This is the Prologue of Mark’s Gospel. Like the Prologue to John’s Gospel (John 1:1-18), the Prologue to Mark’s Gospel sets the scene for the rest of the book by establishing the major theme (“the beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”) and the rest of Mark’s Gospel will show how Jesus fulfills the expectations laid out in the prologue.
The beginning, for this Gospel, starts not with a baby in a manger, but with a prophetic word. Mark begins his Gospel with a trumpet call, “the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” The Greek word euangelion combines the words eu (good) and angellos (to proclaim).. We should not miss the first word of this Gospel, “Beginning” (Greek: Arche). We are reminded of the book of Genesis, which begins, “In the beginning.” Just as that book describes the beginning of all creation, this Gospel describes the salvation work of Jesus Christ—the culmination of God’s creative relationship with the world.
It has been more than three hundred years since a prophet was active in Israel, and the people think that the age of prophets is past. Now, learning of John the Baptist and his wilderness proclamation, they flock to hear him.
“A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (Isaiah 40:3). Isaiah wrote this verse during the Babylonian exile. John the Baptist is the embodiment of Elijah the prophet, who was associated with the wilderness (1 Kings 17:2-3). The scriptures promised the return of Elijah (Malachi 4:5). John’s dress and diet link him with Elijah. John is telling the Jews that they are in need of God’s forgiveness. In that, they are no different than Gentiles. John baptized them to prepare them for the day when God would come in judgment. It was a first step toward a new life.