Sunday, January 7, 2018

Posted on Jan 05 2018

Bible Background: John the Baptist appears and acts like one of the prophets. He attracts people from all over. John issues a call to serious repentance. People respond! Maybe John has tapped into a hungering for God; a hunger that people have for new beginnings in life! While John seems very different from us; Jesus seems very much like us in this scene…coming to be baptized; seeking to do the thing that is good and right. And we want to be like him, hearing the announcement that we too are God’s beloved children!

Reflections: 1. Mark has no birth story of Jesus. (In fact, 6 books of the NT mention Jesus’ baptism while only 2 cover his birth!) We hear John say that “a mightier one” is coming. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Then Mark tells how “Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John…” That’s a very simple introduction! No fanfare. And Nazareth? A ‘nothing’ town!

2. One key word in Mark’s account that is different from Matthew and Luke is the use of the Greek word schizomai to describe how the “heavens were torn apart”. Something that is ripped apart usually cannot be put back the way it was! Something is radically different with the presence of Jesus. Mark also uses this verb to describe how the curtain in the Temple is “torn in two” as Jesus dies on the cross. That curtain used to separate the people from the holy-of-holies, the inner chamber of the Temple where God’s presence was believed to dwell. Mark makes clear that Jesus changes everything!

3. Luther’s Small Catechism lists these benefits of baptism: “In Baptism God forgives sin, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe what God has promised.” Which of those benefits do you appreciate the most?

4. Pastor David Lose invites us to consider the blessings of baptism: That we are accepted by God; loved by God; approved by God; and marked with the cross of Christ forever! Talk about these blessings. Which means the most to you? Why?

5. Practically speaking, baptism was the norm in the recent past. Nowadays, that’s less true. How can we as individuals and church-be open to people who are not baptized? What are ways that might invite them to consider baptism for themselves or their child? And how do we not act like we are part of some exclusive club because we are baptized?