Last week we started a summer long series on the Gospel of Mark, where we’re taking it section by section and laying the ground work for the last aspect of the vision that we’ll be talking about in the winter time. Now as we started last week, I know that I bombard you with a lot of information. How Mark was the writer of the Gospel and how he served under both Peter and Paul, two giants of the faith in the early Church. I shared with you the things about John the Baptist, and the three parts of his message. And finally I shared with you the fact that we are to be like John, people who point back to Jesus.
But it was to help us begin to understand what we’re getting ourselves into. And introduction as it were, to the why of the Gospel of Mark. Why was it written, from who’s perspective are we coming from, the connection it is trying to make between the Old and New Testaments. And the fact that the calling that John had on his life was to point people to Jesus, is a parallel calling that should be a part of every Christian’s life.
Now as we get in to the passage today, understand that we will be covering a couple of deep theological ideas. But we’re not going into too much depth, just because this isn’t the time to do it.
Now as we get into Mark chapter 1 verse 9, let’s go back and remember where we are. Right now in Mark’s writing, we’re out in the wilderness of Judea. People from all over the countryside are coming out to see this Old Testament prophet named John. Rich and poor, religious and non-religious people are coming out to hear what this man has to say. And John is telling people to repent, that means to confess sin, those things are not want God wants in our lives, and to turn away from the sin to follow God’s way of doing things. Then be baptized with water. To this he adds, that there is someone coming. Someone so important that John isn’t fit to tie his shoes. Last week we talked about how John’s statement of not being worthy enough to tie the shoes of the coming person, points to a person that is greater than all of the Old Testament prophets that came before him. Even though John is called the greatest person ever born later on in Scripture (John 3:30), this person that is to come, is still greater.
Now, we’re here. We’re at the point where the greater person is coming. Let’s dive into Mark chapter 1 verse 9.
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just 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.”
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Now there are four parts to this verse. The reason for Jesus’ baptism, the voice from heaven, the temptation of Jesus, and the reason for it all. Let’s take each part as they come in the verse.
Going back into verse 9 it says, “9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.”
I hope the question that comes to your mind is, “Why is Jesus getting baptized?” This should be a logical question that we have, because in the previous section we talked about how John’s message was of repentance and baptism. People would repent, confessing and turning away from their sin, and then would be dunked in water as a sign of their repentance. So why is Jesus getting baptized? Does this mean that he had something to repent of? Does that mean Jesus had sinned?
These questions are natural, and are answerable. Let’s take a step back and ask the question what was the purpose of John’s baptism. Wasn’t it used as a symbol. Last week we talked about how the baptism that John was doing didn’t cleanse people of their sin, rather it was a symbol of their desire to turn away from sin. So then, why did Jesus need to be baptized? If not for turning away from sin?
The answer actually comes from another Gospel. In the Gospel of Matthew, the interaction between John and Jesus comes out more. It says in Matthew 3:13, “13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’
“15 Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented.”
Even John had our question of, why does Jesus need to be baptized? In response to John’s protests of the baptism, Jesus says it’s a fulfillment. But how? Well, Jesus is said to be our example (1 Peter 2:20-22). If Jesus doesn’t do something why should we? Jesus is baptized, because he is showing us that we need to follow him in baptism. Baptism is a symbol that connects us to him, and by being baptized, we connect ourselves to him that much more. So Jesus getting baptized is a symbol for us, that just like him, we need to participate in. And not for him to be cleanse of sin, just like when we get baptized we are not cleansed by the water.
Now, let’s move on to the second part. Verse 10 says, “10 Just 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.”
We’re going to tackle the Spirit aspect of this verse all at once, so, for now, let’s set that aside. Instead, let’s focus on the voice. This voice is important, because the question we should ask is, who’s voice is it? Now if we say God, we’re only partially right, because it’s more specifically the Father. See, through Jesus’ teachings, he introduces a concept that there is the Father, Son, and Spirit. And in this passage, at the beginning of Mark’s writing, which again is the earliest of the four Gospels found in the Bible, we see all three.
The Son comes out of the water setting the example for us, the Spirit descends onto the Son, just like the Spirit descended on the called ones of the Old testament, and the Father speaks of his pleasure with the Son. This pleasure is important, because it speaks again to the fact that Jesus was not being baptized for sins he had committed, but because this was in keeping with the plan that was laid out for his life.
Here we see, what is called the Triune God. One God, three distinct persons. All of who are God, divine and cannot be separated, but all distinct to where each one is not the other.
This teaching of the Trinity is, in my opinion, the hardest teaching of Christianity. And in anyway I try to describe it to you, it can easily become false. Let’s just leave it at this point, one God is in the passage, the Father, Son and the Spirit, all one, yet distinct. Let’ move onto the Spirit.
In verse 12 it says, “12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
So the Spirit of descends onto Jesus, as I said before, this is in keeping with the Old Testament way of God sending his Spirit onto a person for a specific task. Now at this point, both John and Jesus have the Spirit of God on them. But the two take different paths. John continues his work, while Jesus is sent into the wild part of the desert. There are lions, bears and other things that could tear a person a part in the ild. And it’s in this setting of isolation, danger, and the low access to necessities, that Jesus is tempted.
We’re told in other Gospel’s what kind of temptations are presented to Jesus at this time, but for now, they’re not as important as to the reason and outcome of the temptation.
The reason for the temptation was again for our benefit. In the book of Hebrews chapter 4 verse 15 it says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”
The point of Jesus being tempted was so that he would understand us and the things we go through, and we would understand that he has experienced all the base things that all of us deal with. The difference is he didn’t sin when faced with them.
Now in order for us to get the outcome of all of this, let’s connect all these seemingly separate pieces together.
First, John pointed to Jesus being God, by his understanding of not being good enough to tie Jesus’ shoes, nor wanting to baptize Jesus.
Second, Jesus, being God, didn’t need to be baptized but did it for our sake, we see this in both John’s response to Jesus and the pleasure statement of the Father.
Third, Jesus was sent by the Spirit to be tempted in isolation, in danger, and without access to his physical needs being met, because it shows us that Jesus has dealt with things that we have.
This all leads us into the fourth part of this passage, the reason for it all, and what we’re supposed to take away today. This is brought out fully from another Gospel. When all of this had been said and done, about 40 days after Jesus had been baptized by John, it says this in the Gospel of Luke 4:14, “14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,”
This is a huge reality that most of us have a tendency to miss in our lives. First off, we tend to look at Jesus and say, of course he didn’t sin, he’s God. Or, of course he could face down the temptations of Satan, he’s God. Or, of course he could do all these things, he is God.
And if we do try to follow Jesus by doing the things he did, like baptism, we have a tendency to try to please God with our actions and our good works. We try to fight against our own sin, trying to overcome all that is messed up with ourselves. But if we miss this tiny phrase about the purpose of all of it, it leads us down the path of trying to do this Christian lie all on our own.
But here is the thing that we tend to miss. We miss it by saying Jesus could do all of it because he was God, and we miss it by trying to follow Jesus in our own power. See Jesus didn’t do this on his own, he did it in the power of the Spirit.
And this is what we have a tendency to miss. We try to do the things God has called us to do, in our own power. But that’s not how it was meant to be. We were meant to be empowered by God himself through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Sin isn’t supposed to be overcome in our lives by our sheer will, it is to be overcome by the Spirit living through us. We are not to fight against Satan on our own, but by relying on the Spirit of God waring on behalf of us. We are not to be in the wilderness facing down the lions, bears, isolation, and lack of needs being met on our own, we are to let loose of needing to control everything and to allow the Holy Spirit to do his job and work in us and through us.
If Jesus is truly our example, then let him be our example. He relied on the Spirit, and so should we. And by relying on the Spirit, I mean he let the Spirit of God work through him to bring up Scripture to fight against Satan. He relied on the Spirit, by trusting God in his time of hunger and danger and isolation. And because he relied on the Spirit to work through him, he was empowered to go into his work, and to make his way to the cross.
So today, my challenge is this, first off are you allowing the Spirit of God to live and work through you? If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, the Spirit has been given to you. He lives within you. Have you hampered his work to overcome sin in your life? Have you been allowing him to guide and direct your path? Or maybe you want the Spirit to work more, to do more. Maybe you’re struggling with something and you want to unshackle the Spirit to take care of it.
Wherever you are reading this, call the pastor of your church and request the elders to anoint you with oil. Seek their prayers and laying on of hands, that you may seek to allow the Spirit to live through you. Seek God to conform you more to him, by being more like Jesus. Not living by your own power, but in full power of the Spirit. Let us not be people that merely say we follow Christ, but with every step, put into our lives the things that Jesus did.
Now Lord, give us the strength to not be our own. Let us be yours, denying ourselves and embracing you. Live through us by your Spirit. Guide and direct us wherever you would have us go. So that we may be more like Jesus today, than we were yesterday. Amen.