Mark 1:9-13 The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus


Jesus comes to John for baptism (1:9) The descent of the Holy Spirit (1:10) The approval of the Father (1:11) The Spirit send Jesus to the wilderness (1:12) Jesus is tempted (1:13)


Jesus approached John during the pinnacle of John’s ministry, as John had fulfilled his prophetic duty in preparing the way for Jesus. Since large crowds had been coming to see John, there was a great public witness. Jesus was not famous then, or even well-known. He lived a quiet life as a carpenter in Nazareth, Jesus did not need to be baptized, as he was sinless, but he did come to John for the purpose of baptism. His baptism was a symbol of his ordination and marked the beginning of his public ministry. Jesus was entirely immersed in the water for his baptism. When he came up out of the water, the heavens tore open in dramatic fashion, but the Holy Spirit descended peacefully like a dove upon Jesus. The dove was a symbol of peace, and one God had used before after the great flood with Noah, to represent a new beginning (Gen. 8:6-12). Jesus was a new beginning, an ambassador for the New Covenant between God and man. The Spirit anointed Jesus with power and authority.  God the Father then publicly claimed Jesus as his son and gave his approval. The event of Jesus’ baptism testifies to the existence of the Trinity in three separate persons. The Spirit was not a passive force. By its urging, Christ faced the temptation of Satan in the wilderness. There was no delay, the action was immediate. The temptation of Christ was therefore something that needed to occur before he was to be sent out in ministry. Jesus would face Satan alone, aside from his reliance on the Father and the Spirit. The temptation of Jesus demonstrated that he was a human and subject to human experience. It also proved Jesus could resist and overcome the power of Satan. Mark does not describe the temptations themselves, although theses details are mention in Matthew (4:1-11) and Luke (4:1-13).  Jesus was among the wild animals, but there was no danger from them. Satan was a greater danger and true enemy of Christ, whereas the wild creatures would recognize Christ as their creator. Following the temptation,  the angels served him and ministered to his needs. 


We should follow Christ into Baptism, that we may be sanctified through him. As it was for Jesus, water baptism is a public testimony, whether it be by the pouring of water or the immersion in it. For Christians, it is a public declaration of commitment to Christ. While John baptized with water, Christ baptizes with the Holy Spirit. As Christ was immersed in the water, so are we to be immersed in the Spirit. The Holy Spirit will descend upon us in peace, and seal us as God’s own. Though Christ was unknown by the world at the time it had no bearing on his mission or purpose. Those who are unknown to the world are known to God. When it is time for us to move within God’s will, so the Spirit will urge us to do so. Temptation is at its greatest after a commitment to Christ. To face the temptation of Satan is to be in alone in wilderness. Our encounter with Satan is our own personal struggle. Those who profess Christ as savior have an enemy in Satan, those he approaches deceptively. Jesus endured and overcame the enemy. He understands our human weakness. As Jesus overcame temptation, we can with his help, God’s providence, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

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