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Gospel of Mark 1: 4-11 (NIV)
4 And so John came, baptising in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt round his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 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. 8 I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. 10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Two weeks ago we considered the clear reference to the Trinity, in the Gospel according to Luke (1: 26-38), when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would give birth to a son and name him Jesus. Here, in the first chapter of the Gospel according to Mark, we see another clear reference to the Trinity, as if Mark was determined to herald the commencement of the public ministry of Jesus with an unambiguous statement of the intimate relationship shared between the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Son.
- John’s baptism was purificatory in nature, involving water. His was not a baptism with the Holy Spirit (verse 8). Baptism with the Holy Spirit was the unique prerogative of the Son.
- John’s baptism was of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. His was not a “Christian” baptism in that the name of Jesus, the Christ, was not invoked. Even after John had consented to Jesus’ insistence that John should baptise the Son of God “to fulfil all righteousness” (Matthew 3: 15), the nature of John’s baptism did not change.
- John’s baptism hearkened to the times of the remembered prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. Though significant for those who experienced a complete change of heart, his baptism was heraldic and therefore very different from the epoch-making baptism of the One whose way was being prepared by John.
Even today there are those who follow John rather than Jesus. This indicates how easily we humans may be confused or distracted by the deceits of the Evil One. Although John expressed clearly his role as preparing for the Messiah who was to follow, some people prefer to trust in John rather than in the One who, on that significant occasion of his own baptism, was acclaimed by God to be His Son, whom He loves and with whom He is well pleased.
Where do you place your trust? Is it in God’s beloved Son with whom the Father is well pleased?