Mark 1:4-11 - John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, "After me comes He who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when He came up out of the water, immediately He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased."
Here we are at the end of another Christmas season. While last year was a struggle for all of us, there's joy in knowing the birth of Jesus is always a reason to rejoice! At Lutheran Hour Ministries, we hope your Christmas celebrations were meaningful and joyous—even if they looked different than years gone by.
Today's text speaks about John the Baptist. You remember him—he's the one who announced to Judea and Jerusalem that God's Son had entered the world as a Man, as Jesus Christ. In telling this event, Mark's Gospel begins with Jesus full grown. Rather than begin with the Christmas story, Mark presents Jesus at the start of His public ministry—getting baptized in the Jordan River by His locust-and-honey-eating cousin, John.
Like Old Testament prophets who proclaimed the future coming of Jesus, John too was spoken of from long ago. Writing through the Holy Spirit, Isaiah said, "A voice cries: 'In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God'" (Isaiah 40:3). That was John's job. He was to point to Jesus, so that all creation would know that Jesus is the Son of God sent to save the world from its sins (see John 3:17).
How primed the world is for this good news today! As we set out in 2021, there are many whose loss in 2020 didn't end with tearing the month of December from the calendar. They're emotionally swamped, overwhelmed by their circumstances, feeling hopeless about their futures. You may be one of these people. If you are, John's announcement in the first century still rings true now in the 21st—the Savior has come, for you and for me.
Jesus has borne our griefs; He has carried our sorrows; He was crushed for our sins. Jesus came to bear our burdens and heal us by His wounds (see Isaiah 53:4-6). And we know this is so because God Himself declared of Jesus, "You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased."
May we, like John the Baptist, see clearly how the Heavenly Father was pointing to Jesus, to the One who is always there for us.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, like John, may our lives point others to Jesus. In His Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
1. When was the last time someone shared an idea with you that seemed original (or at least highly innovative)?
2. Do you find John eating "locusts and wild honey" a little bizarre? Why would he do that?
3. Can you name three things Christians do that point to Jesus?
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