Short Meditations in Mark’s Gospel: 7. The Message of a Prophet
Mk 1:7,8 And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
You wonder what people though when they listened to John the Baptist. Initially his message was one of repentance but it was repentance for a reason. The reason? There was one coming after him who was coming with power! But there was more than that; John considered this person so great that he, John, wasn’t even worthy enough to be his servant. But why would he think that? Surely John could have been a servant to a king? So this person is going to be greater than a king? What sort of person is this coming one going to be?
So what more did John say about him? He is going to baptize people in the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? Well John immersed people in water as a sign of their cleansing, so this coming one is going to immerse people in God’s Spirit? How can that be? What do we know from the past of God’s Holy Spirit? He brooded over creation (Gen 1:2), He came on a man and filled him with creative ability to design and make materials for the Tabernacle (Ex 31:3), He enabled seventy elders to prophesy (Num 11:25), He came on Balaam and enabled him to prophesy (Num 24:2,3), He came upon a variety of judges to empower them to lead (Jud 3:10, 6:34 etc.), He came upon Saul and enabled him to prophesy (1 Sam 10:10) and also stirred him to lead Israel (1 Sam 11:6) and came on David to lead (1 Sam 16:13).
In other words, whenever the Holy Spirit came, He brought power and change. So this coming one is not merely coming with words, he is coming with the power of God to change people! This is a new era! So far God’s people have sought to follow God’s rules (the Law) in order to be God’s people, but now it sounds like God Himself is coming in power to change His people on the inside. Is this what Jeremiah meant when he prophesied, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD.” (Jer 31:33,34)
Lord, let your Spirit transform my life and keep on transforming it. Thank you for the wonder of what you have done already by your Spirit because of what Jesus achieved on the Cross.