Thursday, November 12, 2009

11/13 Mark 1:9-13 Baptism of Jesus

(Perugina 1498)

Daily devotional using John Calvin's commentary on the Gospels on his 500th birthday year.

Mark 1:9-13 (Mt. 3:13-17; Lk. 3:21-23)
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 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. 11 And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Calvin Abridged: Why did Jesus wish to be baptized? He received the same baptism with us, in order to assure believers, that they are ingrafted into his body. Matthew 3:15 says he did this to “fulfill all righteousness” (righteousness frequently means law). Since Christ had voluntarily subjected himself to the law, it was necessary that he should keep it in every part. The general reason was that Christ might render full obedience to the Father; The specific reason is that we might bless the act of baptism by his partaking in it, and that we might have it in common with him. In Matthew John acknowledged the superiority of Christ (Mt. 3:15). “heaven was opened”- John could see something beyond the planets and the stars, seeing into the presence of God. How this happened is not very important, what is important is that it symbolized the Divine presence. But why did the Spirit who was in Christ before descend upon him at that time? Isaiah 61:1 answers that the time for his ministry and public life had come, and He needed the power of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit came upon him in the form of a dove and not fire to show the mildness of Christ (Isa. 42:2,3). John did not see the essence or power of the Spirit, only the symbol of the Spirit in the form of a dove. The voice from heaven gave Christ the title “beloved Son.” He is the mediator between us and God, making us sons by his sonship. In ourselves we are not beloved sons, but are hateful towards God, and his fatherly love most flow to us form Christ (Eph. 1:5,6). Christ is the firstborn of every creature (Col. 1:5) so that we might obtain our adoption as His children.

Thoughts: Christ was baptized as an example to us, so that we might not hesitate to see the need to be baptized. At His baptism there is the Son in the water, the Spirit in the form of a dove, and the Father in the form of the voice. There was unity in all three persons- uniting in the blessing of baptism. There also was separation so that all three were there in different forms. This goes against modalism that says that Father appeared in the Old Testament, Jesus in the New, and the Spirit after his descension. All three co-exist and work together. "Coming up out of the water"- is not necessarily coming up from down under the water as much as coming up out of the river bank. There are two common extremes in our day. Those who make a huge, sophisticated deal out of baptism, and those who completely ignore it, even neglecting it. In the middle is the better way- treating baptism with respect and honor, yet not making it a hocus pocus, heebie jeebie thing. Calvin despised adding anointing oil to baptism as it was not added in the biblical baptisms, but also because it took away from the simplicity and true meaning of it. There are some post-Christian families who want their children baptized as insurance. I have run into some lately. There are others who just neglect baptism altogether, and thus neglect the promise to care for the souls of their children as well as their bodies and minds. In our culture, when a parent neglects caring for their child’s physical needs we arrest them. When a parent doesn’t send their child to school, the truant officer calls and there can be fines. But when someone neglects to care for their child’s eternal soul, our culture yawns as if it means little. Christians should see the importance of baptism as Christ took time out to show us it was important to Him.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord that you were baptized. Help me to remember my baptism, and hold baptism in honor.

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