The Wilderness of Advent
by: Jill Ver Steeg
“The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ” (v. 1). This is Mark’s way of saying “Genesis.” The good news of Jesus is the genesis of all things. As Genesis chapter one, verse one takes us out into the wastes of formless void and primordial chaos before God spoke and created a good world, so Mark chapter one takes us back to the wilderness, to the desert of a fallen world. This is the location where God will build his highway to salvation.
The good news of Jesus, anticipated by the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “prepare the way of the Lord,” makes its start here. This is where the voice of hope has to cry out. The wilderness is that place where God meets people: a burning bush and a man named Moses; a maid servant named Hagar, kicked out of her home and left for dead in the desert; a nation called Israel, homeless and hungry in the wilderness yet led by cloud and fire. Saul, the murderer of Christ-followers, is blinded by a heavenly light as he travels through the desert on the Damascus Road, and becomes Paul the evangelist. In the wilderness John the Baptist calls people to the very presence of God and points them to the Christ.
If we really want to meet the Christ whose coming this season is about, we must look for him in the wilderness places in our world—and in our lives.