November 7, 2004

Mark 1:4-5

Category: Bible - NT - Mark :: Permalink

Mark 1:4-5
(September 6, 2004 Sermon Notes)

In Mark’s Gospel, John the Baptist seems to appear out of nowhere. Mark doesn’t give us the background Luke does. Instead, he simply presents John as the fulfillment of the prophecies quoted in 1:2-3. John is the messenger who prepares the Lord’s way.


It’s important to note that John’s baptism takes place in the wilderness. At the Exodus, Israel left Egypt and went into the wilderness. By calling people out to the wilderness, John is calling them to a new Exodus. But that implies that, through her sin, Israel herself has become a new Egypt from which God’s people need to be delivered.

John’s baptism is in line with other washings we find in the Old Covenant. People who touched corpses or who contracted leprosy had to be washed before they could return to the community and take part in the worship of God. To draw near to God, you had to pass through water.

John’s baptism takes place in the Jordan River. The Jordan was the boundary of the Promised Land. Paul says that the crossing of the Red Sea was a “baptism” (1 Cor. 10). So, too, the crossing of the Jordan was a baptism. Israel passed through the water in order to enter the Promised Land to serve God there.

By calling Israel out to the wilderness, John is enacting a new Exodus. By washing people in the Jordan, John is enacting a new entrance into the Promised Land. His baptism involves repentance, the recognition that Israel’s sin has separated her from God. His baptism is also preparation for a future forgiveness of sins, the great event of restoration which would come about through Jesus Christ.


Mark says that all the people in the land and the people of Jerusalem came out to John to be baptized. From the other Gospels, we learn that there were exceptions.

But Mark wants to stress how widespread the response to John’s preaching was. As John’s baptism foreshadows what Jesus would accomplish, so the response to John’s baptism foreshadows the success of Jesus’ mission: “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You. For the kingdom is the LORD’s, and He rules over the nations” (Ps. 22:27-28).

Posted by John Barach @ 6:16 pm | Discuss (0)

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