The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.
I want to reflect further on the opening verse of Mark. In yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, I focused on the meaning of “good news” in the statement: “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” (1:1). Today I want to draw our attention to the specific content of that good news as he opens his Gospel.
Identifying Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God gives him unique authority on earth, authority over God’s people, including you and me.
That content has to do with Jesus and his identity. Yet, it’s easy for us to misunderstand what Mark intends in verse 1. Many English translations, though not the NIV, use “Jesus Christ” instead of “Jesus the Messiah” for the Greek phrase Iesou Christou. That standard translation is fine as long as we remember that “Christ” is the Greek version of the Hebrew word mashiach, which we know as the English word “Messiah.” “Christ” is not Jesus’s last name, but rather a title that identifies him as Israel’s “Anointed One,” the literal meaning of mashiach. The messiah, in ancient Jesus expectation, was the King who was to save Israel and restore God’s kingdom on earth.
The phrase “Son of God” has a range of meanings. In later Christian theology, “Son of God” points to Jesus’s divine nature as the second member of the Trinity. But the original Jewish sense of Son of God, found throughout the Old Testament, has to do with royalty. The “Son of God” was the king of Israel (2 Sam 7:14; Ps 2:7; 89:26-27). The title “Son of God” didn’t indicate the king’s divinity, but rather his royal authority derived from God. Following the resurrection of Jesus, Christians came to see that he was far more than just a human king. But the roots of his full identity grow deeply into the soil of the Old Testament and its vision of the kingdom of God. Mark 1:1 reminds us of this salient but often overlooked truth.
Thus, when we acknowledge Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, we should understand the original sense of this language, the language of kingship. Mark 1:1 introduces the good news of God’s kingdom by focusing on Jesus who is the agent of inauguration. Jesus has come to fulfill Old Testament promises of the coming kingdom of God. In the broadest sense, Jesus has come to usher in the reign of God on earth.
We’ll learn much more about what this means in the weeks to come. For now, it’s worthy noting that identifying Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God gives him unique authority on earth, authority over God’s people, including you and me. When we confess Jesus to be the Messiah, we are saying that he is not only the King of Jews, but also our King. His royalty is not just a matter of theological affirmation, but also a truth that shapes every moment of our lives. And, Mark tells us, the fact that Jesus is our King is very good news.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When you hear the words “Christ,” “Messiah,” and “Son of God,” what comes to mind?
Do you ever think of Jesus as your King? If so, what difference does this make in your daily life?
How might your work be different if you remembered that Jesus is your King?
All praise be to you, Jesus, because you are Israel’s Messiah, the Anointed One who ushers in the kingdom of God.
All praise be to you, Jesus, because you are the Son of God, the rightful King, the One who rules with divine authority.
All praise be to you, Jesus, because you are not just the King of Israel, and not just the King of creation, but also my King. I honor you today with my words and deeds. May I live my whole life in service to you, O King. Amen.