40 WAYS IN 40 DAYS LENT 2015
#4 Initiation: Get Wild and Baptist…
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And 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. 11And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved;*with you I am well pleased.’
12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news* of God,* 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near;* repent, and believe in the good news.’*
Mark 1. 9-15 The Kingdom of God has come near!
Jesus’ baptism is somewhat of a theological conundrum – why did the sinless Son of God need to repent of his sins? For Baptists, baptism as believers, rather than as infants, is our central piece of distinctive theatre, and for many of us the significance of baptism goes further than simply a symbol of sins being washed away. Jesus seems to prefigure this wider understanding of baptism in the way he embraces the practice. The full immersion of a new believer in a river, the sea or a pool demonstrates our belief that as we go under the water our former life is drowned and we rise to a new life in Christ. For the early Christians and for many since, baptism was a sign of conscientious objection- a dying to the prevailing powers of empire; religion; materialism and individualism and a rising to a new way of living, which was risky and adventurous. It is commonly held that in undergoing baptism by John, Jesus was identifying with all people in their need and brokenness, and also that he was rising to a new life of obedience to the will of God. The great affirmation from God “You are my beloved Son” is both a seal on this new beginning and an empowerment for what is to come. It is significant that after this mutual declaration of love and support, the commitment is immediately severely tested, as Jesus enters the wilderness.
These 40 days of testing are at the heart of the traditional understandings of Lent. Are we willing to live out our baptismal commitments? Will we seek to live counter-culturally resisting the lure of possessions; power and personal aggrandisement? Jesus calls us to simplicity; hospitality; community and sacrifice, and every day, be it Lent or not, we face those choices. Whenever we choose life and love, then we hear Jesus say again “the Kingdom of God has come near”.
- What does your baptism mean to you in terms of living differently?
- What have you died to, or what do you wish to die to?
- What do you want to take on as you rise up in the new beginning this day offers you?
-AWH, Newmarket Baptist