Summary: Jesus’ baptism was a declaration of what he was about to do. At the time of his baptism, his eyes were already fixed upon the cross, that we might have cleansing and new birth.
Baptism of the Lord 2006
Dr. Paul G. Humphrey
For audio version go to http://www.forministry.com/USTNUMETCVFUMC/Sermon.dsp?sermonsite_action=view_sermon&sermonsite_sermonid=9246
1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of
repentance for the remission of sins.
1:5 And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of
Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan,
confessing their sins.
1:6 And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin
about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;
1:7 And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me,
the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and
1:8 I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you
with the Holy Ghost.
1:9 And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth
of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
1:10 And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens
opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:
1:11 And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved
Son, in whom I am well pleased.
On January 2, 2006, TALLMANSVILLE, W.Va., there was an explosion in the Sago Mine in West Virginia. Initial reports claimed that one man had been found dead, and that 12 men were trapped. A false report came to family members who had gathered in a local church saying that the twelve men were found alive, when in reality, only one had been found alive, the rest had died. We later found that the men who died in this accident had been alive for many hours before they died, and that they had written notes to their family members. In some of the first note released to the public, in addition to expressing love for family, one of the miners had written “not so bad, just going to sleep” and “see you on the other side.”
I was amazed to see such a selfless note. The man was saying, “don’t worry about me, dying is not so bad, I am not suffering.” He was also expressing his faith that Jesus has made a way for his loved ones to see him on the other side. If you knew that you only had a short time to live, what would you write in a note? I hope that each and every one of you would be able to say, “See you soon.” The truth of the matter is that we each have a limited time left on this earth. When do we start dieing? As soon as we are born we start dieing. Sin separated us from God and eternal life with him. But Jesus has made a way, and this is what we express in baptism. Let us look at our Scripture passages a bit closer this morning.
I. In the wilderness of life we stand in need of repentance and redemption.
Our Scripture passage today opens with “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4).
I have heard theologians propose that prophets would live in the wilderness to avoid contact with the corruption of civilization, and the temptations that go with it. Yet, in the book of Mark, the wilderness is set forth as a place of testing and temptation. It was thought that evil spirits lurked in midst of the wilderness. And, right after these verses, right after Jesus’ baptism we see him going where to be tempted? We see Jesus himself going into the wilderness to be tempted.
In the Old Testament people who were ritually unclean, a person that had touched a dead animal had to stay outside of the camp, far from the Ark of the Covenant. There is a picture of God’s presence associated with the Ark, in the Holy of Holies, then there was an inner court, and an outer court, and then the camp. And if you were ritually unclean it took time plus washing to allow your entrance back into the camp. Jesus himself even used a similar illustration in parables saying, “they shall be cast into outer darkness.”
It may very well have been that John had spent a period of time in the desert as part of a declaration and testing for his ministry much like the Essenes practiced. We know for sure that the wilderness was a place of testing for Jesus. Whatever the case, he came preaching repentance.
Can you command someone to repent? Sure you can, but a person can only repent as a result of their own heart. Repentance is not something that we decide to have. It is God given. Repentance is regret and turning. Sometimes you see criminals who regret getting caught.