Advent According to St. Mark (02) - The Baptism of Jesus

Date: 12/10/2017
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Type: Sunday Sermon
Organization: All Saints
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Mark 1:1–8 - The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY; 3 THE VOICE OF ONE CRYING IN THE WILDERNESS, ‘MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT.’” 4 John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. 6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey. 7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. 8 “I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Advent Story in Mark - In Mark there are no birth narratives (as in Matthew or Luke) and no “prologue” (the Word was God) as in John. It simple begins (v1) with “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” and briefly explains that John the Baptist came first, then Jesus is baptized (vv9ff), then Jesus begins preaching in Galilee (vv14). Hence, Mark’s Gospel shows Jesus as a person of action (e.g, euthus “immediately” used 40x in Mark).

The Advent Baptism in Mark - John appeared in the wilderness “preaching a baptism of repentance” (v4). This is Mark’s emphasis. He announced the message of the nearness of the kingdom of the rule of God from heaven. The prophets, especially Isaiah, foretold of One who would be the “Messenger.” John grooms himself in the style of Elijah. “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.’ And he said, ‘It is Elijah the Tishbite’” (2Kgs 1:8). Just as in Elijah’s day, people needed to recognize the corruption of their system/temple. It is unlikely that these baptisms were personal immersions since, “And all the country of Judea was going out to him” (v5). John led a remnant Israel “beyond the Jordan” in “a symbolic exodus from Jerusalem and Judea” (Colin Brown). John compares his own work of water baptism with Messiah’s baptism with the Holy Spirit, fulfilled in the coming Pentecost (v8; Acts 2).

Gregg Strawbridge Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more