The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
Watch closely: I'm sending my preacher ahead of you;
He'll make the road smooth for you.
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God's arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!
John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
As he preached he said, "The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will change your life. I'm baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out."
Note: I will be reading Mark in The Message by Eugene Peterson. I find Peterson’s translation to be remarkably helpful in challenging my preconceived notions about the text. While I wouldn’t use it to study or preach from, The Message is fantastic for devotional reading.
The kingdom life that is driven by the Holy Spirit will change you from the inside out.
When we start following Jesus we come face to face with a reality that our lives must be transformed. This transformation occurs as we embrace a deeper, fuller, more rich understanding of subversive-gracious-love. The subversive-gracious-love of Christ demands to be embodied in us.
The Holy Spirit lives in us. This Holy Spirit that gave Christ power and perseverance is in every person who seeks to follow Christ. As a result, the follower of Christ is being renewed day by day.
What is this renewal?
It is a renewal of the image of God in us.
This image of God has been tarnished by the sin-sickness that infects every aspect of our being. We see it in our selfishness, our greed, our rage, our evil thoughts, and our self-centered relationships with God, neighbor, and enemy.
One day I was sitting in my mentor’s office and we were talking about the reality of the Spirit being within us. I shared with him that I really didn’t like the idea all that much and that if I was really honest it frightened me a great deal. He asked the only reasonable question, “Why?”
Why was I afraid of God’s Spirit dwelling in me?
That really was the question.
My answer then, is the same as my answer now.
I am afraid to set aside my perceived control over my life.
I like the idea that I am in control of everything.
I like the idea that I can make my life work.
I like the idea that I am the captain of my destiny.
I don’t like the idea of submitting my life to God.
I don’t like the idea of giving up my control to God.
I don’t like the idea that someone else has power over me.
You see, I’m sin-sick. I need a physician that deals with my soul. There is a change and a renewal that has to happen and that I cannot fix on my own.
Thankfully, the Spirit of God is at work in me. This Holy Spirit that I’m afraid of, is the same Holy Spirit that is breaking me of my fear, that is healing me of my sin-sickness, and is making me well.
Day by day my old life is being exchanged for a kingdom life.
It’s painful at times.
But, it is worth it.
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