Scripture: Mark 1:1-13
Observation: Mark starts off by introducing the purpose of his writing – to share the Good News about Jesus. He then goes on to introduce John the Baptist, whose purpose is to prepare the way for the Lord. John baptizes people with water, signifying a cleansing of sin and repenting to God, until Jesus comes and baptizes them with the Holy Spirit. When he baptized Jesus, the heavens split open, and they hear God’s voice.
Application: In today’s fast-paced world, you can find countless books, articles, blogs, and videos about how to return to a life of “simplicity.” Whether it’s about how to better establish a work-life balance, how to pare down your possessions, or how to create a capsule wardrobe (which I’m not brave enough to do quite yet!), we hear messages about slowing down, embracing the simply life, and breaking the “busy” habit. We turn to experts to tell us how to simplify and how to refocus ourselves.
When I read this opening chapter of Mark, I think we can learn something about simplicity from John the Baptist, too. He didn’t have a doctorate in psychology and he never published a Buzzfeed article about the “10 things we need to do to simplify our lives NOW,” but he had a heart and a purpose that naturally drove him towards the simple life.
He prepared the way for the Lord.
That’s it. That was his sole purpose.
And while he had a singular purpose, you can bet that he had a lot of pressures put on him. This is the man that fulfilled a prophecy from the book of Isaiah (see verse 2). This is the man that all of the people of Judea went out to see and hear. This is the man that eventually baptized Jesus.
And despite all of that attention, this is the man that lived a simple life. Look at verse 6:
“His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.”
His clothes were simple. His food was simple. His life wasn’t big and flashy and glamorous – but it was purposeful. It was small. It was humble. He didn’t even consider himself worthy “to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of [Jesus’s] sandals.”
He spends his life in the smallest and simplest of ways, shying away from the spotlight, and humbly deferring to the one he came to serve: Jesus Christ.
We find simplicity in our lives when we learn to serve, rather than to be served.
That’s what John did: he served. He didn’t worry about what he looked like or what his next meal would be – he just served how he was called to serve.
Do we spend our own small, simple lives with a solitary purpose: to serve Jesus Christ? Do we have the humility of John the Baptist, knowing that even when we give all we have to praise him that we’re unworthy of even untying the straps of his sandals? Do we give praise to the One who gave us purpose in the first place?
P.S. If you’re looking for ways to slow down, to embrace simplicity, and learn more about how John the Baptist can teach us to live “small” lives, check out “Simply Tuesday” by Emily Freeman. It’s an absolutely incredible book that I devoured in a single weekend. I’m giving away a copy today – to enter, all you have to do is sign up for my email newsletter below, and one lucky reader will get “Simply Tuesday” delivered straight to their house!
Prayer: God, thank you for giving us John the Baptist and his model of a small, simple, purposeful life. I pray I can model my life after his, embracing the opportunity to serve others and bring glory to your name.