Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jesus Going to Start Something Big (A Reflection on Mark 1:9-13)

Baptism and Temptation of Christ by Paolo Veronese
Not long afterward Jesus came from Nazareth in the province of Galilee,
and was baptized by John in the Jordan…
At once the Spirit made him go into the desert,
where he stayed forty days, being tempted by Satan” (Mark 1:9-13, GNB)

I remember when we celebrated The Marathon: 10th Anniversary of FES Sarawak, we use this phase for the program flow – On You Mark! Get Set! Go! Mark 1:9:13 are like the start of a race. They described Jesus’ entrance into public ministry. Here I notice that Mark, the writer, briefly includes 2 steps of preparation which Jesus took before He “Go!” – Baptism and Temptation.

On Your Mark!
I was wondered why Jesus was baptized? Isn’t baptism is the outward expression that a person has turned from sin to God? But Jesus was never sinned! John the Baptist also was puzzled when Jesus came to him for baptism (Matthew 3:14). As I studied the Scripture deeper, I understand now that the ultimate purpose of Jesus life, death and resurrection was to provide us His righteousness in exchange for our sinfulness. He became sin that we might become righteous. He humbled Himself even to the point of appearing (in public!) like a sinful man. Thank you Jesus.

Get Set!
I also was curious why Jesus needed to be tempted? Now (at least) I can be in peace with this part of the Scripture because of these 3 reasons: 1) God was not worried about losing Jesus to Satan or having His plan of redemption ruined. Satan tried to make Jesus sin, but Jesus proved that (or God proved that) He would stand. In fact, Jesus would not sin and ruined Satan’s plan instead; 2) Through temptation, Jesus knows what it’s like to be tempted as a human being and thus provide an encouragement and strength to resist sin and Satan ‘s scheme. He shows the way and gives us strength by the power of the Holy Spirit in us now to do the same; and 3) Jesus shows that He resisted temptation with the Word of God “It is written…” (Matthew 4:4, 6,10). God’s Word is a primary source to resist temptation. Period.

In Jesus’ humanity, baptism and temptation identified Him so completely with our sinful condition. In Jesus’ divinity, however, baptism and temptation proved that He came from God. During His baptism a voice came from heaven said, “You are my own dear Son. I am pleased with you” (Mark 1:11); and after His temptation “angels came and helped him” (1:13). With John the Baptist had been prisoned, and two critical steps of preparation behind Him, Jesus began His public ministry. He began preaching in Galilee. On Your Mark! Get Set! Go!

World, are you ready?
Or are you ready for the world?
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