The Baptism of the Lord

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
(Mark 1:7-11)

Scripture Study

1:7 One mightier than I John understands himself to be the forerunner of the Messiah (compare Mark 1:2–3). I am not worthy Removing and carrying sandals was the work of slaves. John is stating that he is not worthy even to be a slave of the Messiah (the anointed one of God).

1:8 baptized you with water John’s baptism was in preparation for the Messiah, through whom God would pour out His Spirit on the people of Israel (Joel 2:28; Isa 32:15; 44:3; Ezek 36:26; compare Isa 42:1). John anticipates that Jesus’ appearance would directly precede the arrival of God’s Spirit (compare Acts 2:1–13).

1:9 from Nazareth A small town in Galilee. Jesus seems to have spent the majority of His childhood and youth years, and perhaps His early adulthood, in Nazareth (Matt 2:23; Luke 4:16). He does not begin His adult ministry until around age 30 (Luke 3:23). Galilee The northernmost region of Palestine. After the death of Herod the Great in 4 bc, his son, Antipas, administered Galilee (along with Perea, where John was baptizing).

1:10 the heavens being torn open Evokes the language of Isa 64:1–2. Isaiah 64 is about the awesome arrival of God’s presence and the need for sinful people to be saved; the passage has in view both the Jewish people and the nations (the entire world). In the culmination of Isa 64, Jesus’ baptism marks the arrival of God’s presence (compare Mark 1:15). Spirit This connects Jesus to Isa 42:1, where God states that He will put His Spirit on His Servant. It portrays Jesus as the anointed Servant in Isaiah who is commissioned by God to establish justice on the earth (Isa 42:1, 4).

1:11 You are my beloved Son Drawn from Psa 2:7. Psalm 2 speaks about the role of the anointed one of Yahweh (the Messiah) and how the kings of the earth should fear Yahweh and His Son, for all nations will ultimately be His heritage (Psa 2:7, 11–12; compare Isa 52:15; 53:12).

Scripture Reflection

John’s prophecy that Jesus would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit” is fulfilled in the life of every new Christian through the sacraments of baptism and confirmation. Just as the gestation of our first birth took place in water, so the water of Baptism truly signifies that our birth into the divine life is given to us in the Holy Spirit. Most Christians receive this unspeakable gift at a very young age; thus to experience its full effects we need to appropriate the gift of the Spirit personally through faith, ongoing conversion, and growth in the knowledge of God.

The phrase “baptism in the Spirit” has also become familiar to millions of English-speaking Christians through the charismatic renewal, which adapted the biblical term to express the life-changing encounter with Christ and outpouring of the power of the Holy Spirit that many experience. “Baptism in the Spirit” in this sense is not a sacrament but a coming alive of the graces received in sacramental baptism. Although the grace of Pentecost is manifested in different ways in every age, it is fundamentally the same grace of which John spoke and which Jesus poured out on the Church after his passion and resurrection.

– Mary Healy

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.

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