Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Baptism of Repentance

Reflections on Mark 1:4

John's baptism was a baptism of repentance which made it different from Jewish washings in a second way. 

Jewish washings were prompted by a desire to purify oneself from uncleanness caused by contact with unclean animals, unclean objects, unclean people, or dead bodies. Even cups and pots and copper vessels, which make no moral choices, could become "unclean" and need to be washed according to Jewish traditions (Mark 7:4). Jewish washings were intended to purify them from any uncleanness in the environment which may have defiled them.

John's baptism had nothing to do with things which defiled a person from without, but with sin which defiled a person from within. It was prompted by a recognition of one's sinfulness and a desire for cleansing from that sin. Hence, John's baptism was a baptism based on repentance or prompted by repentance. Those who came to John sought God's mercy by confessing their sin and moral bankruptcy.  Again, this made John's baptism unique, different from Jewish washings which preceded it.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

John the Baptist

Reflections on Mark 1:4

The messenger God sent to prepare the way for Jesus the Messiah appeared in a most unusual way - baptizing in the wilderness. The baptism he preached was not Jewish baptism for Jews did not baptize others but only themselves. Rather, John was sent by the God of heaven to baptize those who came to him in repentance (John 1:33; Luke 7:29). Because people did not baptize themselves, they could not imagine that it was their own efficacy which obtained whatever benefits resulted from baptism. The efficacy was of God who was working through his messenger whom he had sent to prepare them for the coming of the Messiah.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Preparations for a Presidential Visit

Reflections on Mark 1:2-3

When the President of the United States travels to a city, extensive preparations must be made before his arrival. All commercial and private flights into the airport must be diverted to other airports from before his arrival until his departure from the airport. The President's route through town must be identified, all garbage cans and mailboxes removed, and every manhole examined. Every building he will enter must be inspected and spaces provided for meetings, photo ops, travel companions, and his own personal privacy. Rooms must be completely cleared and inspected to insure safety and security from electronic eavesdropping. Rooms and communication networks for the White House press core must be provided. People who will be permitted to see the President must be identified, checked, and issued tickets. Preparations are extensive so that the President can be assured that he will accomplish his goals during his visit.

God's plans for the arrival of his Son on the earth were no less extensive. He sent his Son to Judea and Galilee in the "fullness of time" (Galatians 4:4) so that he might accomplish God's eternal purpose. Before his Son's arrival, He sent a messenger ahead to prepare his way and enlist others in making straight paths for him. The appearance of his Son was a big event. The success of his mission had to be insured.