Baptism and the Passion of Christ

 

Christ tempted

 

 

“It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.” (Mark 1, 9-13)

We read Mark’s account of the baptism of Jesus this year and we will read from his gospel all this year.

Mark’s account of the baptism and temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is the most succinct of the four gospels. Only five sentences. The theophany at the Jordan is quickly over. The heavens are open, and the Spirit, like a dove, descends on him. “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased,” a voice from heaven says.

But then, the Spirit drives him out into the desert “at once.” He’s tempted for forty days, and the forty days point to a lifelong experience Jesus has. Wild beasts will always be in the world he lives in, and angels will always minister to him. Mark does not name his temptations either, they’re varied throughout his life. Ours are too.

The heavens open at baptism, all the gospels say. But more than the others, Mark’s gospel says that baptism calls us to participate in the Passion of Christ. His account and his gospel are important for understanding what baptism means for us.

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