WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, JANUARY 11, 2021
Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Mark 1:9–11, where the Bible says,
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
A SAVIOR WITH HIS HANDS IN THE DIRT!
The baptism of Jesus is one of those events in the Bible that will help you come to grips with who Jesus is, who you are without him, and who you are by grace through faith in Him alone. Baptisms, as a rule, are for people who are dirty and need to get clean. Yet religious washings tend to be about more than outward personal hygiene. They are often about people getting right with God in some form or fashion. Religious washings in general are about people with “dirt” on their hands and with “dirt” in their hearts, people like us who need to get clean before God. That’s why the baptism of Jesus is so strange and yet so wonderful!
Jesus’ baptism was not one of those times when something got washed away. This was not a time when someone with “dirt” on His hands or in His heart came to be cleansed. No, this was a time when the One who cleanses hearts put His hands into the dirt of our lives. Wow! John the Baptizer was floored by this fact (see Matthew 3:14). Here he was telling people to repent and be baptized in order to prepare the way for the Messiah who would come to save the world. Just before our reading, John announced,
“After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:7-8).
So when John meets Jesus face to face, amazingly, Jesus gets down into that water with John. What’s going on? Why is Jesus doing this? To put it simply, He’s identifying His life and His work with sinners like us and, incredibly, He is taking on the work of becoming “the Lamb of God who is bearing for the taking away the sin of the world." Jesus doesn’t merely identify with us. He literally lives our life perfectly, dies our death perfectly, and gives us His eternal life as a gift. Even here, He perfectly accomplishes repentance on our behalf, and, like faith, gifts it to sinners for their salvation. In this action, Jesus takes upon His shoulders all the pain, destruction, and degradation that comes from our sin. Indeed, He takes upon himself the very sins of the world. Though He’s not the one with dirty hands, He willing puts His hands into the dirt of our lives to save us. Even more, as St. Paul declares, “For our sake he made him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21).”
In November 2010, a wedding party in Glenelg, Australia, was unexpectedly called into action right after the wedding ceremony. While they were posing for pictures on a scenic ledge, a woman who was unassociated with the wedding fell into the water and started TO DROWN. Dressed in his tuxedo, the best man jumped in and brought the woman back toward shore. Then the bride, a trained nurse, waded into the water and started administering CPR. By the time the official medics arrived, the woman had not only been rescued, she had regained consciousness. According to one safety official, she “was very lucky that the bridal party was there and they acted quickly and got her to the shallows.” After the daring rescue operation, the drenched but heroic best man and bride happily rejoined the wedding reception and continued with the festivities.
For a quick moment in time, that best man and bride were “joined” to the destiny of the woman in the water. Her fate became their concern. What a blessed opportunity it was for them to jump into the water and put their hands into the troubles of her life. When Jesus enters the waters to be baptized by John, He isn’t just doing it for a moment, as happened on that wedding day. He’s doing it for the eternity of our lives. And He doesn’t jump into pleasant waters. He jumps into the cesspools, the whirlpools, and the raging seas of our lives so that we might again know the calm that can only come by grace through faith in Him.
Jesus steps into the river Jordan for a baptism that He didn’t need to save a people who didn’t deserve it. He did it to demonstrate His solidarity with sinners, to even take our sin upon himself, so that sinners might receive God’s forgiveness and mercy IN HIM. He’s a Savior with His hands in the dirt of our lives so that we might receive the cleansing grace that only His life, death, and resurrection can give. What a Savior! What a blessing!
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thankfully You willingly jumped into the mess of our world and of our lives so that we might receive Your peace and joy. May we grow to know the depths of Your baptism as it prefigures your willingness to endure the cross for us all. AMEN.
 Best man jumps off Glenelg Jetty to save woman, News.com.au (11-29-10)