Posted on Tue, Feb 24, 2015
February 22, 2015
First Sunday in Lent
The Baptism of Jesus
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’
The Temptation of Jesus
12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’
“O that you would tear open the heavens and come down,
so that the mountains would quake at your presence—“
If there were a day we cry out to the Lord to be present within our midst, it would have to be the Sunday of our annual church meeting. It is this time we evaluate what we have done, and what we have left undone this past year; repent our mistakes, and celebrate God’s grace in still calling us God’s Children even with our short coming and mistakes. And then, with hopeful hearts we self-evaluate all of the talents Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church has been blessed with and faithfully recommit ourselves to our mission of Making Christ Known in the world, to be a blessing of Aloha to the world.
Our text couldn't be better than what we have been blessed with, the baptism of Jesus. Two points I want to highlight in today’s text.
First, Mark is the Gospel simply written that gets straight to the point without too much added theological or missiological (the study of religious (typically Christian) missions and their methods and purposes.) interpretation. In Mark alone, when Jesus comes out of the waters after being baptized, the heavens are “torn apart!” In Matthew and Luke the heavens are simply “opened.”
Think about what Mark is trying to communicate to us about God’s actions here by using a rather violent word like, “torn” rather than a more benign word like, “opened.” If something is “torn apart” it is not simply repaired. For the people listening to Mark’s words, they would be thinking about a wine or water bag made from the skin or leather of an animal. Once it is torn, it is forever torn, and the whole remains forever. With the Baptism of Jesus, God has totally and completely broken into the world in which God has promised to save, and there is NO GOING BACK! The division between God and humankind has been completely torn apart, and God in Christ is no walking amongst us.
You can recall the moment when Jesus died (Matthew 27:51) and the curtain separating the Holy of Holy’s from the outside world was torn from top to bottom. In Jesus’ baptism and death, the barrier between God and us is totally removed. In Jesus’ baptism, we are ordered to listen to Jesus for in Jesus words we find eternal life. In Jesus’ death all of our sins have been forgiven and we are called “forgiven.” In Jesus’ baptism and death, we find our identity.
Second, we receive the call of our mission, Jesus says, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’
This is what we are to believe, to do, and to live. Jesus is here and has promised to be faithful. We are to believe and allow the Spirit to work through us so that we are equipped to proclaim that Good News to a world desperate to know they are blessed and forgiven one and all.
As we meet today, above everything else, including budgets, programs and property stuff, let us keep asking ourselves, are we fulfilling Jesus call for us; as the People of God, blessed with that same baptism do we, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’
God is Good. Praise be to God.
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