But before we can do what Jesus did, we need to know what Jesus did. The best place to go for answers to this is the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. In particular Mark, which often gets overlooked. Historians believe that it was written by John Mark who started out with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey in the book of Acts. He dropped out on the trip for reasons unknown, but continued to be a part of the church. Mark was also a relative of Peter, possibly a nephew. His gospel is thought to either be the memories of Peter or Peter actually dictated to Mark because he was better at writing.
Mark’s gospel stresses what Jesus did, we see Jesus on the move. We need to know the teaching of Jesus, but just seeing what he did gives us a picture of what was important to him. Mark’s gospel skips the birth narrative and gets right to his ministry. The first chapter begins with the ministry of John the Baptist and then goes to Jesus’ baptism and temptation. Even here Mark doesn’t tell us much about either event, but this is how Jesus prepared for going out. For him to minister to others it was important to first prepare himself. In Matthew we see that Jesus told John the Baptist that he was being baptized because it was the right thing to do to fulfill all righteousness. My translation of this is that Jesus was saying, “It’s the right thing to do to do the right thing.” Jesus didn’t need to repent, but he did need to submit to the Father and this was one way to show that submission. Before we can live for God we have to submit to his authority in our lives.
The next thing we see, immediately, is that the Spirit led Jesus out to the wilderness for a time of contemplation and temptation. Now this isn’t the only time Jesus was tempted, but here at the beginning of his ministry it stands as an example to us of what it means to be ready to serve God. It won’t be easy and we will be tempted to take short cuts or to make situations about us and not about following God. Jesus needed to be focused and to have his priorities in order and this time in the wilderness gave him time for both. Often in our lives we want the easy and quick answer. Living for Jesus takes time and commitment. Jesus’ example to us shows us that he was willing to put in the time and to commit to this path.
As we prepare in this New Year to do what Jesus did, we need the same willingness to put in the time and commitment it will take. That is true of everything we want to do in life. If you want to get in better shape you have to put in the time and stay committed to the process. You want a better marriage once again you need time and commitment. This won’t happen overnight, but over many nights, some of them sleepless. But if we will keep our eyes on Christ we will find greater blessing and encouragement in doing as Jesus did.
So sit down and read Mark. What Mark lacks in depth of details he makes up for in giving us a picture of how Jesus lived and what was important to him. As we live and face situations each day in our lives knowing what Jesus did will help us to know how to live for him today.