The opening of Mark’s Gospel has many intentional allusions to the story of Israel’s Exodus from slavery to Egypt. Mark portrays Jesus’ ministry as a second Exodus from the powers of darkness such as sin and the demonic.
The first allusion to the Exodus are the opening words of the Gospel which is a combined quotation from Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. In introducing the ministry of John the Baptist, he is described as “a voice of one calling in the desert” (Mark 1:2,3). The whole countryside of Judah is described as going out to John to be baptized by him in the Jordan River (Mark 1:4-8). Even Jesus is seen as emerging out of the waters of the Jordan River as He gets ready for His ministry in Canaan (Mark 1:9-15). We are meant to make the connection with Israel as they traveled through the desert for 40 years. They eventually crossed the Jordan River and entered the Land of Promise, Canaan, under Joshua’s leadership.
Joshua is a type or foreshadowing of Jesus Christ. Jesus fulfills the ministry of Joshua. After he was baptized by John in the Jordan River, Jesus was led out to the desert by God’s Spirit where He was tempted by Satan after 40 days of fasting. Again we are meant to see the connection with Israel. The Jews wandered in the desert for 40 years after they left Egypt. Jesus, the true Israelite and true Vine of God (John 15:1), proves to be faithful in His 40-day test. This was unlike the Israelites who in their 40-year desert wanderings repeatedly disobeyed God and always wanted to return back to Egypt.
Mark will show how Jesus in His life, death, and resurrection will enable God’s people to realize all of God’s promises and purposes. The new Joshua will complete God’s work that was begun in the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants.
In the early chapters of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is seen to have authority over the demonic, disease, storms and the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:1-12). He goes up a mountain and chooses twelve disciples (Mark 3:13-19), just like Moses received the 10 commandments on a mountain and gave them to the twelve tribes of Israel (Exodus 20). Jesus is portrayed as a greater Moses and will be also shown to be a greater David. He is the promised Messianic king of the Davidic family line. He will not only lead believing Jews but also believing Gentiles to possess the promised kingdom of God through a new covenant. No wonder Mark’s Book is called Gospel. It truly is Good News. In Christ’s love and service, Pastor John