Meditations on Mark 1:1-8

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by Ed Cyzewski

Mark introduces John the Baptist through a quotation from Isaiah about preparing the way for the Lord. John was literally paving the way for the Lord’s return, something that his original audience expected to be more geared toward restoring the Jewish nation under God’s visible rule and removing the Romans. This didn't just entail a Messiah ruling as King, but also the return of God himself to the land as King.

From the outset Mark makes it clear that there were high expectations for Jesus. Would Jesus conform to the expectations of his time or reveal a different plan from God?

John prepared for the Messiah in the wilderness through repentance, confession, and baptism. In calling for repentance in the wilderness John called his listeners to change their lives before God's return. God could not be tacked on to their lives without significant change and repentance.

The connections with the exodus and return from exile are striking. When God is ready to work among his people there is a time of not only repentance but of separation from a former way of living.

With the coming of Lent, there is an opportunity to break away from bad habits, to seek God in the quiet places, and to find where God is at work among us. It is easy to create our own pictures of Jesus and God, expecting God to work in certain ways, places, or situations. However, when we step away from our work, our routines, and our homes, we can open ourselves for repentance and then reception to the work of God.

Ed Cyzewski is the author of Coffeehouse Theology: Reflecting on God in Everyday Life. He blogs on theology at