a wilderness experience, you know you had something say. You survived all the enemy attack and you came out with some good news that the kingdom is at hand! That means Jesus is Lord! I came through because Jesus is Lord. I made it over because Jesus is Lord. You will make because Jesus is Lord!!!
Celebration: Now that you are prepared, it is time to perform your duties. You are ready! It is time to do the work of the ministry….You survived! You made it. You past the test! You came out! Now go to work. Serve the Lord with gladness. But I first have give God praise for your preparation. Praise him for paving the way. Praise him for baptism in the Spirit. Praise for you placement in the Kingdom.