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.
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
(Mark 1:9-15 NIV)
Do you have your fancy dress shoes on? You know, that pair without any scuffs on them, the ones that aren’t quite broken in yet, set aside for special occasions when you want to look your very best?
If so, you’ll want to stop, put them back in the closet, and pull out that trustworthy pair of hiking boots, or at least your favorite pair of comfortable walking shoes. As we move into today’s passage, Mark does not go into any lengthy discourses about Jesus’ life or ministry – he hits the highlights and moves on. In these seven verses, we see three major events in Jesus’ life:
- Jesus’ baptism (vv. 9-11)
- Jesus’ temptation by Satan (vv. 12-13)
- Jesus’ ministry launched (vv. 14-15)
In verse 9, Mark tells us that Jesus came from Nazareth to the Jordan River to be baptized by John the Baptizer. Assuming Jesus was on foot, this walk would take him between ten days and two weeks. This journey was a hike, not an afternoon stroll.
Verse 10 begins with “Just as…”. Other translations use the word “immediately”, signifying the timing of what was about to happen. John the Baptizer was baptizing for repentance, and Jesus asked John to baptize Him. Jesus had nothing to repent of, but He took on the likeness of our sin so as to fully identify with us.
And what was the immediate thing that happened when Jesus obeyed His Father and underwent baptism? John experienced the Trinity coming together at that moment – Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit descending upon Him, and the Father speaking words of affirmation and love. The Father was so excited that He tore open the veil between heaven and earth, sent the Holy Spirit, and proudly proclaimed His love for His One and Only Son.
Before the cheering was over, the next event started. Verse 12 begins with “At once…”. Again, Mark captures the immediacy of these back-to-back events. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, where Satan tempted Him. Mark spends no time with the details of the temptation, only that the wild beasts were there with Him in the desert and the angels protected Him and attended to His needs. Considering that Mark most likely recorded Peter’s words while in Rome, where Nero was feeding Christians to the wild beasts in the arena, these would be words of comfort to those early followers.
When Jesus’ time in the desert was over, verse 14 captures the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Note that there was a sequential nature to the events that happened – only after John the Baptizer was in custody could Jesus’ ministry begin.
John’s ministry and message were about the coming Messiah; Jesus said that the kingdom of God is now present, and He is the embodiment of God on earth. Obedience to John’s message required preparation and persistence (waiting); obedience to Jesus’ message required faith and following Him.
May we be swept away by the immense love that God showed His Son as He came out of the Jordan River’s baptismal waters. As followers of His Son, may we experience God’s overwhelming love for us, being wrapped in His arms of care and protection.
And may we, as we experience God’s unconditional love and words of affirmation, share that love with others who don’t yet know Him.
It’s the best news that we can ever offer, and that they will ever hear.