The Glory in the Names

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

(Mark 1:1, NET)

Mark 1:1 is something of a superscription; it is not a sentence having no verb. Yet, it tells us much about the special season that is upon us, the exuberant celebration of the greatest event in history: the coming into this world of its creator and redeemer.

The verse reveals the theme of the book. The word “beginning” calls attention to the topic that Mark would subsequently unfold for his readers: the life, claims, and accomplishments of a person (and delineate the implication for Christ-followers). The word “gospel” does not refer to the Book of Mark but the subject of Mark’s book, the content of the preaching by the earliest Christians. The idea of “news” in the Old Testament is that something significant has happened, and so here.

The good news, the proclamation of Christ-followers, is described by three titles, each explaining a facet of the central person; the first two have a deep Old Testament heritage. In His names is a declaration of His person!

  • “Jesus” means deliverer (Joshua [Yeshua], salvation). “…you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This name tells us why He came!
  • “Christ” means the Anointed One (Messiah), the one whom God appointed to be the deliverer, the one who would come to fulfill the Old Testament promise of deliverance. “You are the Christ…” said Peter (Matthew 16:16). This name tells us the authority behind His coming!
  • “Son of God” points to Jesus’s unique relationship to God. He is a man (Jesus); He is God’s special agent (Christ); and He is God! The man possessed equality with God. This name tells us His qualification to be our deliverer! Only God could satisfy the demands of God because God requires perfect congruity with Himself.

It is interesting that Jesus’s most preferred title for Himself was none of these; it was “Son of Man.” Rooted in Daniel 7:13, the term refers to our Lord’s dominion. He will one day reign triumphantly over all creation. This name tells us of His ultimate victory!