Monday, December 11, 2017

Jesus Baptized

Jesus Baptized
December 11, 2017
Mark 1:4 "And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins."

John the Baptist was the cousin of Jesus, just a few months older than the Savior. They grew up knowing each other, knowing about each other, possibly spending plenty of time together, at least during reunions and major celebrations over thirty years of their lives. Both were brought up with a Godly heritage, where each was able to develop a deep relationship with the Heavenly Father. John started in ministry before Jesus, however. John had disciples well before Jesus turned the water into wine. What was so special about a man who baptized Jesus and how was John's baptism so superior that he was able to baptize the Savior?

John was an oddity in his time. He developed a ministry that was on the fringe of society. Instead of preaching in the synagogue, John preached out in the desert or wilderness, the outskirts of town. He developed a ministry of preaching repentance and baptizing people. Jews did not participate in baptism, they were born into their religion. Scholars believe John's ministry was for those converting religions and coming to a faith in the Lord, into Judaism. Everything that was considered unclean had to be kept on the outskirts, far away from the synagogue or temple. John developed a following of disciples who were intent on focusing and learning the Scriptures, diving deep into a relationship with the Lord. The baptism in water was their symbolism of being made clean and dedicating themselves to the Lord. Baptism was not required back then, it was not even a part of the Jew's practice. John started a radical ministry, considered as odd as he was, even slightly crazy. It wasn't crazy, however, it was real. It was so real that even the Jewish leaders came out to him to see what it was all about, to see these dedicated men whose lives were being transformed by a deep wave of faith. Jesus, too, came out and spent time with John and his disciples.

Jesus decided He would be baptized by John. Jesus didn't need baptized though, He had never sinned. Baptism was a symbol of being washed clean of sin with the intent of living a life dedicated to the Lord. Jesus didn't need that, either; He was already dedicated. So why was Jesus baptized; He didn't need to convert to Judaism. Jesus asked John to perform the Baptism and John refused initially, suggesting it wasn't needed. Jesus insisted. John consented. Jesus said it was necessary to complete and fulfill righteousness.  His righteousness did not need completed, though. Jesus did it to show others, to demonstrate what we should do with our own lives. It wasn't for show, it was to lead by example, similar to God resting on the seventh day then ordering us to do likewise. It was the demonstration of a practice we are to emulate. But Jesus wasn't just emulating being dipped in water, Jesus was emulating the dedication to what John's ministry was all about, to a full dedication and living intently for the Lord. Jesus' baptism was real, the start of something radical and John helped set it in motion.

You and I understand baptism as an outward statement of following Jesus. But it is so much more than that, it is a radical statement of wanting to go deeper, wanting to be a true disciple, wanting to live with a passion. Jesus was baptized to demonstrate what a passionate person does who is intent on serving the Lord. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Matthew 3, Mark 1

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