Preaching Christ, the Goal of Ministry | Mark 1:6–7

“Now John was clothed with camel’s hair 
and wore a leather belt around his waist 
and ate locusts and wild honey. 
And he preached, saying, 
‘After me comes he who is mightier than I, 
the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.’”

Those wanting to grow their churches may want to cover their eyes.  John the Baptist didn’t wear stylish clothing, he didn’t follow advice from church-planting gurus, and he didn’t keep his message light and “inspirational.”  Even so, masses of people streamed into the middle of the wilderness (vv. 4–5) to hear this roughly dressed man preaching sin and repentance. 

John the Baptist was a Levite and should have followed his father into temple service.  However, God had other plans.  Gabriel told his parents that John would go before the Messiah “in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Lk 1:17).  John would be the forerunner, the voice in the wilderness (Isa 40:1–11).  Malachi, the last prophet before John, proclaimed that Lord would send Elijah to turn around people’s hearts (Mal 4:5–6).  This explains why John’s appearance was reminiscent of Elijah (cf. 2 Kgs 1:8).  Jesus later explained that John the Baptist fulfilled prophecy (Mt 17:10–13). 

The proclamation of a message the essential role of a prophet, and John’s message was Christ.  John, drawing his crowds, draws their attention to Christ.  He says that he is unworthy to be even the lowest of slaves to Christ, not even good enough to loose the Master’s sandals.  His goal was to turn people’s eyes and hearts to the Messiah.

What is the goal of ministry?  Many churches proclaim good works in the community and programs.  Some put on entertaining shows including motivational speeches, while still others have rites and ceremonies to achieve an air of solemnity.  Some churches even cultivate ecstatic experiences.  As churches grow and even launch satellite campuses, they assume that crowds mean that God is at work.  Perhaps.

Is the aim of your church to humbly proclaim Christ?  Does it preach God’s Word, calling you to repent of your sin and turn toward a merciful Savior?  If it is not, then find a church today whose ministry seeks to follow God and His Word in all that it does.  If it is, pray that your pastor and church will stay on its biblical mission.

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