Read Mark 1:1-13
As with the entirety of this Gospel, the first thirteen verses are packed with action and insight. Mark lets it be known from the first verse that all he is doing is whetting your appetite for more of Jesus. He is not presenting the complete message of the Good News; he is writing “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” It is up to us to accept that Good News and to enter into relationship with God’s beloved Son.
What we can glean from these early verses is that the evangelist is presenting the revelation of God’s love made manifest in the human person of Jesus. Mark presents the prophetic witness from Isaiah and Malachi (vv. 2-3), the testimony of John the Baptist (vv. 7-8), and most significantly, the witness of the Holy Spirit (vv. 10-11).
In the harsh environment of incarnate life, it seems somehow peculiarly important that it was a dove that the Father sent as a witness to the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon His Son. Among the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22f) that are bestowed upon those who walk in the Spirit, is gentleness. A dove is one of the most gentle of animals. God did not send a hawk to take us by force; He sent a dove—a gentle invitation. A dove also hearkens back to Noah who sent a dove from the ark as a sign and messenger of deliverance to the once perishing, but now restoring, world. Mark shows us the dove as a sign of the true Deliverer, the One who has come to save all who will come to Him.
Mark reveals that life in Jesus is life in the Spirit. We can receive baptism for remission of sin, as John bestowed, but we must also welcome baptism in the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus, in order to experience fulness of life. The evangelist also reminds us that the Spirit will provide for us when we find ourselves walking in the wilderness (vv. 12-13). The Spirit is life.