Jesus is baptized

Mark 1:9-11

Parallel texts: Matthew 3:13-17;  Like 3:21-22

Mark continues the action, after having described briefly the ministry of John the Baptist, here comes Jesus down from Nazareth to be baptized by John. Since John was operating near Jerusalem, Jesus would have traveled about 80 miles on foot through some pretty rough terrain to join John at the Jordan. Mark doesn’t record the exchange between the two that Matthew describes, 042814 011-LRprobably because it wouldn’t mean much to a Roman, but he does record the most important and significant aspects of this scene.

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. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:10-11

First, you no doubt noted the words as Jesus “was coming up out of the water”. I point this out because it indicates that Jesus and John had been down in the water in the first place. As if the meaning of baptize (Greek baptiso “to immerse”) weren’t enough to indicate what is going on here, Mark describes a scene in which immersion has taken place in the river, and thus Jesus had to come up out of the water.

Next, Mark shows us an amazing scene. Jesus has just been baptized, and the Holy Spirit descends upon Him like a dove. you have seen other passages in the Bible where the Holy Spirit is described as being like fire, but here the Spirit is like a dove; gentle, harmless and peaceful. This makes perfect sense since Jesus’ ministry was not about condemnation or judgment, but rather it was a ministry of reconciliation, peace and love. I also like to point out that the Holy Spirit descended after He was baptized, just as the Holy Spirit is gifted to the Christian after baptism (Acts 2:38). Then, another amazing thing: The voice of the Father from heaven, announcing that Jesus is the Son for the first time.

Three times in the New Testament, the divine voice of the Father is heard. Here, at the transfiguration, and in Jesus’ last week in John 12:28. In this case, the Father not only announces that Jesus is His Son, but indicates that the Father is well-pleased with Jesus… why now?

Jesus has been baptized to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15) and it strikes me that this would imply an obedient act on Jesus’ part. The Father is pleased now when Jesus has been obedient. This is not to say that Jesus wasn’t pleasing in God’s sight before, but remember that Jesus has come to the earth do His Father’s will, and this act of obedience is an example to us of doing His will.

We should also note here, that in this scene are all three Persons of the Godhead: Father (voice from heaven), Son (Jesus coming up out of the water) and Holy Spirit (descending like a dove). You just don’t see a scene like this very often!

As you know, I have marched into territory over which Christians love to fight. I’m not going to indulge myself in the battle here, but I would leave a thought with you. All three Persons of the Godhead were present when Jesus, in obedience, was baptized. When any Christian, in obedience, is baptized, all three are present. First, we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Son is present, for it is His death into which we are baptized. The Father is present when He sends us the Holy Spirit when we come up out of the water, and we testify to this, along with the Holy Spirit. (Romans 8:14-15)

Of course you are free to do with this as you will, but if you think that baptism is nothing more than a ceremony, I hope you’ll reconsider.

Well, that’s about it for now… I thinking about a Bonus Post soon!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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16 Responses to Jesus is baptized

  1. I always find it powerful that I was baptized by the same Holy Spirit as Jesus. Though I was baptized ceremoniously after the fact, the real deal happened instantly the moment I repented of my sin and embraced Jesus as my Lord and Savior. What a profound flavor the cleansing water was to my lips of confession and profession.

  2. Tom says:

    Excellent! I really like the point on the Holy Spirit coming as a dove can be a representation of Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation, peace and love.

  3. RaeBear says:

    Reblogged this on FTGOG and commented:
    Here is the really smart blogger Don Merritt on Jesus baptize by John via the Gospel of Mark. And he has a picture of the Jordon river. It is an interesting picture to think of this as a moment in space/time where God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit were all united. If I were an artist I would try to draw something swirly and full of color and movement.

  4. Elaine says:

    Love the picture you describe at Jesus’ baptism of the presence of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! I remember that when I was baptized eight years ago, it was a very special, very emotional experience for me, but I could not put words to it.

  5. vwoods1212 says:

    Thanks for establishing the Three fold power for baptism; I witnessed a church who turned away from this because of heresy. The bible makes it plain, I don’t understand the rationale for exclusion. May God help us. vw

  6. nuvofelt says:

    An excellent post, and while I won’t say that you HAVE to be baptised to enter heaven (deathbed conversions and the likemust surely be exempt), the statement that you make when you are is a POWERFUL one. As someone once said, ‘If it was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.’ My own mother was a Christian and lived a good life, having been Christened as a baby. At the age of 72 she heard about full water immersion and decided that THAT was what she must do. Her baptism was an amazing testimony. She will be 96 later this month and Christ radiates from her.

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