Summary: Sometimes after we experience some of our greatest spiritual victories, we’re faced with our greatest spiritual challenges.
This is the second message from the Gospel According to Mark. According to strong tradition, it could be called the Gospel According to Simon Peter as told to Mark.
In this message we’re going to look at the baptism of Jesus. Through the years, I’ve had some interesting baptism experiences. Mike and I have had the joy of baptizing people in the Black Sea off the coast of Yalta in the Crimea. We had to time the baptism to coincide with the big waves to help lift the person up. I will be baptizing folks in the Jordan River next week, which is always a thrill.
When I was a young pastor, I used to just lower people back in the water, no matter how large they were. Early on in my ministry, I had just lowered a really large guy into the water when I realized I couldn’t lift him up with one arm. So, I reached around with my other arm to help pull him up. That was a mistake. At that precise moment gravity took over and I lost my balance and soon I was underwater with the guy. I was wearing fishing waders, and they filled up with water. I like the way we do it now; we have a simple platform people can sit on in the baptistery!
Mark 1:4-13. “And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: ‘After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.”
Jesus’ baptism went smoothly. In this passage there are three important episodes in the life of Jesus. He undergoes baptism, there’s a voice from heaven, and then Jesus is tempted by the devil. Each one of these experiences has a personal application to our lives.
I. JESUS WAS BAPTIZED AS AN EXAMPLE FOR US
We read, “Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” The message of John the Baptist was preaching was simple. He said, “Repent, you sinners, and turn to God. Give proof of your repentance by being baptized. Of all the individuals who have ever walked on planet earth, Jesus is the only One who wasn’t a sinner, and didn’t need to repent. There was really no need for Him to be baptized. So why did He?
We find the answer in Matthew’s account. “Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’” (Matthew 3:14-15) Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. That means He did it because it was the right thing to do. He was setting an example for us. Baptism is an important part of the gospel. Jesus launched His ministry by being baptized, and His last command to His disciples was to go into all nations making disciples and baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The first message from the newborn church on the Day of Pentecost was, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of the Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) And on that day, 3,000 new believers were baptized. Because baptism is important, let’s notice three things the Bible teaches concerning baptism.
A. The sequence of baptism: believe and be baptized
The sequence is that you repent, believe, and then you are baptized. Baptism is for people who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. I certainly don’t want to be critical of any Christian group, but if you were baptized as an infant, you have not experienced Bible baptism. It’s certainly not your fault, because you didn’t have a choice in the matter. And I admire your parents for their desire to want you to be dedicated to God at an early age, but that’s not baptism. We dedicate newborns and their parents do God, but we don’t use water.