PODCAST: Watermark (January 8, 2012)

In the Four Gospels—John doesn’t specifically mention Jesus’ baptism. Mark gives us a very brief description (unlike Matthew & Luke that give us quite a bit of imagery in their accounts). It is in Matthew’s gospel we see a great introduction and a fuller understanding of John who would be that “Voice Crying in the Wilderness”  Matthew states:


In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea  and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”     Matthew 3:1-2

  John was preaching (from the Greek word kēryssō). Usually meaning proclamation by  govt. official/edict. Here Matthew is describing the way in which John shared his message (as of utmost importance). John specifically mentions this proclamation was to Repentance-(Greek metanoeō). A popular understanding of Repent is to turn around (technically that is true) However, Metanoeōe means more specifically-Change your Mind/Perception. John says for the Kingdom of God is Near. The original mindset was God was up there & so was his kingdom-Jesus as coming to change all that.  Mark tells us in his gospel: 

He (John)lived in the wilderness and was preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned from their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.  Mark 1:4 

First, a new idea of changing your understanding: God’s Kingdom is Here. Then be Baptized . Symbolizing a transformation…from our old understanding of things that separate us from God to a new understanding of forgiveness & grace-Jesus brings in God’s Kingdom on Earth. Mark records John the Baptizer telling the crowds who were coming to be baptized/transformed: 

Someone is coming soon who is far greater than I am — so much greater that I am not even worthy to be his slave. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”   Mark 1:7-8 

Someone far greater (Greek-Ischyros)- A reference to the mythological character we know better by the Latin name Icarus. Icarus had a father who made for him wings to fly (until Icarus became prideful). Unlike this character, Jesus was coming with powers created by His Father to demonstrate and to teach to those who would follow him. John the Baptizer adds, I Baptize with water (to remind you of transformation from what separates us from God). Jesus, is coming to facilitate God living inside us in the person of the Holy Spirit (symbolized by fire)—True Transformation.  Then One Day…Mark tells us…Jesus appears. In his brief description of Jesus baptism we are told: 

And when Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens split open   Mark 1:10 

The Heavens…Split Open (Ripped/Torn). Mark uses this word one other time that is immediately following Jesus’ death we’re told: 

Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.  Mark 15:37-38 

Jewish Tradition in mourning is to rip/tear you clothes…The word Mourning & Morning have similar means in the definition of Morning is the time just after Darkness. It is in Mourning we experience the same thing. Tearing clothes symbolized letting God’s light is. Even in the darkest times we need to turn to God to let in Light. That is what happened on the day of Jesus baptism. That is what happened on the first Christmas in Bethlehem, on the day of Epiphany with the magi who followed a star and there on the banks of the River Jordan. What followed that day as the sky was opened the Holy Spirit descended like a dove. By the grace of God this still happens as we let in His Light. Then finally Mark tells us… 

And a voice came from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with you.”   Mark 4:11 

When God says “fully” pleased..He means “finally” pleased…Though Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah-were great…they had their limitations. God is saying Jesus is THE ONE…(The Epiphany/Revelation as His Son). Anointed with Baptismal Waters to bring all people to God. That is why this is such an important part of who we are as Christians when we first come to acknowledge or desire to be transformed. We remember our baptism and that same anointing Jesus received. 

So, as we celebrate the opportunity Jesus provided for all of us through his Baptism. I am reminded of a friend years ago in the printing business. Talked about certain fine paper that came with a Watermark.

A Watermark is described as: A recognizable image or pattern in paper that appears as various shades of lightness/darkness when viewed by transmitted light 

Baptism is the same for us. We are marked for life with the spiritual “Watermark” of the one who saves us. It is by His Light…He ultimately transforms our lives for all to see.