The Baptized Jesus
This week’s text is Mark 1:4-11. This overlaps with the text from a few weeks ago. This is the story of the wild and crazy John the Baptist out in the wilderness wearing camel’s hair and eating locusts and wild honey.
The focus this time around is on Jesus and what He is up to. First, that John is baptizing at all is a seditious thing indeed. This is a clear threat to the established temple authorities in Jerusalem. As John grows more popular, the temple authorities grow more worried and angrier. That alone makes it notable that Jesus would willingly become a part of this challenge.
The other notable thing that is happening in this scene is that Jesus is submitting to baptism at all. I mean, He is Lord after all. Yet, this does not stop Jesus from humbling Himself and submitting to a baptism. This would not be the last time that Jesus humbles Himself on our behalf. Even Paul recognizes this in Jesus as he writes in Philippians 2:6 “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage”. All of this is a recognition of the essential humanity of Jesus. Baptism is a thing humans do, so why would Jesus not do it?
Jesus Knows What We Know
The main takeaway from all of this is that right here at the beginning of His ministry Mark shows Jesus engaging in those things that humans do. He submits to baptism. This baptism serves as a foundation for His earthly ministry. When Jesus is challenged about where His authority came from, He throws back in their face John’s baptism (see Mark 11 28-29). This event also sets the stage for Jesus living and being fully human. Not only does Jesus experience baptism just like other people, but He also experiences everything that humans do. Nothing that we go through, good or bad, is alien to God because of the humanity of His Son.
As we go forward in the story we will see Jesus at work, at play, angry, sad, and even weeping and grieving. In short, we will see in Jesus the full range of human emotions and activities. This is crucial to remember as Jesus works His way ever closer to Jerusalem and the awfulness of the Cross (yet followed by the glory of the resurrection). He will as a dutiful son, submit all of Himself to the Father. All of this starts here with the humble act of presenting Himself to John for a baptism, like everyone else.
Obviously, this passage also highlights that God identifies Jesus as His Son and therefore the true Messiah (Verse 11). This reinforces that Jesus is the one true Son of God, His life death and resurrection placing within us the faith that puts us right with God. Yet, He was also sent to be fully human and to show us how to live in sacrificial love to one another. That is, this text serves as a foundation to teach us to believe in Jesus, then obey as He did.
Praise Be to God