Prepare to Listen. Messiah will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
Prayerfully Read Mark 1:4-8
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.
7He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
John had one purpose in life: to identify and announce the promised Messiah. The people he preached to anticipated that Messiah would rescue them from Roman oppression and restore the nation to peace and prosperity. Perhaps they expected a call to arms, or an invitation to participate in the overthrow of their oppressor. But John didn’t have a political agenda. There was no call to arms. Instead, he proclaimed “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
Imagine a well-equipped army invading your country today. Then imagine God sending a messenger who, instead of calling you to take up arms and fight, calls you to repent; instead of offering victory over the invading army, offers forgiveness of sins. If you can imagine that you can enter the story of John the Baptizer. The Messiah can’t be squeezed into a mold of the people’s making, not then, not now. To receive Jesus as Messiah, all our concepts of him must be abandoned. Repentance literally means to change your mind about your beliefs and behavior. It means giving up all expectations of Messiah, and being open to a Messiah (Jesus), who is often nothing like what we imagine. Be prepared to be challenged and encounter Jesus as he truly is, not as we wish him to be. He doesn’t fit into our molds, will not conform to our expectations. He calls us, not to violent overthrow of our enemy, but to repentance for the forgiveness of our sins.
What surprised you in this familiar story from Mark?
Your way, Lord Jesus, is a radical one demanding that we practice changing our minds and thus our ways. Give me courage and integrity to this liberal way of living that sets people free. Amen.
Live obediently. Practice repentance, a willingness to change your mind.