One of the things Mark wants us to see in the first chapter of his gospel has to do with the kingdom authority Jesus possesses. The people of Rome knew all about kingdom power in the sense of “might makes right,” but Mark shows them something radically different in Jesus.
With his quote of Isaiah 40:3, especially the, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him” part, Mark introduces the kingship theme. When kings traveled, engineers went ahead to smooth out their travel path. In a spiritual sense, that is what John the Baptist (who spoke of Christ as “more powerful that I”) did for Jesus.
Then there’s John’s speech. He talks of Christ being “more powerful than I.” He says he’s “not worthy to stoop down and untie” the straps of Jesus’ sandals. Then he notes how he baptizes in water, but Jesus will baptize “with the Spirit.” All of these are power statements and John makes it clear that Christ has it!
What else do we learn about Jesus’ kingship and authority?
Christ’s first recorded words are about the kingdom He has come to establish (v. 15). It wouldn’t be the first (or last time) the Romans heard someone talk about a kingdom. The difference was that with Jesus’ speech is backed up by His life.
In addition to what we’ve heard from Isaiah and John the Baptist, when Jesus is baptized, the Spirit descends upon Him, and God speaks His approval. He is then led into the wilderness by the Spirit where He is confronted, not by one of the devil’s minions, but by Satan Himself. While in the wilderness He was “with” wild animals and “attended” by angels. In the space of four verses Mark has shown Jesus to be approved by God, possessed of the Spirit, ministered to by angels, and standing up to Satan. No one in the first century could read this without marveling at Jesus’ power and authority.
But of course, there’s more to see.
When you look deeper you will see how Jesus redefined kingdom authority. His power and authority were connected to His relationship with God as witnessed by His submission, His resistance to temptation, and His life of prayer. Instead of using His power and authority for personal gain, He used it to minister to others.
In the movie Darkest Hour, France has been invaded by Germany and England represents Europe’s last line of defense. Winston Churchill is on the verge of being named prime minister of Great Britain, but he isn’t handling the situation well. He is shown being unreasonably harsh and verbally abusive to his new secretary. Then he fires her. It is up to his wife, Clementine, to talk him down. “My darling,” she says, “you are on the brink of having tremendous power, surpassed only by that of the King. And with such power, you really must try and be more kind.” We’re not surprised by all of this because power has that kind of effect upon people.
But not with Jesus.
And this is but one reason why we love and adore Him so. God gave Him all power and He used it to uplift others and, in the end, be lifted up for others. If it’s been a while since you opened up your Bible and were amazed by Jesus, allow me to suggest that you’ve been reading the right book the wrong way. If you’re not filled with wonder when you read about Him, we’re not reading about Him.