Daily Devotions: January 5, 2018

Mark 1:4-8

“I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” vs. 8

Not much was going on in Nazareth, a sleepy hamlet just west of the Sea of Galilee, during the years that Jesus made it his home. Most of the action was happening in Judea and particularly in the area around the Dead Sea. A group called the Essenes had gathered in the wilderness at a place we call Qumran and had established a community that devoted itself to pure living and the copying of prophetic manuscripts. At some point it appears that one of them, a man we know as John, began baptizing and preaching along the nearby Jordan River. His popularity grew and news of his ministry reached even even as far as the Galilee. People came from everywhere to hear him and to be baptized…and ultimately Jesus came too and also submitted to baptism. Jesus then returned to Galilee proclaiming a message similar to what he’d heard from John. Some people began to wonder. Could one of these be the promised messiah, and if so, which one? For Mark there was no doubt and he begins his gospel by clearly making a distinction between Jesus and John. John was the forerunner…he prepared the way for the one who would baptize, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit. John could call for change but he couldn’t provide the power to change. That gift of grace could only come from God through the Holy Spirit of Jesus…and it’s that gift that has transformed the world!

Thought for the Day: How has the Holy Spirit changed the world?

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