Monday, January 12, 2015

Jesus Takes the Way

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; [4] with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:4-11 (ESV)

“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased”. Thus speaks the Father upon the baptism of his Son by John the Baptist, at the beginning of Jesus earthly ministry. It is a curious event. John himself says he is not worthy to even wash feet of Jesus, much less baptize him. That was the meaning behind not untying the strap of his sandal.  Jesus has no sins to repent of, and doesn’t need to be forgiven. Yet, as Christ begins his ministry here, bowing to that of John’s, Mark introduces Jesus to the scene with no introduction, but he lets this event, and the others that follow explain who Jesus is.
So what is it that is happening here? It’s the passing of the baton between the forerunner of the Messiah and the Messiah himself. Jesus is here. John had come to prepare the way. Now Jesus comes to walk the way, and that way leads to the cross.  This will be the connecting point between John’s baptism, and the baptism that Jesus institutes after his resurrection. They aren’t the same. John himself is adamant that his baptism is but water, and Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit. John’s baptism was about repentance for sins, Jesus is about forgiveness, sanctification, the giving of the Holy Spirit and Faith. But it is John’s baptism that anoints Jesus for the sacrifice on the cross that starts Jesus on the road to the baptism of fire under which he had to go, that you and I could be saved. That baptized into Christ, we would be buried with him into his death, that we might be raised with him to the glory of the Father.
No, he doesn’t have any sin of his own, He doesn’t have any need for forgiveness. But his Father has sent John to prepare the way with a baptism of repentance, where sinners of all walks confessed their sins in the Jordan at the preaching of John, adulterers and drunkards, gossipers and thieves, revilers and liars. And now Jesus identifies with them, the prostitutes and tax collectors, the soldiers of Rome, the everyday people struggling to make ends meet, who would be resentful of employers, and employers who suffered greed.  Here was a man without sin, but loved sinners. Here he comes and joins them in the waters, to take your sins, all the sins that had been confessed in these waters. Now Jesus says, “these sins are mine.” With this baptism he took your sins, so that with his baptism you could receive his righteousness.

Now he takes these sins, with him on the rest of this journey, his time spent tempted in the wilderness. His time spent preaching in Galilee. Jesus would carry these sins with him that he could die for them on the cross that he could bury them in his grave, that he could rise, and give the world his baptism for you and for your children. That he could baptize sinners with the Holy Spirit and sanctify you with his faith, wash you clean with forgiveness, reconcile you to the Father that you could walk in the newness of life that he has given you. The newness of life that you live now, when confessing your sins, you live by his forgiveness, live in his word, and join sinners as Jesus did and does, eating and drinking with them at his table, the New Testament in his blood. 

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