Article for January 7, 2024
Mark 1:4–5 4John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
We just celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus and we are already celebrating His Baptism. Baptism is a cleansing from sin. The Jews at the time of Jesus would recognize baptism as a washing. But baptism to the Jews became a ceremonial cleansing so they would not be unclean during worship. This formality was carried out before worship or entering the Temple.
Baptism to a Christian is a cleansing from the original sin, which is, disobeying God. God gives us commands to follow known to us as the Ten Commandments. Jesus gave us two commands, one to love God and one to love each other.
Adam and Eve were given 1 command and they broke that command. God gave His chosen people the Ten Commandments, included in the six hundred thirteen laws told to us in the book of Leviticus. And God’s chosen could not keep them. Jesus gave us two commands and we have not always kept them.
It’s simple; obey God to remain as God’s. Through our infamous lack of wisdom we take simple and force it to be very difficult. We have been tainted through the sin of Adam and Eve, and we have no hope to regain our place with God left to our own devices. And what some might claim as being worse is that we need to confess this to God, ourselves, and to each other.
Mark 1:6–8 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
What would we think if someone came up from the river wearing camel’s hair with a bag of wild honey locust chips? What would you do if he looked at you and said come, confess your sins, and let me baptize you? We would probably take out our cell phone and call 911. There’s a crazy man in camel’s hair telling people to confess their sins and be baptized by him!
As you stand by and continue to take this odd site of a man in, you hear him say…After me comes one mightier than I who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit! Ok, now you might say this guy is certifiably nuts and needs to be locked up. Who walks around in a river like that? Can you imagine the smell of fish and camel mixed?
Just when you start to turn and run from this scene you see people walking towards him yelling out their sins and asking to be baptized. You can’t believe your eyes. These people are trusting this camel hair wacko and actually take part in this baptism of repentance! As you again start to turn to leave this place you see an individual walking toward the camel hair guy with His arms stretched out and He is not yelling out His sins but looking up to heaven; He appears to be praying to God.
Mark 1:9–11 9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
You are frozen in place, your eyes are on this single soul, and you watch the camel hair guy baptize this man who wears a simple tunic. Just when you think you’re about to get your wits about you, something amazing happens that seems to tear the very fabric of the reality that you thought you knew.
The sky opens and a dove with wings spread wide seems to float down from the opening in the sky and land on the man in the simple tunic. Now you are really mesmerized and as you stand gawking at this array of events you hear a loud voice say…This is my Son; with you I am well pleased. If you’re not believing yet, you might never believe.
Genesis 1:3–5 3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (John 1:4-5)
The light that is spoken of here is not the sun or the moon as God does not create the sun and moon until the fourth day. This light is a separation of light and darkness. This is the light to give prime requisite for life, that is, this is needed for life to exist.
It is as if the light that is spoken about in John 1:4-5 which is Jesus who is the light and this light like Jesus is needed for life. Hence, Jesus needed to be crucified and resurrected for the light of life to continue. Jesus can no longer die, the light is forever.
Romans 6:9–11 9We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
We have two life giving sacraments that give us a cleansing, forgiveness, and a light for life as they are all tied to Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Our baptism still cleanses us from original sin. The Lord’s Supper cleanses us in the blood of the Lamb. Both sacraments give us forgiveness and prepare us for the eternal light, the everlasting life with and in the light, Jesus Christ.
Written by Pastor Curtis A. May