Visible Evidence of Christ’s Presence

Posted by on Jan 10, 2021 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Visible Evidence of Christ’s Presence

Dear Lord….thank you for the gifts you give to each of us. You have kept us safe, we have homes we can retreat to when we need it, we have food to feed our bodies and you provide food for our souls every day through your Word and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Be with us this week as we learn more about the baptism of Jesus and what it means in our lives as your disciples.This week, our gospel lesson is from Mark 1:1-11. I know that the first three verses are often eliminated from consideration, but in those three verses, we see the proclamation John the Baptist made as taken from the prophet Isaiah, who was telling people that our of the wilderness would come the messenger to bring the news of Jesus Christ.Mark doesn’t begin his gospel with any genealogy of Jesus, as the other gospel writers do. He begins with the quotations from Malachi 3 and Isaiah 40…regarding the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. That is the only genealogy Mark mentions.An interesting aspect for me was the description of the wilderness. I have always thought of the wilderness as something with no people…no trees…just sand and desert. Well, in Jesus time, the wilderness was an area outside the city. There were trees. There were people living there. Mark includes it to say that symbolically, John and Jesus were leaving an established social system, which fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah regarding the promised salvation of Israel.Mark continues to say that many people from both Jerusalem and Judea (indicating both Jews and Gentiles) were following John. Mark is also showing that there were rural people in this group as well as people from a city, or both social and geographical people They were listening to his message of love and forgiveness and wanting to be baptized by him.John baptized by dipping or immersion. This was done for those who were repentant of their sins and wanted cleansing. There was no “identification” or naming connected with John’s baptism. And, even then, there was only onetime baptism for all people. With this desire to be forgiven, the people were repentant of their sins…they wanted to reconcile or get their affairs in order with God. Personal and social repentance was needed. When John baptized them, the people agreed to be brought into a transformed group of believers.Mark also states that someone more powerful than he would be coming and would baptize the people with the Holy Spirit. We see again that this follows the prophecies from Isaiah and Malachi. This presentation of Jesus is central to Mark’s gospel. Jesus left his family and his village to minister to the people of His Father, God. He, too, became the one who not only became part of the transformed believers, but brought to all the gift of the Holy Spirit. As Jesus was baptized, He dedicated his life to religious living along with other believers. It was at this point that his ministry began. Just as Jesus was coming out of the River Jordan, the heavens opened up and God spoke to Him and to all who were there. God declared that “you are my Son, the Beloved and I am well pleased.”How amazing would that declaration have been to hear! It is like God’s blessing on beginning the work of making disciples in God’s world. There is no question about who Jesus belongs to. No questions at all.How does this story help us understand our own baptism? Most of us were babies when we were baptized and...

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