Grace For Your Day January 22

Baptism is one of the oldest ordinances in the New Testament. Ever since its inception, the church has immersed new believers in water. For example, Jesus and the disciples baptized (John 3:22), the disciples on the Day of Pentecost baptized (Acts 2:38), Philip baptized (Acts 8: 12, 35-38), Peter baptized (Acts 10:44-48), Paul baptized (Acts 16:15), and Ananias encouraged the newly converted Saul of Tarsus to be baptized (Acts 22:1-16).

However, one of the first people to baptize in the Bible was John the Baptist. His name is literally translated “John the Baptizer” because that is what he was known for. Mark 1:4-5 says:

John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.

When Mark says that that “all the country of Judea was going out to him,” he is implying that large numbers were coming to John. They were leaving their places of comfort and travelling deep into the wilderness near the Dead Sea in order to hear his message, turn away from their sin, and be saved. At which, point John was immersing them in water as a sign of their newfound faith in Christ. As he was doing that, Mark 1:9 tells us that “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.”

In other words, as the crowds were going to John to be baptized, Jesus joined them. According to some Bible scholars, the journey from Nazareth to the Dead Sea would have been about 70 miles and it would have taken several days. It would have also been an arduous trip because Nazareth sits at 1,700 feet above sea level and the Dead Sea sits at 1,300 feet below sea level and the temperatures can soar to well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit along the way.

So the question is: Why? What compelled Jesus to go to John and undertake this ceremony in the first place?

Scholars have offered several answers to that question.

1). Jesus was baptized to affirm the ministry of John the Baptist. If you remember from last week, it was John’s job to serve as a forerunner of Christ. Mark 1:3 says that the Lord called John to be:
The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
‘Make ready the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.’

So by undergoing this ordinance, Jesus was asserting that John was indeed the one that the prophets wrote about.

2). Jesus was baptized to affirm His identity as the Son of God. Mark 1:10-11 says:
Immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: “You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased.”

This is a wonderful passage because it tells us that, at Jesus’ baptism, all three members of the Trinity were seen. God the Son was baptized, God the Spirit descended upon Him like a dove, and God the Father spoke. All of this was done in order to proclaim Jesus’ divinity to those standing nearby.

3). Jesus was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. Matthew 3:13-15 says:
 Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.

As you can imagine, John did not initially want to baptize Jesus. He put up a resistance but Jesus told him to go through with it. He explained that what seemed inappropriate was necessary “at this time” both as an act of obedience to the Father’s will and as a way for Him to identify with the people that He would die for which is a mysterious thing. To be honest, it is something that we will never fully understand.

As J. C. Ryle says, “The baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ was attended by circumstances of peculiar solemnity. Such a baptism never will happen again, so long as the world stands” which is what we are going to talk about this week at Grace Fellowship Church.

This Sunday, we are going to look at the baptism of Jesus because we are continuing our journey through the Gospel of Mark and we now come to Mark 1:9-11. It is a captivating portion of Scripture because this is the first time that we are introduced to Jesus personally in this Gospel. Mark 1:1 tells us that this book is about “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Then Mark 1:9 says that “in those days Jesus came from Nazareth” to be baptized.

In other words, this is how Jesus started His ministry. Of all the different ways that He could have begun His work as our Savior, this is what He chose to do so it must have been important to Him. His baptism held a special place in His heart and it should hold a special place in our hearts as well which is why we are going to study it together.

Please join us as we do that over the weekend. The service will begin at 9:30 on Sunday morning and the sermon will be recorded and placed on our You Tube Channel afterwards for all those who cannot make it in person.

- Jeremy Cagle