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October 8, 2011

Baptism and the Holy Spirit

Mark 1:6-8

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     If you saw John the Baptist in the wilderness, you likely would have noticed his clothing right away.  From the world’s point of view, he was not dressed to look just like everyone else.  In fact, I imagine many people would have found his appearance startling.  God intended that John the Baptist have a special appearance, and draw special attention to his message from God.  Today, we will look more closely at the message of John the Baptist, but first we shall see his clothing and understand his diet.

John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist, and his diet was locusts and wild honey.

Mark 1:6

        Camel’s Hair and a Leather Belt.  In Mark 1:6,  we see that John the Baptist clothed himself with items from the wilderness.  We see no indication that John the Baptist wore a tunic and other garments that Jesus wore, but rather John the Baptist wore very simple clothing–just camel’s hair and a leather belt.  These clothes resembled the trademark clothing of Elijah the prophet: “‘What kind of man was he who came up to meet you and spoke these words to you?'”  They answered him, “He was a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” And he said, ‘It is Elijah the Tishbite'” (2 Kings 1:7-8).  Jesus identified John the Baptist as Elijah (Matthew 11:13-14), who fulfilled the prophecy of Malachi concerning Elijah’s return: “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:10). 

        Locusts and Wild Honey.  We also learn about the diet of John the Baptist.  Notice that we already know he lived a fairly isolated existence in the wilderness, without much human contact before his baptismal ministry began.  We also know that his diet consisted of locusts and wild honey.  How would you like a diet of locusts and wild honey?  John lived from the items he found in the wilderness.  Jesus specifically focused upon the social aspects of John the Baptist’s life, along with his unusual diet, when Jesus confronted His generation.  Jesus compared the life of John the Baptist with Himself.  His generation charged John the Baptist with having a demon, and John the Baptist did not come eating and drinking.  In contrast, the same generation observed Jesus eating and drinking, and charged Jesus with being a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners (Matthew 11:19).  By using this contrast, Jesus pointed out to His generation how they had failed to respond to the good news of salvation from God Himself and rejected the messengers from God for obviously untrue reasons.  Always keep in mind that Jesus was God in the flesh, and when that generation rejected Jesus, they were rejecting God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

And he was preaching, and saying, ‘After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals.’

Mark 1:7

       Mightier than I.  Jesus declared of John the Baptist that no one greater has been born among women (Luke 7:28).  In Mark 1:7,  we learn that John the Baptist had a very clear understanding of his position relative to Christ who would come.  Christ was mightier (“ἰσχυρότερός“) than John the Baptist.  This root word meaning strength and power also describes the strong force of mighty peals of thunder (Revelation 19:6).  Jesus possessed total spiritual power, far greater than any mere human.  Jesus was both fully man and fully God in the flesh.  People following him reported that: “the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:5).  We also know that Jesus calmed the storm on the sea (Mark 4:35-41) and fed thousands from a few loaves and fish (Mark 8:1-21).  John told us that all the wonderful things Jesus did were never recorded (John 21:25).  Jesus said that “for all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John” (Matthew 11:13).  Jesus now proclaims that Jesus Himself would perform great miracles, but the people would not repent.  Jesus signaled that He was indeed stronger and greater than John the Baptist, and all the Law and prophets.  He alone invited men to come to Him, because He would give them rest for their weary souls (Matthew 11:28-30).  The Mightiest Man invites you today to learn from Him, and take His yoke upon you, for He is gentle and His yoke is easy and His burden light.

I baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.

Mark 1:8

 

       Baptism with Water.  As we have already seen, John the Baptist baptized people with water because they were confessing their sins.  The water itself never cleansed anyone from sin, because salvation only comes by grace through faith in Jesus Christ dying for you on the cross, and being resurrected to live as Lord in your life (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 10:9).  John would later baptize Jesus with water, not as an act of repentance by Jesus (for Jesus was sinless), but to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3:15).  You may want to review the First Step concerning 

       Baptism with the Holy Spirit.  In Mark 1:8,  we see that Jesus will baptize believers with the Holy Spirit.  Jesus alone baptizes believers with the Holy Spirit (John 1:32-33), and if a person does not have the Holy Spirit, that person has not received Jesus Christ as Savior (Romans 8:9).  John the Baptist was filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb, and he was great in the sight of the Lord.  He would turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God (Luke 1:15-16).  The Holy Spirit was with the believers in the New Testament before Pentecost, but the Holy Spirit was not permanently indwelling them (John 14:17; Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; Acts 2:1-13).  This new indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit transforms the lives of the disciples in the New Testament, and only Jesus would baptize believers with the Holy Spirit.  One powerful evidence of the baptism and infilling of the Holy Spirit is the power and boldness to proclaim the Word of God (Act 4:31).  The very men who had deserted Jesus at His arrest days earlier, now acted with boldness in proclaiming salvation in Jesus Christ alone to the very people who had put Jesus Christ, their Master, to death.  We see the power of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives to transform them from runners and hiders to powerful proclaimers.  Today, will you proclaim the power of Jesus Christ with boldness and the power of the Holy Spirit?

        So we learn more about the ministry of John the Baptist.

   ●  The clothes definitely do not make the man.  John the Baptist dressed simply, but preached mightily about repentance. 

    ●  The diet does not make the man either.  As Jesus pointed out, John’s diet did not stop His generation from calling John the Baptist demon possessed, and then turning around and rejecting Jesus because Jesus was a friend of sinners, who was a drunkard and glutton according to them.

    ●  Jesus baptizes every believer in the Holy Spirit.  John said: He will baptize you.  That statement constituted one of the most powerful promises ever given to each believer in Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit brings the full power of God into our lives, by His presence, the moment we believe in Christ.

Application for Today

        As I live today, I will be thinking about Jesus being mightier that I will ever be.  Jesus must increase, and I must decrease.  He has baptized me with the Holy Spirit, and today I want to proclaim the love and Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.  Will you be walking in the power of the Holy Spirit today?