Have you ever had big plans and not been able to carry them out? This morning I had tons of stuff on my 'to do' list and I've blasted through a lot of them but not managed one of the biggest tasks of all because I kept putting it off. Often we're too ambitious for our own good and we bite off more than we can chew. Thankfully when it comes to God, this is never the case...
There's expectation in this passage. God has a plan to rescue his people from sin and for hundreds of years the Jews had been awaiting a 'Messiah' or chosen one who would be sent by God to save them. Isaiah had prophesied about this moment and now it was actually happening! God had not forgotten his people or his promises to them.
God's plan is too big for our brains. It's a massive operation spanning thousands of years (or even millions depending on your creation theology). God loves the people he made and wants to put things right between us and him and Mark starts his gospel with the moment this Messiah was announced.
The thing is, the one who's doing the announcing isn't what you might expect. He's scruffy, wild-looking and eats bugs for breakfast. Not exactly the kind of MC you'd choose to announce God's arrival, even 2000 years ago. But God knows exactly what he's doing and it seems he doesn't mind who he uses as part of his plan (just as well for me). Anyone can be part of his big story.
John's message was about repentance - making a decision to turn away from sin. People clearly believed that John was from God and believed his message and wanted to respond by changing their lives and getting dunked in water in public as a sign to everyone watching.
John had the people's attention but he didn't want to keep it for long. He was setting the scene and pointing to the one who would come after him - the Messiah. His life and message was to prepare people's hearts and attitudes for the coming of Jesus. He knows that Jesus is greater than he is and that when he comes, he will immerse his followers in something better than water... in God himself!
Consider: What's your plan for your life and how much does it have to do with God's big plan?
Maybe your life is about your own story and you make it up as you go along. The problem is, if we're honest, we know we're all a long way from perfect and we let ourselves and others down regularly. We have this instinctive desire for a world better than it is now and for ourselves to be better too. Let's prepare our hearts and minds to meet Jesus in Mark's gospel by repenting as John suggested. Say sorry to God and decide to live a life that's part of his big story, rather than our own tiny monologue.