Jesus is one of the most influential figures in history. The Gospel of Mark is his story. But his story has to be understood as part of a much bigger story – the story of God and humanity that is told through the rest of the Bible. Here’s a summary of what’s happened in the Bible so far..
God made the world
God made the world and continues to sustain it. He made the world to reflect his power and goodness and to be a place of life and peace. Humanity was to enjoy and rule God’s world and live in thankfulness, obedience, and trust in God.
Evil enters the world
But evil entered the world. The first humans rejected God’s loving rule over them and arrogantly asserted their independence from him, opening the door for evil. Evil infects every part of God’s world and leads to death and conflict. Every human since has bought into evil by seeking independence from God and is at the same time enslaved to evil.
God doesn’t abandon his world
God did not abandon his world, but began a renewal movement by choosing a people for himself: the ancient nation of Israel. God rescued Israel from enslavement to other gods in Egypt and blessed them with a land, law, and leaders. They were commissioned to show God to other nations by thanking, obeying, and trusting God together. Israel at its best was pictured as an ideal ‘kingdom’ with God as the caring ruler over the people, their land, and their law. Yet Israel repeatedly bought into evil – even through God’s consistent judgement and reform efforts, meaning that their privileged position actually made things worse and God was dishonoured in the world. God promised a ‘Coming One’(a ‘Messiah’ or ‘Christ’) – a special king – who would perfectly represent Israel to God and the world, bear Israel’s guilt as their representative, vindicate God, and establish a lasting ‘kingdom’ where God’s people would once again enjoy and rule the world in thankfulness, obedience, and trust in God.
And so the world waited...
For four hundred years after the last promise of the Coming One, Israel and the world waited for restoration. Various world powers controlled the tiny land of Israel – Babylon, Persia, Greece, and finally Rome. And then we get the stunning opening line of Mark’s Gospel: "The beginning of the good news about Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God..."