I baptize you with water…" vs. 8
Mark starts his gospel with the ministry of John the Baptist. John was essential to the ministry of Christ. He fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy of a voice calling in the desert: “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight paths for him”. There was an anointing and call upon his life from birth to complete this role. He didn’t do it out of his own strength, talent, gifts, good looks or personal motivation. He could do it because the Spirit of the Lord enabled him to. The favor and the presence of the Lord gifts you with the ability to impact people’s lives. Without His favor you can preach and prophesy and sing and dance with the best of them and no one will pay any attention to you.
John was making straight paths before Jesus through his preaching. He preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins and people responded by being baptized in water. Repentance means to change your mind. Changing your mind about how you perceive the world will change how you respond to your world. Interestingly his message wasn’t repentance from sin but repentance in regard to forgiveness of sin. People understand sin whether they want to acknowledge it or not. The problem isn’t the existence of sin but the consequences of sin. When we recognize our sin, we feel judgment that leaves us in despair, as we are incapable of satisfying that judgment. We have no means of atonement within ourselves. This is overwhelming so we try to ignore it, rationalize it away, and create scientific or philosophical theories that we hope will eradicate the guilt. Hiding was the first thing Adam did after he sinned. What else can we do?
John didn’t preach turn from sin. He preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People needed to change their minds about forgiveness. They lived under a religious system that created an untenable, unbearable web of judgment not freedom. The more they tried to fulfill the law the less successful they were. They saw no escape from judgment, only failure to please God. Judgment is a harsh taskmaster. These people needed to know there was hope. They needed to know there was forgiveness. They knew they couldn’t master sin, in fact, that it had mastered them. What John did was give them hope. He straightened out their thinking on whom God was and what he was going to do for them. God doesn’t want to condemn and destroy men, He wants to restore and love mankind. Sin makes people morally crooked and twisted. Sin is birthed in our minds before it is acted out. People needed to have their minds enlightened regarding God’s ability to forgive.
(Excerpt from the Wonder Worker available by clicking here)
(image courtesy of anekoho/FreeDigitalPhotos.net)