“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).
The first verse says it all! The King and the Kingdom have come! The rest of the Gospel unpacks that declaration. The first chapter proclaims that Jesus is the Second Adam, Son of God incarnate, in fulfillment of the Pactum Salutis made before creation. Mark arranges three A sections that proclaim Jesus’ identity with two B sections that show the Kingdom has come in Jesus’ incarnation.
The New Adam
A Son of God (Mark 1:1-13)
B The Kingdom (Mark 1:14-20)
A Son of God (Mark 1:21-28)
B The Kingdom (Mark 1:29-39)
A Son of God (Mark 1:40-45)
In the first A section, God identifies Jesus as His vassal Son. First, Mark quotes Isaiah and Malachi. John is the voice preparing the way of the Lord (Mal 3:1; Isa 40:3). Isaiah and Malachi promise that God will come (Isa 40:10; 62:11; Mal 3:1) and bring salvation to His people. But God coming is realized as the Angel of the Covenant (Mal 3:1ff) and as the Servant of the Lord (Isa 42:1-9; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12). This is the heart of the Pactum Salutis in which God the Son covenanted before creation that He would become the incarnate Second Adam. Through His obedience to the Pactum Salutis He would bring the Kingdom of God which Adam failed to bring. When Mark quotes a few verses in Malachi and Isaiah, he is referencing much more. The quote is a shorthand reference to the message of Isaiah, and Malachi, and the background in the Old Testament. Adam didn’t bring the Kingdom; Israel didn’t bring the Kingdom. Jesus would be the faithful Adam. Mark’s announcement is that the suzerain God has come as the vassal king and brought the Kingdom! John baptized with water. Jesus baptized with the Holy Spirit! For He is the Spirit endowed vassal King from heaven.
At His baptism, the Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove, and God the Father proclaimed, “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). This is not a statement of ontological affirmation. God the Father is not telling God the Son He is pleased with God the Son. The approbation is in the context of the Pactum Salutis. God the Father, Suzerain King on the throne in heaven, proclaims His covenant approval of God the Son incarnate as vassal king on earth, Second Adam. Jesus’ water baptism points to the baptismal judgment He would face in obedience to the Father (Luke 12:50). The Father’s words echo Psalm 2:7 where the Father at Christ’s enthronement declares Him Son,
“You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You” (Ps 2:7).
The collision of images immediately calls the reader to see not just the Holy Spirit coming down on Jesus, but the “Spirit” on the Second Adam (Gen 1:1, 26-27). The “Spirit” refers to the theophany of the King enthroned in heaven. Jesus, as vassal king, is the true image of the King of heaven. Isaiah would write,
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me” (Isa 61:1).
Jesus, Second Adam, vassal image of the King of heaven, has come. So coming up out of the baptismal waters also refers to the creation of the first Adam. As God created,
“Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Gen 1:2).
Immediately after his creation, Adam was tested by the serpent in the garden. So immediately after the Second Adam’s baptism as the vassal image of the King of heaven, He is tested as Satan contests the Father’s declaration of righteousness. The first Adam faced his probation in paradise surrounded by animals. The second Adam was in the wilderness surrounded by wild beasts. The first Adam was barred from the garden by the angels after his fall. The second Adam was ministered to by the angels. The first Adam failed to guard the holy royal garden temple of the King; the second Adam defeated Satan at the temple. The first Adam lost the world when he listened to Satan; the second Adam gained the world when He refused to listen to Satan and obeyed the King of heaven.
The first B section (Mark 1:14-20) starts with Jesus’ proclamation,
“The time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near…” (Mark 1:15; trans.).
In the coming of Jesus, the promise is fulfilled! He is the King brings the kingdom. The obligated response is obvious:
“Repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).
The King calls the disciples to follow and immediately they left their work and families and followed Him. The king called, and they went. His words, “I will make you become fishers of men” (Mark 1:17) have much more eschatological weight than the modern reader may hear. The prophets spoke of the coming judgment as an eschatological fish fry! Jeremiah 16:16-18 designates it as the day God will repay iniquity. The romance is all stripped from Ezekiel’s words,
“I will put hooks in your jaws
And make the fish of your rivers cling to your scales.
And I will bring you up out of the midst of your rivers,
And all the fish of your rivers will cling to your scales” (Ezek 29:4; cf. 38:4).
“The Lord God has sworn by His holiness,
‘Behold, the days are coming upon you
When they will take you away with meat hooks,
And the last of you with fish hooks’” (Amos 4:2; see Hab 1:14-17).
The coming of Kingdom brings salvation, but it also brings judgment. Jesus calls His disciples to be messengers of that dividing Kingdom.
The second A section (Mark 1:21-28) focuses on His authority. The crowds are amazed at His authoritative teaching, because He taught as “having authority” (Mark 1:22). When He cast the unclean spirit out, they were all amazed at the authority He demonstrated over the demons,
“He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him” (Mark 1:27).
This emphasis on Jesus’ authority is not a reference to His ontological authority as God the Son, but rather His vassal authority as the Son of God image of the King of Heaven. His is the authority as Second Adam. As He brings the Kingdom, so He casts the serpent and his demons out! The first Adam failed to cast the serpent out; the Second Adam casts the unclean spirits out. The demons confess,
“I know who You are – the Holy One of God!” (Mark 1:24)
Mark, then moves to the second B section (Mark 1:29-39). He exercises His authority to heal the sick and cast out the demons. He does not allow the demons to even speak. He healed Simon’s mother-in-law. Her fever left her, and she was waiting on them. The Second Adam casts the serpent out and reverses the effects of the fall. No more sick and dying, the sick are raised up to serve the King.
The final A section completes the triad of proclamations as to the identity of Jesus. The Father called Him “My beloved Son” (Mark 1:11). The demon confessed Him as “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24). Now the leper confesses Him as Son of God too. The leper fell on his knees prostrate before Jesus and said,
“If You are willing, You can make me clean” (Mark 1:40).
The moment is filled with significance. A leper was deemed as good as dead, so terrible was the disease. When Naaman asked the king of Israel to cure his leprosy, the king said,
“Am I God, to kill and to make alive, that this man is sending word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?” (2 Kgs 5:7)
Only God could heal the leper! The leper didn’t say, “If God is willing, I know you can heal me.” He said, “if You are willing, You can….” The leper confessed Jesus as the One who gives life! More than that, he confessed that Jesus makes one “clean” (Mark 1:40). Adam was vassal king, and Adam was priest to guard the holiness of the kingdom. So, the Second Adam didn’t just renew this leper’s standing in the temple community of the Old Covenant – though Jesus sends him to the priest. Jesus takes away the unclean leprosy, and the man is clean in the Kingdom of God. But be assured, it wasn’t because the leper obeyed! He immediately did what Jesus told him not to do and told everyone what the Lord had done, even to the hindering of the Gospel message.
The New Adam has come, faithful vassal Son of God, the Holy One of God, the Giver of Life! All authority is His, and the Kingdom has come. He gives life to the dead, heals the sick, makes the unclean clean, and casts out the unclean spirits. Here is the faithful Adam.
Jeff Taylor, More Than Heaven (forthcoming)
Meredith G. Kline, By Oath Consigned
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Unless otherwise noted Scripture quotations are from NASB. Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org
trans. indicates my translation
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