Part 4 Mark 1:9-11
The heading for this section in my Bible is the Baptism of the Servant. I find this quite fitting for the life of Christ and even his death upon the cross is all about Him being a faithful Servant
9 “It came to pass in those days . . ..” Which days would this be? Of course, in the days that John the Baptizer was beside the Jordan River, preaching, and baptizing people into the baptism of repentance.
“ . . . in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee.” Mark does not describe who this person named Jesus is, only stating, as if we already know, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee. Interesting approach for a book that is written for the Gentile to help explain to them who Jesus was.
Perhaps this was because the Gospel of Mark is the story of Jesus as seen through the eyes of Peter. Since Peter had no knowledge of Christ before His baptism, perhaps he did not find it necessary to explain anything about Jesus’ early life. Whatever the reason, Peter, through Mark makes the point of saying that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee. When He came to John for baptism, there is no interaction between Jesus and John other than John baptized Jesus in the Jordan river.
Let’s state the obvious question. Christians believe that Christ lived a sinless life. At least I hope this is what we all believe! If Christ lived a sinless life, then why would there be a need for Him to become baptized by John?
Perhaps this has puzzled you as it did me. Christ is our example and everything he did upon earth during his ministry was an example of what a Christians should be doing. If we look at his life in this way, then he did not receive baptism as a confession of guilt on His own account. He received baptism because He identified Himself with sinners. By identifying Himself with sinners he showed us the proper steps that we are to take. For the Christian, baptism is a step on the process of salvation, and the rest of Christ’s ministry on earth is to show or give us an example of the type of work Christians should be doing. His life of suffering, His patient endurance after His baptism was also an example to us.
How do we know that heaven accepted Christ’s baptism as an example that we all should follow?
Verse 10 says; “And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove.” The heavens open or as the New King James version states it “the heavens parting” is a very mild way of stating what the Greek word implied, for the Greek word was “rend asunder” all heaven erupted in song and praise, the sky was filled with the Father’s glory as the Father sent the Holy Spirit down upon Jesus. The Holy Spirit came in the form of a dove and rested with Jesus.
Verse 11, “Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” God the Father spoke to Jesus telling Jesus how pleased he was with Him in giving to us the example of His life and he was pleased that Christ’s earthly ministry as the Messiah was about to begin.
One final point before we close this post. I have heard several well-meaning Christians point to this text and say, “See Christ was not divine for God called him “His Son” which imply that Christ from the very beginning was a created being.” Not so fast. Let me explain this as simply as possible. In the New Testament there are at least three references to the pre-incarnate (pre-birth) Christ being the creator of this world. John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-3 and finally Colossians 1:15,16. The passage in Colossians also implies the misunderstanding that some have found in Mark 1:11 in that it calls Christ out as being created or the first born of God as Paul points out in Colossians.
This will be a very simplistic answer to a very complicated question. But God never intended for his word to be so complicated that we cannot find the answers. In the beginning when God created the world he created Adam and then from the rib of Adam he created Eve. Adam is called the “Son of God” because he was created in the likeness of the triune God head. Let me be quick to point out that this creation of mankind was not complete until after Eve was created and it is in the combination of the two that the image of God is made complete in unfallen mankind. Allow me to now lump all mankind together by using the word Adam to illustrate all mankind. If Adam was created by God and was called a Son of God by way of his creation on the sixth day, then would it stand to reason that Jesus, having humbled himself, allowing himself to become the incarnate Christ being born of Mary, would He then be considered a son of God by his birth through his earthly mother who was the wife of Joseph. Oh, and by the way, Joseph and Mary had no physical relationship until after Christ was born.
So when the heavens were opened and this voice from heaven said, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” God the Father is saying I am pleased in Jesus who took upon himself the form or likeness of a human and through Adam he is now as a son to me having been born of sinful mankind in the likeness of sinful Adam who was my son that went astray. But I am well pleased in Jesus, my Son through Adam, that has come to earth to redeem mankind back to me. Therefore, I will send the Holy Spirit to rest upon Him and dwell within Him to guide Jesus throughout his ministry on earth.
Then to jump ahead and finish out this thought, upon the completion of Christ mission on earth, the Holy Spirit that was given to Christ to guide and direct in His ministry is now given to each Christian that comes to Christ. After Baptism, the Holy Spirit now resides in our heart, to guide and direct in our lives and our ministries. The Bible promises, that it will be this way until just before Christ returns in clouds of glory to Take his faithful followers to heaven.
So, Christ, the Faithful Servant shows us by his example the different steps necessary for us to become humble servants to mankind. As Christ laid down His divinity and picked up our humanity, so he could serve mankind, then we as Christians need to lay down our humanity, our sinful nature, then taking up the character of Christ, which he gave to us as an example as seen through the pages of Sacred History, so that we to can become a servant of God showing to others the Good News of the Gospel message by the Character of Christ life living out through us.
But life with Christ is not always easy, it is a life filled with temptation, heart ache and disappointment. It is by keeping our eyes focused on Christ and Christ alone, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit that we can remain faithful servants.
May this always be our prayer. That we will ever remain the faithful servant of God as Christ remained faithful. Amen