Mark 1:4-8 John the Baptist

Note: This Post is part of the series “Studies in Mark” see the Series Index for other posts in this series.

1The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
4John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
5And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
–Mark 1:1 – 8 (ESV)

We are exhorted, so far, to keep trying to get it right. To press on to the high calling. And to be faithful with what we have because God can use that.

John was such a one as that. He was faithful and true to the end though his head ended up in a ‘charger’. He was a rough customer with his leather belt and garment of camel’s hair. He ate locusts and wild honey: he was fully dependent upon the Lord for all of his needs. How many of us would preach or teach on those rations? In spite of that he was faithful to preach. At the top of that great voice of his he came as the prophets of old came preaching “Repent!” and “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.” (v.7) He preached Christ and preached that he was coming soon and I’ll tell you what, that was something that got your attention in that day. One commentary I read says that the whole of Israel was awaiting the coming of their Messiah. Whatever their reason they knew he was coming.

“I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (v.8) We who call upon the name of Christ and call him Lord are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 – 14 (ESV) 13In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Do I know the fine points of how this is done? No. But I am comfortable knowing that the Word of God states it for a fact we are sealed with His Spirit when we are converted and he is a “guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” meaning we who are Christians have already been separated out.

It’s time we started living that way don’t you think?

Further, this passage in Mark sort of shoots a hole in that bucket that holds that the water of Baptism is what saves you. Baptism is a mark of obedience. It’s foolhardy in the winter, uncomfortable in the Summer, and if you’re a girl, it does terrible things to your hair and makeup but it’s the Lords command. “Go thou and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” That’s what matters. But sinners we are and sinners we remain, though redeemed, until that day when Christ takes us away. No water can change that. The Spirit of God can and does though, setting us free from the bondage of sin and death and allowing us to do that which pleases the Lord. Without it, that is not possible. (Romans 5, 6,7,8—just read the whole thing.)

Other posts in this series.

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