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GRACE
PRESBYTERIAN
CHURCH

Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

“The Heavens Torn Apart

Mark 1:9-13

Jesus’ baptism is both an historic and symbolic event.  Jesus comes to be baptized by John.  John’s baptism is for the forgiveness of sins.  However Jesus is sinless so why is he being baptized?  The answer is that Jesus from the very beginning of his ministry is taking the sin of the world on himself. 

Going into the Jordan River can be seen as symbolic of going into the realm of death.  Ancient people both feared and depended on bodies of water. People depended on lakes and seas for transportation.  In the case of several disciples who were fishermen the sea was a source of livelihood.  However the sea was also threatening.  This went beyond the obvious threat of storms.

The Bible along with ancient myths saw creation preceded by an early stage of chaotic water.  In Gen. 1 we read that the Spirit (or wind) of God hovered over the “deep” (Gen. 1:2).  Out of this God spoke and there was light (Gen. 1:3).

 What we are witnessing in Jesus’ baptism is a symbolic re-creation.  The Jordan symbolizes the threatening waters.  For Israel to cross the Jordan to enter the promise land God performed the miracle of suspending the flow of the river in order that they could cross in safety (Joshua 3).

Jesus coming out of the Jordan prefigures the resurrection.  The Spirit comes upon him in the form of a dove just as the spirit hovered over the waters in creation.  God speaks.  He announces that Jesus is his Beloved basic Son.  As a parallel to God saying “Let there be light” in the first creation Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12).

God’s pronouncement of Jesus as his Son is not some specialized spiritual event outside of the basic events of history.  An important date is Sept. 17 in the year 14 A.D.  On that date the Roman senate declared the recently deceased Caesar Augustus to be a “son of god” and therefore “the savior of the world.”

To commit ourselves to Jesus Christ is to embrace his new creation over the old.  The conflict between Christ and Caesar is inevitable.  We may pay taxes to Caesar but all of life is under the authority of Jesus (Mark 12:17; Matt. 28:18).

We need to see that in Christ all things are new (II Cor. 5:17).

Eternal and loving God give me the faith to live in terms of the new creation revealed in Christ.  May I not be satisfied with things as they are but seek your kingdom and its justice (Matt. 6:33).  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.