Mark 1:9-13

Welcome the Lord; Observe the Scripture

[No pic this week :(]

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.

13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Recognise What is true

Verse 9: Jesus comes out to John to be baptised. Baptism is about repentance and forgiveness. If Jesus is without sin, why does he seek baptism? Is baptism important even without sin? Perhaps, although Jesus is without sin, he doesn’t “assume” he is without sin, or claim entitlements on that basis.

Verse 11: I enjoy saying this phrase about my son, only half in jest because it is true. I also wonder about God saying it to me (& by extension to everyone, or at least to those who have sought and received baptism). A confirmation of my intimate relationship with God, and of his continuing love and support.

Verses 10 & 12: The Spirit acts immediately on baptism. In verse 10 it descends on the baptisee (?), then in verse 12 it drives the baptisee out into the wilderness. Seeking and receiving baptism is an invitation to the Spirit. More mundanely and practically, I could see myself being filled with enthusiasm after such a landmark event.

Verses 12 & 13: Why does the Spirit drag me off into the wilderness to face trials? What does that mean? (In this passage I am seeing Christ as a kind of everyman, and this episode as a description of baptism.) The Holy Spirit objectively knows the best path from where I am now to salvation, and will pull me along that path. Being pulled along that path will force me to face certain obstacles and confront certain weaknesses. Thse confrontations will be the ones that are necessary, whether I like it or not — not the ones I would chose. The Spirit confronts Jesus with the Devil himself.

From a more psychological perpective: when I am enthused and inspired by baptism and the Holy Spirit, my internal battle becomes stronger — not just to forego indulgence today, but to become a new kind of person. As well as my desire to be good and to follow Jesus, I have these other desires and weaknesses — lust, anxiety, sarcasm, … I have to own up and admit I enjoy these things. These demons (which are part of me) will put up more of a fight when they know I am trying to give them up for good.

Though to take

I am very struck that even Jesus seeks out and receives baptism, even when surely he needs no forgiveness. That speaks of a profound humility, which I love.

I haven’t taken baptism but I do feel that my struggles have heightened since I’ve been thinking of myself as Christian. I had been experiencing those struggles as personal failures. Verse 13 tells me (I think) that the Spirit is dragging me to face these challenges. These are the things I must overcome and leave behind. I must make that decision now rather than later.


  • Seek and receive baptism
  • The Holy Spirit brings challenges as well as guidance

Help, Yield

Over the past few weeks, remembering that the Holy Spirit brings challenges has helped me push myself through difficulty, resist indulgence, and give attention and affection to others (even when I am struck down by Man Flu!).

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