30 December 2015

Mark 1:4-11

“I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (v. 8)

Psalm: Psalm 149:1-5


John the Baptist was an odd-looking bloke, dressed in distressed camel hair and coarse fabrics, eating grasshoppers dipped in wild honey. But boy, could he preach! He lived in the remote waste lands, on the wrong side of the Jordan, in Arab territory. You'd think he was trying to get away from everyone, but they came to him in droves. Though no one knew who he was, or where he came from, he just popped up like so many other mystics, sages, 'Messiahs' … Some said his father was a priest, or that he was Jesus' cousin … Not that any of that mattered. He was too busy baptizing people, rebirthing them, and preaching old school religion.

From his watery pulpit, standing in the middle of the Jordan, he preached sermons like this:

You need a fresh start.
You'll never get one unless you reject your past.
Put it behind you,
make amends,
make God your starting point.
But don't just take it from me.
Someone else is coming,
his preaching is hot,
he's really going to blow your minds.
I'm just the understudy,
tying up his sandals.
I've rebirthed you with water,
he's going to rebirth you with fire!

When he's finished a stranger comes up, John baptizes him too. The cloudy sky clears for a moment, just above him, and an incredibly bright ray of sunlight shines on him, followed by a loud crash of thunder. Years later, the people who were there, and a whole bunch of storytellers, say that they heard God speak to him, 'You're the One! I'm proud of you.'

To Ponder

  • Why do you think people flocked to hear John the Baptist? Who do people flock to hear today?
  • What do repentance, baptism and rebirth mean to you?

Bible notes author

Julian Bond

Julian works for the Connexional Team as the grants team leader. Previous to that he was the director of the Christian Muslim Forum, which is built on friendship between a group of Christians and Muslims, showing how faith is a catalyst for good relationships and welcomes the 'other'.