“Jesus' Baptism, Temptation, Preaching & Presence”
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord,my Rock,and my Redeemer! AMEN
Today is the 1st Sunday in the season of Lent. And the gospel message is taken from Mark 1: 9-15 !
Lent is the 40 day period,just before Easter when the people of the Church get naked. No, we don't literally take off our clothing (although we strip the altars and remove the flowers),but in a way that is perhaps even a little more disturbing....for we come face to face with ourselves, confess to God and our fellow man as we acknowledge our need of repentance as we contemplate Calvary and the temptations and suffering Christ endured on our behalf. During Lent we remove the material covering that we place over the dark and private aspects of our lives,examining our hearts,victims to the world's values, and ask Christ to come and illumine us.
A little girl at Sunday School was busy drawing and colouring for some time,so she was asked...What are you drawing? She replied...A picture of God! A picture of God, said the teacher?... but no one knows what God is like!.. quick as a flash she replied... Well, they will know when I am finished !
As funny as that story may seem it set me thinking and helped to form the basis for this sermon based on St. Mark's gospel. How do we really see God?
Many children and some adults have the idea of an old kindly man with a long beard somewhere in the clouds. But today why not look at a God that is not distant at all. Today's Gospel shows we have a God who is with us, who draws alongside people in
3 ways - 1.In Jesus' BAPTISM
2.In Jesus' TEMPTATION.
3.In Jesus' PREACHING & PRESENCE
Right from the beginning of this passage God affirms to us how He considers His Son Jesus. He tells us Jesus is His beloved Son. This is key. In Ephesians 1:6 the scripture tells us that WE are blessed in the beloved (i.e. Jesus)We too,are God's Beloved sons and daughters. (John 20:21)
Let us the view God today as seen through Jesus...
Many went to John to be baptised. Convicted of their sins they wanted to make a fresh start with God...and so do we. Jesus though we must remember,never sinned. Jesus, however,submitted to baptism to show that He identified with humanity,and especially those who admit their sins and want to make a new start with God.
The baptism of Jesus also heralded the start of his public ministry. He was also anointed by God as he embarks on his role as the Messiah. The one to deliver God's people from sin and death,restoring God's Kingdom.
The Spirit appears as a dove from Heaven,symbolising,gentleness,purity,
deliverance and love.
This is the true picture of our God....
God the Father, God the Son,and God the Holy Spirit- in UNISON- God with us !
We see a God who loves us so much,that He became one of us. ( leaving the glory of heaven,born in a stable and humbling himself even to death on a cross)
This picture of our God is one that should lead us to humility ,love ,wonder ,gratitude, praise,thanksgiving,and devotion. As Romans 12:1 reminds- as whole soled “living sacrifices”...
When we repent and get baptised/ confirmation we die to our old life and rise to new life with Jesus. The result.....
WE HAVE A GOD WHO IS WITH US!
Let us now consider
2. in Jesus' TEMPTATION-
Next we see Jesus going into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Mark (does not give the details as other gospels) but,he does say Jesus was tempted! And, that there were wild animals around also. Yes the accuser,Satan was there to try and deflect Jesus from God's way. Jesus was tempted and so He can empathise with us when we are tempted...Heb4:15
Mark is showing the parallel with our walk with God as His beloved children and warns us to expect temptations as we go through this wilderness world led by the Holy Spirit.
We also should note that there will be wild animals around – Satan's little helpers! We have always to be on our guard! The seven letters of Christ in Revelation, Chapters 2 and 3 serve as a reminder to us!
Jesus set the pattern for his ministry and for us- which is to to successfully stand up/resist Satan and his followers.
Let us continue to study, learn and understand God's word so that like Jesus we can say: It is written to any adversary! There is a vital extra or bonus for us also - while we are in God's will we have supernatural help at hand, 24/7. the angels... Jesus also said 'Ask and it would be done unto you'. So let's confirm with God every morning that we want those protecting angels around ourselves and our family every day!
In the same way, let's ask for and thank God for OUR attending angels as we do His work.
Our 3rd and final snapshot of God...is in Jesus' PREACHING & PRESENCE
In verse 14 and 15 we get a glimpse of Jesus as He starts His ministry to publish the Gospel to all and sundry.
Remember 'As the Father sent Jesus, Jesus sends us' – all of us'. One may be called to lead people in a particular ministry that Jesus authorises but the work of ministry of prayer and sharing the good news falls to all of us! We must do our part in our circle of influence so as to hear the Master say,at the end, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
Mark's gospel is an outstanding work, directed by Holy Spirit who inspired all scripture. This section shows us how Jesus' life is the model for us to follow.
Jesus came into the world and lived fully human so that He could show us what a life entirely guided by Holy spirit looks like.
He did nothing through His own power. He was obedient to the Father in unity with the Holy Spirit,the blueprint and perfect example of what God is like .In addition,we can well imagine the perfect Christian life !
We can know the will of God- the PREACHING and PRESENCE of Jesus! We read and study the Bible,daily, and come to know Him as our Saviour, Lord and Friend.
That is the revolutionary thing about the Christian Faith. The Kingdom,or rule of God is so near! God lives in every believer by His Spirit. Let Holy Spirit be our guide in the wilderness of this age.
At this Lenten season(started last Wednesday-known as Ash Wednesday-repent of your sins,simply invite Jesus into your life to be Lord and Saviour. Put Kingdom interests first in your life, Reflect God and His righteousness,and not only will all other desired things be added to you but others will see in you the finished picture -the blessing, the beauty and the glory of God reflected!..and in His Church unity and love where others can come,meet the Living Lord in its members and it's worship!