Summary: A sermon for Baptism of the Lord Sunday.
"By Water and the Spirit"
Mark starts his Gospel with: "This is the beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God's Son..."
"This is the beginning..."
The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ is the beginning of THE GOOD NEWS OF GOD for you and me.
It is the Good News that this dark wilderness of life is not where we have to stay forever.
It is the Good News that death does not have the final word.
It is the Good News that there is meaning and purpose in life.
It is the Good News that God, the God Who created this universe is REAL, and that God is incredibly concerned with human beings.
God loves human beings.
God cares about the difficulties we face.
God cares deeply, compassionately about those of us who hunger and thirst for something more than what this lost and sinful world has to offer.
God cares about what is laying heavily on your hearts and minds.
God cares deeply about those of us who are depressed, overwhelmed, underemployed, hopeless, helpless, at the end of our rope walking in the darkness, the lost-ness, of the lonely seemingly endless wilderness.
God sent John the Baptist into the wilderness of hopeless humanity to announce this Good News.
"Look, I am sending my messenger before you.
He will prepare your way, a voice shouting in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way for the Lord..."
So John was in the wilderness.
He was in the wilderness of human despair--calling for people to be baptized "to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins."
And we are told that "Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins."
That's a lot of hungry people!!!
That's a lot of folks starving, searching, needing GOOD NEWS in this lost and broken wilderness of the world.
We are no different than they were 2,000 years ago.
Everyone in every time has needed the Good News of Jesus Christ--the Good News that God so loves the world.
Where would we be without it?
I would be so lost and empty I don't even know if I would have made it this far.
I need Jesus every moment of every day.
I need the Church all the time.
I need YOU!!!
And I thank God for YOU!!!
I don't do well in the dark, dangerous, rocky, bumpy wilderness of life without Jesus.
People die in the wilderness, when they are out there--lost and exposed--by themselves.
That is why John came to the wilderness in order to prepare people for God's great entrance.
As John was baptizing folks who were desperately wanting to change their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins he announced to them: "One stronger than me is coming after me.
I'm not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals.
I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Then we are told that "About that time...
...Jesus came up from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River."
This is one of the most radical things ever.
Think about this for a second.
The One through Whom the world came into being...
...decides to come down into our wilderness as a human being.
And rather than deciding to be "set apart on some pedestal way above the rest of us sinners" He takes part in the same baptism as us.
In Jesus, God decides to identify with human beings--with you and me--without a bunch of fanfare...
...without a parade...
...without CNN or FOX NEWS covering the event...
...without applause, bright lights and loud music...
...without all the trappings that go along with narcissism and ego...
...Jesus goes down into the muddy waters of the Jordan River along with a whole bunch of human sinners--desperate helpless folks--and is baptized with all the rest.
And in doing so, God shows God's humility, God shows God's solidarity with you and me--with every human being who has ever lived.
Could there be any better "NEWS"???!!!
One thing we see throughout the entire New Testament is that Jesus never asks us to do anything that He is not willing to do Himself.
During His time on earth, Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, but was without sin.
During His time on earth, Jesus battled the wild beasts of the wilderness--the devil who prowls around like a roaring lion looking to devour us all--and Jesus defeated him!!!!!!!
Jesus is our trailblazer.
Jesus is our example to live by.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth, the Life.
Jesus is our salvation.