As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: "Behold, I will send My messenger ahead of You, who will prepare Your way."
respect and acceptance as being connected with the highest aspirations and purest sentiments of morality.
I. THE SUBJECT STATED. "The gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." This title, if title it ought to be called, is very full and felicitous. It is Jesus who is the great subject of the "gospel." The latter is used here in a transitional sense, i.e. not simply of "good news," or "glad tidings," but rather of" account," "history," of the great facts of salvation.
1. The gospel concerns a great Personality. His name, which was to be "as ointment poured forth," is twofold. Jesus is his ordinary human name; his official dignity is indicated by the term "Christ" or "the Christ," i.e. the Anointed. As Messiah, he occupied relations more than human, and therefore the addendum (supported by preponderating manuscript authority), "the Son of God." The Hope of Israel was, if prophetic language is subject to reasonable canons of interpretation, more than a saint or a seer; he was partaker of the Divine nature as truly as of the human, and thus fitted to mediate between the Father and his alienated children.
2. The existence and gradual manifestation of this Person are of great and gladsome consequence to the world. It is worth while to know what he was, did, and suffered, as thereby may be discovered the meaning and the method of salvation. For this reason the account of them is preserved and commended to men.
II. UNDER WHAT ASPECT IT IS REGARDED. As something coming into existence, beginning to be, in time. We are invited, so to speak, to consider how it grew. The greatest religions have not been sudden inventions. Christianity is no exception to the rule. The interest of the mind is excited by the prospect of tracing the genesis of so great and so remarkable a phenomenon, as one might seek to follow a river to its source, or speculate as to the origin of a world. One knows, must know, more about the nature of a thing when it is thus studied. But it would be easy to lose one's self in curious conjecture, in myth and legend of the prehistoric past, without any extension of actual knowledge. In the various ways in which the evangelists account for or trace out the origin of the gospel, there is always a use more or less apparent. In practical subjects speculative researches usually turn out to be aberrations. But Mark, who is the most realistic in his tendency of any of the New Testament writers, save perhaps James, contents himself with indicating proximate origins, but in such a way as to suggest in the strongest possible way the supernatural as the only possible explanation or key.
1. It was foretold. The coming of this Person was the chief burden of prophecy. He was the Hope of the ages. The many statements of the prophets are, however, passed over by Mark in favor of two, one being introductory (ver. 2) and the other of chief importance (ver. 3). It is said, "in Isaiah the prophet," because the attention of the writer went through and beyond the first quotation, which is from Malachi, and riveted itself upon the second, from Isaiah. That such words should have been spoken so long ago was a proof of the Divine character of Christ's mission.
2. Moral preparation was needed for it. John the Baptist's work was a preparatory one, upon the heart and conscience. As a whole it is termed, from its chief rite, "the baptism" of John; and its end was repentance.
3. The personal preparation of its great subject was also essential. His fulfilling of the Law in John's baptism, and his inward spiritual endowment and illumination, ensuring moral victory, spiritual maturity, and the fullness of the Messianic consciousness, are therefore described. All these are a very small portion of the whole gospel as given by Mark; he passes with light, firm touch over each, and then launches his readers upon the great river of Christ's doings and sayings, issuing inevitably, as he ever hints and suggests, in the tragedy of Golgotha. The fullness and intensity of the narrative sensibly increase as the great catastrophe is approached, and the end throws its light back upon the faintest and most obscure "beginning." - M.
As it is written in the prophets.
II. The one like John was a prophet of HOPE; the other like him again was the prophet of DESPAIR.
III. Isaiah set the door ajar for CHRISTIANITY which John flung wide open: Malachi began to shut the door on JUDAISM which John closed.
Which shall prepare Thy way before Thee.
(J. Morison, D. D.)
1. By foretelling them that Christ was to come immediately after him.
2. By preaching the doctrine of Christ, touching His Person and offices.
3. By preaching the doctrine of faith in Christ, stirring up the people to believe in Him as the Messiah.
4. By preaching repentance, exhorting them to turn unto God from their sin, that so they might be fit to receive Christ.
5. By administering baptism.
1. We must labour to be truly humbled in the sense of our sins, and of our natural misery without Christ. We are never fit to embrace Him, till we feel how wretched we are without Him.
2. We must labour to forsake all sin in heart and affection, and we must purge the love of it out of our hearts.
3. We must get a hungering and thirsting desire after Christ.
4. We must use all means to get faith, whereby to receive Christ into our hearts.
I. THERE ARE FORMIDABLE OBSTACLES TO BE REMOVED.
1. Prejudice. The gospel is often viewed under a false light, or through a perverting medium. The self-denial, the purity, the separation from the world which Christianity inculcates begets prejudice in many.
2. Carnality. Base desires, carnal affections, etc., present formidable obstacles to the claims of the Lord (Luke 14:18-20).
4. Self-righteousness. Though spiritually diseased and dying, men imagine themselves "whole," and without need of a physician. They will not accept salvation by simple faith in the merits of another (Romans 10:1, 2).
II. REPENTANCE IS NECESSARY TO THE REMOVAL OF THESE OBSTACLES.
The American Sunday School Times.When you see a party of men engaged in taking levels and measuring distances along a particular line of country, and a little afterwards, other men laying rails, and building bridges, and cutting tunnels, it is not difficult to guess that the great tide of commerce is about to surge over that region. When loads of wood and stone are laid down on a vacant lot, it is at once evident that a building is about to be erected. So the Old Testament prophecies and John's preaching showed that the way was being prepared for the coming of Jesus. After the Romans had reduced a country to the position of a province, one of their first cares was to construct a strong military road into it. Thus the way was always prepared for their legions. In the East when some great chief is passing through the country, it is not uncommon to make new ways for his passage. Travellers in unsettled parts of the country soon learn to appreciate as never before the advantages of having roads along which to journey. Ways must be constructed for the progress of Christ's truth in the world and in the heart.
(The American Sunday School Times.)
The American Sunday School Times.To "prepare the way" before a sovereign is, and always has been, so universal a practice in the East that wherever an unusually good spot of road is found, or indeed any piece of way that shows signs of labour, a tradition or fable is almost invariably found to lie along it to the effect that that piece of road was built expressly for the passage of such a royal personage, either the sovereign of the realm which includes the territory, or one of his guests of equal exaltation. On going from Cairo to the pyramids, over an exceptionally good road, the traveller will not fail to be told that it was built for the Prince of Wales, or for the Empress Eugenie, or for the Khedive himself, or even, rarely, for Napoleon the Great.
(The American Sunday School Times.)
The American Sunday School Times.God doesn't need man's help in anything; but He chooses to call for it in a great many things. And when God does leave a place for man's work, man must do his part — or take the consequences. God is ready to give a crop to the farmer; but He calls on the farmer to plough and plant and harrow and hoe in preparing the way for God's sun and shower, and power of increase. If the farmer fails to so prepare the way of the Lord for a harvest, he must prepare for a famine — or starve. God is ready to give a blessing on our homes; but we must prepare the way of the Lord for a blessing there, by our love and our faithfulness and our industry. It is not enough to bang up a framed chromo on the dining room walls: "God bless our home!" As in the field and in the home, so in our hearts. If we want God's presence and blessing there, we must prepare the way for them. We must plan to find room for the Lord in our hearts. We must make ready to do His bidding We must decide to give up all habits of life that are inconsistent with His service, We must make a proffer of ourselves, of our time, of our talents, of all our posses sloes, to the Lord. If we refuse to do this, we must not wonder that whoever else has a blessing we are without it.
(The American Sunday School Times.)
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