Treason is a crime punishable by death. As it currently stands, we are all guilty of it. The only way to escape it is to turn from your rebellion and seek the King's mercy.
So begins Mark's gospel. The first half of the opening chapter makes it clear that Jesus Christ is the Sovereign King. His kingship is noted in three ways.
The very first line is one evidence of Christ's royalty. In ancient times the kings and emperors would send out announcements when a child was born to their house. It would say that there was good news: a son of god has been born.
Mark's initial word is, "The beginning of the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ, the Son of God." This declaration was a confession that Christ was the incarnate King.
Mark immediately follows this with the narrative of John the Baptist and his role as one who would "prepare the way of the Lord" and "make straight his paths." In ancient times, before a king would travel to a certain place, servants would be sent ahead to fill in potholes and fix the roads so the king's journey wouldn't be too rough. There is even a legend that a whole mountain was leveled for one particular king.
John was the King's path maker. His duty, of course, was that of a spiritual paving. He called people to repentance. It was their lives that needed to be made straight. Their pride needed to be leveled. Their crooked ways needed to be made straight through their repentance.
Thirdly, Christ is designated as king by virtue of His royal anointing from on high. Jewish kings were always anointed with oil. It was a way of saying, "God's Spirit has equipped you to reign." Mark doesn't dwell long on it, but he notes that the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus after He was baptized. Everyone standing there would have recognized this royal symbol.
The story then takes a ironic turn. The people who were living in rebellion to the King ought to have been rounded up and executed. But instead Jesus extends the offer of grace. He says, "Repent and believe the gospel."
This King essentially says, "I have good news for you. If you turn from your rebellion and pledge allegiance to me, I will allow you to live."
Obviously, refusing this offer will mean that you give the king no other choice but to carry out your execution. However, King Jesus does permit you this present chance to amend your ways.
Up to this point, you have not given the king the homage he deserves. You have not known him or acknowledged him to the degree you should have. You have not kept his commands or walked in his ways.
What's more, you have actively sought to usurp his throne! You have been involved in a quiet conspiracy. By your silent disavowal of his absolute dominion over your life, you have declared yourself king and Lord.
The King finds this betrayal utterly unacceptable. However, He gives you this chance. He extends his mercy to you and allows you the opportunity to renounce the error of your ways. He pledges to grand you full pardon if you would only turn from your present sedition. If you seek his favor and give allegiance to His crown, then you may no more fear having to pay the price owed to you for your disloyalty.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.