Up to this point Mark has described what immediately precedes Jesus’ public ministry. Although the contents of Mark 1: 1-13 do not form part of Jesus’ ministry, they are part of the gospel as a prelude to Jesus’ ministry. In fact, the central figure of Mark’s prologue (Mk 1: 2-13) is Jesus himself. The prophetic quotations and the ministry of John the Baptist look beyond John the Baptist and point to Jesus (Mk 1: 2-8). At his baptism Jesus is identified as God’s Son who is anointed by the Holy Spirit for his ministry as the Servant Messiah destined to suffer (Mk 1: 9-11). The temptation account (Mk 1: 12-13) shows the testing of God’s Son by Satan, a symbol of Jesus’ victorious struggle against the forces of evil throughout his ministry. Thus, we can understand the Markan prologue (Mk 1: 1-13) as a theological introduction to Jesus’ ministry.
The narrative of Jesus’ ministry begins at Mark 1: 16-20 with the call of the first disciples. Mark 1: 14-15 serves as a preface, effecting a smooth transition from the prologue (Mk 1: 1-13) to Jesus’ ministry (Mk 1: 16ff). This transitional passage is a summary statement which announces in advance what Jesus’ ministry is going to be about. Mark 1: 14-15 is an important programmatic statement which not only summaries Jesus’ ministry but introduces and initiates that ministry.