Jesus comes to restore order anew
Genesis 1:1-5 and Mark 1:4-11
Baptism of Our Lord
Analysis by Mark A. Marius
1In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
4John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
“Right into the swirl of our chaos, we see God’s Son, the beloved – and God was pleased (‘it was good’).”
Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem): We are at war with the world
We have sinned. We have tarnished the goodness of God’s creation. Out of fear, out of greed, out of self-preservation, we have taken what God has created and mangled it. Instead of seeing the world as good we see the sin that exists and cause even more with the way we treat our neighbors.
Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem): We are at war within
We need to repent. Instead of trusting God to continue to provide, we have taken matters into our own hands. We are attacked on the left and on the right, and so we strike back. No one will save us, protect us, or provide for us if we don’t do it ourselves. We abandon the God we cannot see for the weapons we can get our hands on. We give up on our words that no one hears to inflict the same pain we feel.
Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem): We are at war with God
We need redemption. By abandoning our trust in God’s providence we create more chaos to the order God established. God is not serving us so we serve ourselves to our own detriment. Selfish decisions create bad relationships and incur devastating consequences. If we live by the sword, we die by the sword which cuts us off from the One that can save us.
PROGNOSIS: New creation
Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution): God restores new order
The Jordan must have been pretty filthy with all of Jerusalem and Judea’s washing their sins away in it. We may not have expected the “One more powerful than I” to wade right into it. But he does. Right into the swirl of our chaos, we see God’s Son, the beloved – and God was pleased (“it was good”). The Spirit lead him to the cross where this new order was restored on the third day, and our own baptisms received their power.
Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution): God restores us
And so we trust the voice that proclaimed us good in our baptisms. We need not go it alone but return to God again and again as we trust and live our baptism daily. We listen for God’s proclamation. We feed on God’s grace. We live as forgiven creatures.
Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution): God sends us to restore the world
But we don’t stop there. The Spirit is upon us and leads us into relationship with others. We seek restoration through the care and redemption of all that God has made. We participate in the holy work of caring for all that God has made by seeking to do justice, to protect, provide, and give security to our neighbors. This is how the waters of baptism restore the goodness of God’s creation. We participate in God’s redeeming work for all creation by proclaiming and inviting everyone in the midst of the chaos to come to the good news, to the river of baptism, to be washed, re-ordered, and proclaimed good.