60 Minute Scripture Reflections #1: The Proclamation of John the Baptist

“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God:

As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, ‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,”’ John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And 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. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He 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. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’” (Mark 1:1-8, New Revised Standard Version)

Basic points:

  1. The “good news” is another way to describe the Gospel. It is easier (I think) to explain that the Gospel is good news.
  2. Baptism is “repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Repentance means to turn away (Hebrew word teshuvah) and not do something again. “For” implies causation. This means that anyone who is baptized with a heart of repentance will have their sins forgiven.
  3. There are two types of baptisms: water and the Holy Spirit. Water Baptism is that which results in the forgiveness of sins. Holy Spirit baptism isn’t explained in this passage.

Questions/What I Think:

The “good news” mentioned in this passage seems to refer to the coming of Jesus. John the Baptist is preparing people to be ready for when Jesus comes. In order to be ready, the people must be baptized with a pure heart of repentance, which means that something that John says must have convicted them in their spirits, for everyone in Jerusalem and the Judean countryside were going to be baptized. Based on my understanding of Christian theology, the Holy Spirit does the work of convicting individuals (which is not in the external sense of being convicted of a crime, but in the internal sense of having a dissatisfaction or sorrow with oneself). However, the Holy Spirit doesn’t appear on the scene until Jesus begins to be tempted by the devil. So my question #1 is about motivation: How were people convinced? Are there any details left out in the passage for why the people were convicted of their need for repentance? 

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