The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:
Look, I am sending my messenger before you.
He will prepare your way,
a voice shouting in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way for the Lord;
make his paths straight.”
John was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the Spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. And there was a voice from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness.”
At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and the angels took care of him.
Mark’s take on The Way of Jesus moves at such a fast pace that I’ve always felt like it read like a spy novel.
“It’s a dark, foggy night. A man in an trench coat and fedora is engulfed in the shadows of an alley.
Another man approaches.
After they exchange the predetermined passwords, the first man says, “Here. Take this. Read it. Memorize it. And then destroy it!”
Mark seems to just hit the highlights whereas the other books give us a lot more detail.
In this story about John the Baptiser, we are given a clue that the other Gospel writers don’t give us. Mark describes John. He says that John “wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist.”
Why is that? Why would Mark make this distinction? He’s telling us something that usually gets overlooked. We find the key from the Jewish Scriptures. In 2Kings, messengers from king Ahaziah tell the king that they were met by a messenger from G_d on their way to beseech a pagan deity. When the king asked what this messenger looked like, they replied, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” King Ahaziah knew who this was, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”
This is crucial. And the people of Jesus’ time knew this connection. The disciples even asked Jesus about this:
“(Why) do the legal experts say that Elijah must first come?”
Jesus responded, “Elijah does come first and will restore all things. In fact, I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they didn’t know him. But they did to him whatever they wanted. In the same way the Human One is also going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples realized he was telling them about John the Baptist.
If John the Baptist was “Elijah,” and Elijah came to “restore all things,” then what does that say about Jesus and his mission? It means that Jesus is G_d’s appointed king (Messiah) and that through him, G_d’s Realm will be established.
G_d’s restoration and reconciliation project has begun!
In the Love of the Three in One,
Br. Jack+, LC