John the Baptist Announces the Coming One (1:1 – 8).
This passage marks the beginning of Mark’s message for his distraught community. The story of Jesus can now unfold with the proclamation of John the Baptist.
The audience is to learn that neither the formidable power of evil nor the crushing brutality of the powers-that-be will enjoy the last word.
The Baptist senses God’s presence in the person of Jesus. He also understands his own mission in terms of precursor – he is to prepare the way of the Lord.
Specifically, he prepares the people for the arrival of ‘one mightier ‘ than he by proclamation of radical conversion. He proceeds to demonstrate the seriousness of his intent by appearing in the guise of Elijah (camel’s hair clothing and leather belt). He emphasises the centrality of Jesus by seeing himself only in the role of a herald. Jesus, not he, is to occupy centre stage.