Drawing on the prophetic words of Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3, Mark's first beginning identifies John the Baptist as the forerunner of Jesus. John's baptism of repentance draws people from Jerusalem and takes place in the Jordan River. His message draws attention to the one who comes after him and who will baptize with the Holy Spirit (1:2-8).
The Gospel's second beginning is the story of Jesus coming to John from Nazareth in Galilee to be baptized. As Jesus comes up from the waters, the heavens are torn apart, a manifestation of the Spirit descends in the form of a dove, and a voice from heaven announces, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased" (1:9-11).
The Gospel's third beginning is the narrative of Jesus being driven by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days to face the testing of Satan. There among the wild beasts, angels minister to Jesus (1:12-13).
The Gospel's fourth beginning ties the arrest of John to the beginning of Jesus' public ministry in Galilee, where he proclaims God's good news (gospel). Jesus' announcement of the nearness of God's kingly reign and rule calls for turning around in repentance and believing in the good news that takes place in the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth (1:14-15).
2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah,*
See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,*
who will prepare your way;
3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight ,
4John the baptizer appeared* in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camels hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with* water; but he will baptize you with* the Holy Spirit.
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, You are my Son, the Beloved;* with you I am well pleased.
12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news* of God,*
15and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;* repent, and believe in the good news.*
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org