Mark 1:4 “John came baptizing in the wilderness…”
Mark is considered to be the first gospel account written. It is believed he is John Mark that is mentioned several times in the New Testament and that he got his information for the gospel from Peter. One of the reasons a book or letter was considered for canon placement was apostolic authorship. Mark is considered the gospel from Peter’s recollection and point of view. Mark begins his account of Jesus at the point where He is baptized by John. He references Malachi and Isaiah as prophecies to say John and Jesus are fulfillments of the forerunner and Messiah. Apparently the copy of the Greek known as NU reads as Isaiah the prophet instead of just prophets. It and another known as M differ in a few words from the majority of Greek texts we have. It is believed to be one of the latter ones written. Some critics want to give it a lot of weight, others do not. The NIV translators used it in the text while others just footnote it. I tend to go with the latter. I feel it’s better to run with the majority of texts and note the differences as you find them given the timeline. At any rate, that difference here throws some folks off since verse two is a quote from Malachi and verse three is from Isaiah. To me, either works when you remember that Peter would be recounting a tale, not giving a verbatim transcript. When trying to remember an Old Testament reference it would be very easy to throw one in that supplements another. Inspired by God, but written by man. No error, just the nature of humanity.
4 “…baptism of repentance for the remission of sins”
I can see why some like to think baptism is required for salvation. But that idea doesn’t jive with the rest of scripture. Therefore, you have to look for another reason for interpreting what is here besides just the way the text flows in English. Easiest way of looking at it is to realize our actions aren’t first, they are reactions to something we think, choose, or decide. Baptism is an outward sign and action of something that has occurred within us. But what has occurred within us is the substance, what matters, not any outward sign or action we take. That’s not to say the action is not important as it shows the real matter has taken place. As Paul says in Romans, you believe in your heart so you confess with your mouth. Then you follow through by being baptized to show your association with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
6 “…John was clothed with camel’s hair…leather belt…ate locusts and wild honey”
His mission and calling was most important to him, not his clothing, food, or personal comfort. Reminds me of scientists on the brink of discovery. They forget to do everything else as they’re totally focused on their work. This would also put John in the company of the Old Testament prophets who seemed a bit odd and outside the mainstream.
7 “…There comes One after me…”
He had a message to preach, repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, but he also proclaimed that the Messiah was here. That alone should have told the religious leaders they needed to pay attention. They didn’t have to take John’s word for it alone, but they should have at least admitted the possibility and checked him out against scripture.
9 “…Jesus…was baptized by John…”
You really need all four of the gospel accounts to get an idea of what happened here. Appears that Jesus was baptized by John, then afterward John was able to witness the Spirit coming down upon Jesus. He probably heard the voice of God as well. But you don’t get all of that unless you read all four accounts. Luke says it was as Jesus was praying. Here it says He saw as though it refers to Jesus. I’m wondering if it actually refers to John as John the Apostle records that John bore witness that he saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus. Would need to know the Greek here to be sure. Works either way. At any rate, John and Jesus were probably the only ones to see and hear what happened, and you don’t get that from just one account. One commentary suggests it was done to reassure John that Jesus was the One. And John says he was told to watch and see who the Spirit descended upon.
18 “…immediately left their nets and followed Him”
Peter just hits the high spots. From the other accounts we know more about what happened. Strange that you don’t really see the need for the different accounts until you dig into each of them. Knowing the limitations of human nature, having four gospels shows the wisdom of God in portraying what He wanted to us about Jesus’s time here.
I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.