The Baptism of Jesus
(Matthew 3.13-17; Luke 3.21,22)
9About that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10As soon as Jesus came out of the water, he saw the sky open and the Holy Spirit coming down to him like a dove. 11 A voice from heaven said, “You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you.”
Jesus and Satan
(Matthew 4.1-11; Luke 4.1-13)
12At once God's Spirit made Jesus go into the desert. 13He stayed there for 40 days while Satan tested him. Jesus was with the wild animals, but angels took care of him.
Jesus comes to the Jordan River where two events occur that mark the beginning of his public ministry. First, Jesus is baptized. Given John’s vocal teaching of repentance and baptism, why did Jesus submit to a baptism of repentance? He was sinless. Secondly, why did the Holy Spirit come down to him like a dove during his baptism only to then whisk him “right away,” as Mark puts it, into the desert where Satan tested him for 40 days?
In these four verses of Mark we stand right at the crux of Jesus’ humanity and divinity. He was fully human and fully divine, not half human and half divine. He didn’t need to enter the waters of baptism because of his sin but because of ours (Matthew 3:14-15). He chose to identify himself with sinful humanity right at the beginning of his ministry to sinful humanity.
As Marks writes, Jesus saw the Holy Spirit coming down like a dove, and then a voice from heaven was heard: “You are my own dear Son, and I am pleased with you.” This was Jesus’ anointing for ministry, an anointing he claims for himself in Luke 4:18. The heavenly voice echoes Mark’s own words in verse 1: “This is the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus’ identification with human sin continues as Satan tests him for 40 days, a number that reminds us of both Moses’ (Exodus 24:18) and Elijah’s (1Kings 19:8. 15) experiences in the desert. Mark is the only writer who mentions the wild animals (v.13)—they add a layer to the experience that never ended for Jesus, for Satan tested him again and again, just as he does us
Lord God, as I try and understand your Son’s humanity and divinity, may I never lose sight of what he has done for me. Thank you for his willingness to identify with my sin. In his holy name I pray. Amen.