1The beginning of the good news* of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.* 2As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, *‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, * who will prepare your way; 3the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.”
Notice in these opening verses of Mark’s Gospel where it is that the good news of Jesus Christ begins. Here is surely something for us to be in wonder of, and to ponder. God’s good news doesn’t begin where we might expect it to. God’s good news does not begin in the Roman Forum, the learned Academy of Athens, or even the Temple in Jerusalem. God’s good news begins in the wilderness where wild animals lurk, scorching heat destroys, and people are given up as lost.
Mark begins his account of the good news by locating it in the wilderness. Citing the great Hebrew prophet Isaiah, Mark tells of a lone voice crying out in the wilderness and announcing to the world that the King is coming. Get ready, he is saying. Prepare yourselves!
This is not the first time, nor the last, that God reveals his presence in wilderness places. Throughout the Hebrew scriptures God time and again comes to his people in the wilderness. It was at a burning bush in the wilderness that the Holy One revealed himself to Moses. It was in the wilderness that Israel marked her birth as a nation and the divine law was handed down at Sinai. The people of God had long ago come to know the wilderness as the place where they might experience God’s special presence and know his daily provision and protection. God had schooled his people through the centuries to look for him especially in the wilderness. Thus, centuries before Christ’s coming, Isaiah foretold a voice crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord.”
Perhaps this Advent season you are in a wilderness time. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, you feel you are wandering around and around in circles. Perhaps you are struggling financially, desperately trying to find a job, or watching your retirement dwindle away. Perhaps for you the holidays feel more like the “hollow days” as you are grieving the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a dream. Know that the Lord reveals himself in the wilderness. Be alert and ready to experience his presence with you. Just as the season of Advent comes to us in the darkest days of winter, so be ready for God to reveal himself in the dark times of life.
Read, Reflect, Respond, and Rest with today’s scripture text,
Mark 1:1-3, and devotional.