Baptism of Our Lord – January 7, 2024

Mark does not make so much of the Baptism of Jesus. In three spare verses he tells us that Jesus was baptized, the Spirit came, the voice spoke and Jesus is immediately hurled into the wilderness for the temptation. What is more, these three verses are the ninth through eleventh verses of the first chapter. Mark is in such a hurry to get to the narratives of Jesus ministry, death, and resurrection. The other other Gospel writers have us linger here and consider what happened in greater detail.

Mark’s brevity (haste?) allows the editors of the pericope system to expand. It is as if a three verse Gospel reading is just too short. They bring us into Mark’s summary of the ministry of John the Baptist, repeating much of the the reading which we had a few weeks ago on the second Sunday of Advent. Here, Mark’s brevity serves us well. He allows us to gain the context of this event. The same thing will happen on the First Sunday in Lent as Mark’s extremely brief synopsis of the temptation narrative allows us to connect those events to the baptismal narrative here.

For the preacher, we will want take advantage of this and connect the ministry of John, with all its Old Testament resonances, to the simple truth of Jesus’ authority and identity. He is the fulfillment of the OT and holds the double imprimatur of the heavenly voice and the Spirit’s anointing. Mark seems to want to say little more than that. We should let him speak through us. Jesus has both Spirit and God’s blessing. That means we should pay attention to what he does and says.

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