Mark 1: 7 – 11
John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism – a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit – will change you from the inside out.”
At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
John follows the vocation of his birth; he calls and Jesus responds; wanting to be part of John’s vision; to help prepare the way for the Lord – to find to find that he is who they have been waiting for.
The baptism with water is only the beginning; the willingness to stand before others and be made clean; to stand in the river and be moved by its energy and its restlessness. Jesus is still Jesus. To be washed is to be made ready. To stand in the river is to sense the movement of creation yet not to be part of that movement; like a willow soaking up the life force of journeys it has never made.
Oh, the pride of his Father; and all so delighted with his Beloved that even the Holy Spirit takes physical form so as to embrace Jesus. All of the Sacred Trinity in one space; in one witnessing of divine love; of entranced recognition.
This was the beginning. John’s gift of baptism – the catalyst- the means to cast off into the deeper life. Jesus, the Son; the Beloved; the Unexpected.