Study in Mark’s Gospel. Presentation 02. The Baptism Of Jesus Chap 1v9-13. Presentation 02. Introduction.
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Can you think of any one event in your life, which has taken you by surprise more than any other? Something that has blown your mind? For many it is difficult to select one major surprise event which stands in a league all of its own.
John the Baptist did not have that problem. The greatest surprise of his life took place when Jesus asked to be baptised. John could not believe his ears. Jesus was the last person in the world who should be asking for baptism. For John's was a baptism of repentance - it was for people who had turned their backs on God and had broken his law and rebelled against him.
And as far as John was concerned everyone except Jesus could have stood in that baptism queue. Jesus was John's cousin. John knew his character. He had observed him over the years and there was nothing in Jesus' life that he could fault, no sinful action, no unkind word. Matthew tells us that John initially refused, saying to Jesus, ' “I need to be baptized by you’ Matt.3.13. John’s surprise was beyond measure.
As we look at these verses we will note:
The obedience of the Son
The provision of the Spirit
The approval of the Father
The temptation of the Enemy
In the business world, a representative is bound up with the people or company
that he represents. And he can, by his performance, bring great benefit or, significant loss to his company.
The Bible encourages us to see Adam as the representative head of the human
race. He was called to a life of obedience but instead chose to disobey. Now his disobedience not only affected him it affected the whole human race whom he represented. His disobedience and failure had a catastrophic effect on humanity.
Jesus, at his baptism, presented himself as the representative head of a new humanity. He made it clear that he was not to be looked upon as a private person but as one whose performance would benefit a new humanity, i.e. the men and women who would put their trust in him.
The catechism asks, 'What is the chief duty of man?'
And answers, 'The duty which God requires of man is obedience to his revealed will.'
Jesus consecrated his life to a pattern of obedience. As
our representative he came to give God a life of perfect obedience, while also assuming the responsibility for his people's disobedience. At the very outset of his public ministry the shadow of the cross fell upon him from which there would be no turning back.
When Jesus took on the job of ‘company representative’ of this new humanity he knew that it would lead to the cross. But would resolutely refuse to be deflected from his goal of obedience.
We must try to discover just what rich dividends his obedience would pay. Paul touches upon this theme writing to the Romans; ‘For just as through the disobedience of one man [Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man [Christ] the many will be made righteous.’ Rom. 5v19
Immediately Jesus enters his life's work with all its demands, we read that the Holy Spirit came upon him in the form of a dove.
The question is asked, 'If Jesus was divine was there any need of this anointing of the Holy Spirit to equip him for his ministry?’We need to remind ourselves that Jesus possessed two natures, he was both God and man and in his human nature he was capable of being strengthened. Jesus recognised his need of the help and empowering of the Holy Spirit to perform the work to which he had been called.
Jesus was not left to engage in his costly ministry unaided. In response to his public intimation to live a life of obedience to God’s will, heaven responded by sending the Holy Spirit to equip him for that task. There is a vitally important lesson to be grasped. God does not send us out in his service without equipping us for the task to which we
have been called. After his resurrection as Jesus commissioned his disciples for their task of world evangelism he told them to wait in Jerusalem until they received the power of the Holy Spirit. They were to wait for his coronation gift given at Pentecost. God has not called us to service
without empowering us for the task.
A further aspect of this scene is recorded by Luke and captured in Botticelli's painting. Jesus is at prayer immediately before the descent of the Spirit. Why record this detail? Luke wants to show the relationship between prayer and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Enduementfor service was given in response to prayer. Jesus acknowledged his need.
This same relationship between prayer and the anointing of the Spirit for service is found in Acts 4v23ff. The apostles had been intimidated by earthly powers intent on bringing church growth to a standstill? The church brought the whole issue to God in prayer. And what happened? cf. 4v31…
If both Jesus and the early church were conscious of their need of the Spirit’s anointing to engage in service, then are we less needy? Sadly, we
often, engage in God's work confident in our
own strength and ability, leaving the Spirit of God
to sit on the side-lines of our lives. The tremendous resources of the Godhead are left untapped.
Any attempt to engage in Christian work, which does not pray for the empowering of the Spirit or, contain a profound sense of dependence upon him can be compared to an attempt to launch a space probe with a peashooter. It is doomed to failure.
All three persons of the Godhead are involved in Jesus’ baptism. Here the Father rends the heavens and says, 'You are my Son whom I love; with you I am well pleased.' Now these words are a fusion of two important O.T. passages.
First Ps.2v7 which is part of a messianic Psalm, where God addresses the Messiah as his 'Son'. God is saying, 'He's mine he belongs to my family.'
If the first part of this sentence from heaven identifies Jesus’ person then the second part identifies his ministry. In Isaiah 42v1ff God speaks of a chosen servant, on whom he will put his Spirit and whose destiny is to suffer abuse and opposition and to eventually die for the sins of his people [Isa. 53].
Christian service is costly. There may be times when you feel you are not truly appreciated, or when you feel isolated and bereft of human understanding, or, when you seem to be hitting your head off a wall of opposition.
But, when we are doing the work to which God has
called us, then we can expect the God who tore
open the curtains of heaven to encourage Jesus, to
find a way to encourage our hearts and ensure us
of his approval! Rarely an audible voice from heaven
but God speaking through his Word, or through
the ministry of the Holy Spirit within our hearts,
or an encouraging word spoken by a fellow
believer. We hear God saying,
'Go on, I am with you all the way'.
Someone has said that, 'Temptations, like British trains, arrive when you least expect them.' But some temptations are entirely predictable. Realising this helps us to be on our guard. When did this fierce temptation assail Jesus? It was immediately after his baptism, when he embraced a path of costly obedience. Without examining the wilderness temptation of Jesus in detail, notice that [Matt.4v1-11] they are designed to;
cast doubt upon his identity, 'If you are the Son of God...'
win support for his cause by gratuitous sensationalism, 'Throw yourself down from the highest point of the temple...‘
Suggest a way of gaining his objective without costly cross-bearing, 'all this I will give you if you bow down and worship me.‘
Note that after the struggle Jesus was spiritually comforted!
How do we apply this? Our fiercest temptations often follow our greatest blessings or, a fresh step of consecration. Consecrate your life afresh to God or, respond to his
call to Christian service and temptation is inevitable!
It may cause you to question your identity as a child
of God, or your call to service or suggest compromises
for achieving your goal. There is an enemy who is
determined to deflect you from great usefulness in the kingdom of God.
The spiritual law of cause and effect outlined here, not
only operates in the lives of Christians, but in those whose interest in God has recently been awakened, and who are close to entering the kingdom.
These verses should produce in our hearts a tremendous sense of thanksgiving. Jesus, the representative head of a new humanity, did for us what we could not do for ourselves. In the course of his public ministry he refused to be deflected from the way of the cross.
In addition, our hearts should be motivated to wholehearted obedience. God equips us with his Holy Spirit and finds ways of encouraging us when the cost seems unbearable.
We must grow in dependence upon the Holy Spirit and guard against temptation designed to deflect us from our course of obedience lest we find ourselves caught up in one of Satan’s traffic jams, where no spiritual progress is made.