Sunday

10 January 2021

Mark 1: 4-11

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (v. 4)

Psalm 29

Background

Throughout the Bible water symbolises cleansing, refreshing and fullness of life with God. Ritual washing and purification rites were common in Jewish tradition, but John the Baptiser, establishes a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. The sacrament of baptism continues to symbolise the washing away of sin and being raised to new life in Christ.

Two things strike me in this passage.

Firstly, repentance is a lot more than just feeling a bit sorry for the wrong things we have done. The Greek word used for repentance, metanoia, means a complete change of mind and direction. If we truly repent, it means that we will be sorry but also have a desire to completely turn away from the things that cause harm to ourselves and others, and will seek God’s strength to live in a different way. Words are cheap but Jesus says that if we are genuine, we will be known by the fruits we bear in our lives. In Galatians 5:22-23 we read that "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." I find it helpful to ask myself if these characteristics are growing in my own life and to seek God’s help with the aspects of my character I find more challenging.

The second thing that speaks to me in this reading is that John was clearly developing quite a following. Maybe people were drawn by his eccentric appearance and lifestyle, but clearly people were also seeking God through his message. Yet despite his following, John always points away from himself and towards Jesus. It is very easy to seek affirmation and praise for the things we do, but it takes discipline and true humility to point people away from ourselves and to give all the glory to Jesus. If we are able to do that, then it won’t bother us who gets the credit for the good we do, so long as God is honoured, but it can be tempting to want to keep the focus on ourselves.

I pray that today, we will ask God to grow the fruits of the Spirit in our lives and that we will give glory to Jesus in all we do.

To Ponder:

  • Are the fruits of the Spirit evident in your own life? Which one do you particularly find a challenge?
  • Do you find it easy to point people away from yourself and towards Jesus? Have you the confidence to be humble, or do you feel the need to push yourself centre stage?

Prayer

Lord forgive us when we have said we are sorry but not demonstrated the reality of that by our actions. Please grow the fruits of the Spirit in our lives so that our walk matches our talk. Please forgive us for the times we have sought the spotlight and forgotten to give credit to you and others. Help us know our value and worth to you so that we are content to put Jesus on the throne of our lives. Amen.


Bible notes author

Carolyn Lawrence

Carolyn Lawrence is the Vice-President of the Methodist Conference for 2020/2021. A former teacher and mission partner in Guyana, she has most recently been working with the Global Relationships team of the Methodist Church. She is also part of the ‘World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women’, serving as the Area Officer for Great Britain. She and her husband have two grown-up married daughters and three grandchildren.

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