John’s role was to make straight paths before the Lord. His preaching led to people repenting, receiving forgiveness for sins and being water baptized. Water symbolizes cleansing but as Paul said in Romans 6 it also represents death. Have you ever pondered what death is? I used to think it meant ceasing to exist or even annihilation. It, in fact, means separation. Physical death is separation of the spirit from the body. Spiritual death is separation of your spirit from God’s spirit. The people who responded to John’s message were not only cleansed from sin but in effect were also saying I am dead to that old way of life.
Jesus came with a baptism of the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:11 says: ”And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” For man this is impossible but for God all things are possible. Jesus not only died in our place, he rose from the dead. This is crucial to our understanding as Christians. Jesus is not dead; He is alive. He is not separated from God but united with Him. We have this hope. Death has no victory over us. Our mortal body may pass away but our spirit man lives and will receive a new immortal body.
Jesus came not just to call us to repentance regarding forgiveness of sins but also to release the Holy Spirit and His power into our lives. We are not powerless. We have the same power that raised a man who was dead 3 days from the grave. This power operated in Jesus’ life from the time of his baptism with John to His resurrection. It was the Holy Spirit that released authority through Jesus. Mark 1 verse 22 says: “The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the Law.” This authority spilled over into healing and driving out of demons. Throughout the book of Mark Jesus is driving out demons.
For Christians to ignore the baptism of the Holy Spirit is equivalent to going to war without ammunition or into the boxing ring with our hands tied behind our back. We are relatively ineffective. We need to embrace the baptism; the empowering of the Holy Spirit, if we are going to live and live abundantly the life Jesus promised us.
Mark was an action man. He wanted to know what the bottom line is. With this in mind he launched his narrative with the role of John the Baptist and repentance, followed hotly by Jesus baptism with the Holy Spirit and the subsequent promise that we too will receive the same. He is saying we have to change our thinking about God’s attitude to us. God loves us and forgives us. Our thinking needs to continue to be renewed to the fact that He also empowers us to live above and beyond what we have experienced to date. The word tells us we are in the world but not of the world. To live beyond what the world offers we have to grasp the reality of our complete forgiveness and the power of God that will not only be in us but envelope us entirely. The word “baptism” is a transliteration of the Greek word “baptizo” which means to submerge completely as cloth being immersed in dye. The Spirit permeates us and surrounds us.
To settle for anything less than to be completely immersed, surrounded and permeated with the Holy Spirit is to fall far short of the fullness of life available to us. This baptism empowers us to be liberators of those bound through the deception of the evil one. We can do what Jesus did and more if we believe!
(Excerpt from the Wonder Worker available by clicking here)
(image courtesy of Vlado/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)