Summary: As God lead the Israelites through the wilderness and the waters of the Red Sea to the promised land; so, God can lead us through the waters of baptism into life lived under the power of the Holy Spirit.
4 – 11 / Twice Baptized
Intro: When I get my friendly little reminder from Betsy Cooper that it is time to do my article for the newsletter, I sometimes sit in front of the computer thinking, “What the heck am I going to write about this month?” --- Getting that first sentence typed is always the hardest thing to do. Some published authors will tell you that getting the beginning just right is the most important thing and it sticks with you. --- Mark was no different.
I. VS, 1 – “The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” --- Mark sets the tone of his work with that very first sentence.
A. First, Mark informs us that this is a GOSPEL (euangelion, kerygma) --- In the NT, the word EUANGELION is never used for a written document, but is the comprehensive term for the good news of God’s saving act in Christ Jesus, communicated in a variety of images and concepts.
B. The modern English word GOSPEL is derived from the Old English GODSPEL, a combination of god (good) and spel or spiel (news, tidings.)
C. So what was this “good news” that Mark wanted to share? To add credence to his story, Mark quotes Isaiah, the most beloved prophet (Isaiah 40:3) introducing his “story” with the news that the prophecy has been fulfilled in John.
II. Now that Mark has set the scene and authenticated his story, he now begins to tell the details of the story. VS. 4 – And so John came, baptizing in the desert region . . .”
A. I find this verse captivating. As Moses had called his people to follow him our into the wilderness, John calls them to back to their beginnings with God.
B. Moses called the people on a pilgrimage through the waters of the Red Sea to freedom from Egyptian slavery. --- Now, John was calling them to the wilderness to pass through the waters of baptism to freedom from their slavery to sin. Here in the wilderness they would be solely dependent on God.
C. God’s good news begins in the wilderness. Some of us are still in the wilderness, that desolate place in our lives where we deal with the crooked places and valleys. --- dying marriage / dying loved one / wayward child / unfaithful spouse / joblessness / poor health / --- The good news begins in that wilderness.
III. In 2004 a tsunami hit South-East Asia and snuffed out 250,000 lives, doing billions of dollars of damage.
A. Have you ever thought that the waters of baptism and the waters of a tsunami have something in common?
B. In parts of India, the 2004 tsunami unearthed previously unknown archaeological sights revealing what had been hidden for hundreds of years.
C. VSS. 9 -11 “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.’”
Conclu: The destructive power of a tsunami pales in comparison to the constructive power of baptism. With a few handfuls of water all heaven broke loose and God revealed Jesus to be his Son, the world’s Savior. And with a similar experience at our baptism, heaven opened at our baptism as God revealed that we sinners are God’s children. Since we are children of God, we must turn from our petty arguments, our pride, our stubbornness and our wilderness to live the good news. God did not leave the Israelites in the wilderness; but came through the wilderness with them into the promised land. Christ Jesus leads the way for us. We, too, can be twice baptized, once with water and once with the Holy Spirit, that we might live fully and completely as a child of God.