We read about the story of Jesus receiving the Baptism of John, but what we’re going to talk about today is you receiving the Baptism of Jesus!
Mark 1:4-11 John the Baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “One who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven and said, “You are my Beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Today we read about the Baptism of Jesus – but we’re not going to talk about the Baptism of Jesus, we’re going to talk about — the Baptism of Jesus.
What’s the difference? One “baptism of Jesus” is actually the baptism of John, but the other “baptism of Jesus” is…the baptism of Jesus!
We read about the story of Jesus receiving the baptism of John, but what we’re going to talk about today is you receiving the baptism of Jesus.
John says, I baptize with water – but Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit. That’s the “baptism of Jesus” we’re going to talk about.
Now, I’m not going to stretch the words of the Bible too far to make my clever point. Because actually, while they are a different baptism, the baptism of Jesus came from the baptism of John. One came first in order that the second may come after.
Now that doesn’t mean that just because the baptism of John came first, it’s better than the baptism of Jesus. We’re all Bible geeks here, and we know the first is last and the last is first. But more importantly, John baptizes with water, and Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is superior to water, right?
The Holy Spirit is living water for the person who has faith in God. If you have this living water, you’ll never thirst. You’ll have hope when others have lost theirs; you’ll have confidence when others have doubt; you’ll have courage when others are afraid.
This living water is the water of the baptism of Jesus, it’s the Holy Spirit.
The Bible tells us that when Paul first came to Ephesus, he found some who had received only John’s baptism – it says they were people of faith, but they hadn’t even heard about the Holy Spirit. So, they get baptized into the name of Jesus, and then Paul lays his hands on them, and they are baptized with the Holy Spirit. Acts 19. This tells us that the baptism of Jesus is superior to the baptism of John.
So, here’s the thing — for those of you listening between the lines, the sermon ends there! Because in that story alone, we have an amazing revelation from God that will change your life. But if anyone missed it, I’m not going to leave you hanging — I’m going to pan for the gold and help polish it from the pulpit, so we can all see it clearly.
Because the revelation that scripture gives you here is your salvation, your joy, the pearl of great price with your name on it. It’s the key to unlocking your life, and setting free the beauty that God intends to put in your life with His own hands.
But before we get all the way to this revelation about the baptism of Jesus, let’s go back to the baptism of John. Because the Baptism of Jesus – the baptism of the Holy Spirit — it starts there.
The Gospel of Mark tells us that when John baptizes Jesus, the Holy Spirit descends like a dove. So the baptism of John unlocked the baptism of the Holy Spirit – for Jesus. And watch what happens next: a voice from heaven says, “You are my Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
This is not the first time we’ve seen words like this from God in the Bible. In Psalm 2 we read, “You are my Son – today I have begotten you.” Everyone who heard heaven speak over Jesus in the Jordan knew this scripture and knew it well. And this scripture is the key to our revelation about the baptism of Jesus. It says, “You are My Son; today I have begotten you. Ask Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance, the ends of the earth Your possession. You will break them with an iron scepter; you will shatter them like pottery.”
Powerful words. Militaristic works. Royal words. This Psalm came vividly to life for all those who heard God’s voice echo over the Jordan as John pulled Jesus out of the water.
Now, John was a prophet – and according to Jesus, not just a prophet: more than a prophet, a prophet who fulfills prophecy, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” foretold by Malachi. People went out to the wilderness to see John the Prophet, but when Jesus came to be baptized, they saw more – they saw God Himself anointing a King with the Holy Spirit.
Now, what shape did the Holy Spirit come in? A dove. We know that image well, the gentle dove of the Holy Spirit. But what you may have overlooked is the military imagery that would have undoubtedly come to mind to those Jews present when they heard heaven quote Psalm 2 over Jesus of Nazareth. The iron scepter. “You will break them with an iron scepter.”
So we go from a gentle dove to an iron scepter in the same breath. What does this mean? It means no less than “Jesus is King” – this is a royal anointing. Once upon a time, a prophet would anoint a king with oil – but in this scene, one who is more than a prophet is the means by which one who is more than a King is baptized and anointed in the Holy Spirit by God Himself.
This day of Jesus’ baptism, this is the day that God the Father reveals Jesus as the King of Kings, the Christ, Moshiach, the Anointed One – and more than that, His Beloved Son.
So this is what I meant when I said, the Baptism of Jesus came from the Baptism of John: because it wasn’t until John baptized Jesus that Jesus was revealed as the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.
Now, this is little scripture is far more powerful for you than you realize. You might be thinking, “I know all of this already. I know John baptized Jesus, and the Holy Spirit came down on Jesus – hallelujah, and praise Jesus! Good for him! Right? But aside from being yet another reason for me to give glory to Jesus, what does that have to do with me?”
Well – that’s probably the same question those disciples in Ephesus asked Paul. What’s the importance of this Baptism of Jesus?
People of God – church – have you been baptized? And which baptism – John’s or Jesus’? Jesus. You were baptized into the name of Jesus, just like Peter said on Pentecost: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Now I ask you, when you were baptized, do you remember hearing a voice from heaven? I do as clear as day: “This is my Son, Sean Selig McMahon – in whom I’m well pleased.” Just kidding. No, I heard no such thing. I wish. And you probably didn’t either – if you did, let’s talk! – but you probably didn’t.
But that doesn’t mean that God didn’t say it. Oh yes – I am making the claim that God is also calling you His beloved Son, His beloved daughter.
I can prove it from the Bible.
Reason 1. “Faith is the assurance of what we hope for and the certainty of what we do not see”…or hear. And surely, can we admit it in our heart of hearts, that what we hope for, what we long for, is to hear our Creator say to us, “You are my beloved child, and I am so pleased with you.” This is the God of our faith. And when we go into that baptism, that is the leap of faith we’re taking.
In bowing our head beneath the waters of baptism, and offering ourselves to be cleansed by him and taking his name, we are saying emphatically, “I believe in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and I believe that God so loved the world, loved me, that He sent His only Son to die for me, and sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts crying ‘Abba, Father!’”Congregation, admit it: you want to be in the Family of God – you want Him to be your Father. You believe He is your Father. That means your believe you are his Son, His daughter. And the Bible tells you, that’s exactly the very substance of the Christian faith: what you believe is true.
Reason 2. Let’s go back to Psalm 2: “You are My Son; today I have begotten you.” Lest you think these are just words for Jesus and Jesus alone, and that it’s mere wishful thinking to hope that they’re addressed to us, even when we get baptized, I ask you this question: are the words of Psalm 2 anywhere else in the Bible? Because the key to all Biblical interpretation is this: the Bible interprets the Bible. The Word of God interprets the Word of God. Some of the most puzzling passages in the Bible are often echoed elsewhere, and allow us to better understand their meaning by their multiple usages. Like in a spelling bee, we can ask the Bible for a “definition” of a “word”, or when that’s not enough “to use it in a sentence”, so to speak, to shed some additional light on the meaning.
So are the words of Psalm 2 echoed anywhere else? We already discussed earlier how they’re in the Gospels – the “You are my Son” part. But did you know the rest of it is in the book of Revelation? – the part that says — “Ask Me, and I will make the nations Your inheritance, the ends of the earth Your possession. You will break them with an iron scepter; you will shatter them like pottery.” — that part is in Revelation.
Why does it matter that this bit of Psalm 2 also crops up in Revelation? Let’s read where Revelation borrows Psalm 2 and find out:
“And to the one who overcomes and continues in My work until the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron scepter and shatter them like pottery —just as I have received authority from My Father.”
These are the words of Jesus himself. Last week, we talked about this verse also. We noticed that Jesus says, “the one who overcomes and continues in my work until the end, I will give authority over the nations.”
He’s saying, “I’ve got the power, I’ve got the authority, and if you do my work, I’m going to give you the same power and authority, because I’m the King of Kings, and I’m raising up a Kingdom of Kings under my authority.”
But now, notice he also says, “He will rule them with an iron scepter and shatter them like pottery” (and he adds), “just like me.” It’s an exact quote from Psalm 2 – you will rule with an iron scepter and shatter the nations like pottery. You will be given authority over the nations. These are the words of Psalm 2 – these are the promises from God to His Son, his child. And here is the unshakeable proof that this promise is also for You!
But, what reward is this promise? What good is an iron scepter? What is the iron scepter? The iron specter is authority, and the only true authority is the God of truth. This iron scepter is not to “shatter them like pottery” in a brutal and violent way, but in a way consistent with spiritual warfare: “for we fight not against flesh and blood, but powers and principalities.” This iron scepter is just like the double-edged sword that proceeds from Jesus’ mouth, a spiritual weapon with spiritual power for spiritual warfare.
We see that God first fulfills this Psalm 2 promise to Jesus as he rises out of the Jordan river. And as he rises out of the Jordan, a dove descends. So this is the first part of the divine revelation we’re discovering today: that the iron scepter that shatters the nations is also the gentle dove, the spirit of truth.
The second part of this divine Biblical revelation is that the very words that reveal this truth — “You are my Son,” Psalm 2, Revelation 2 – they’re directed not just to Jesus in the Jordan, but to us in the Church.
Not just to Jesus, but to you.
The Iron Sceptor is the Gentle Dove. I want us to take these words to heart for such a time as this. What happened at our nation’s capitol this past week is the cherry on top of a year of riots and dysfunction in our nation; anger and blame.
2020 and now the dawn of 2021 is like an Olympic Games for the iron scepter of the world – with so much of our cities and neighborhoods and lives smashed like pottery. But that is not the iron scepter of God. The Iron Sceptor of God is the Gentle Dove. It’s the Spirit of Truth. And again, and again, and again, I will re-affirm: the ultimate truth is that God is Love.
To stand for this truth is what it means to have authority from the Father; this is the iron scepter with which we will smash our nation like pottery: LOVE, the gentle dove of love.
Heads up – BEWARE – a lot of folks want you to be a part of their movement — in Biblical speak, their ministry or their administration, right now – many administrations vying for power. What choice will you make?
The Bible says, there is the administration of death, and the administration of life? I can tell you this: the ministry of life has one Lord, and many administrations (1st Corinthians) – many administrations, and I want to emphasize that. Many options. Because even though the way to life is straight and narrow, the word of God affirms that the way to life is filled with many options, many ways – many administrations under one Lord.
As for the administration of death, it’s a broad way, but a dead end you get tricked into walking by believing there aren’t enough choices.
Not enough choices — Nonsense! God has promised you “the glorious freedom of the children of God.” Romans 8. Where there is freedom, you have choices. God is the Creator – there is always a way, and if it looks like there isn’t a way, you’re not being creative enough to see our Creator’s ways.
If anyone tries to tell you “you only have one choice” or “you only have two choices”, beware. What is freedom but the right to choose? Beware of anyone who would take that away from you. Trust me: it’s an old problem in the church, the problem of “false brethren secretly brought in, who come in secretly to infiltrate our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into slavery.”
Your iron scepter is the gentle dove, the Holy Spirit. Slavery is not gentle. A heavy yoke is not gentle. Remember, a yoke is an instrument of submission. We talked about this last week. The Bible says, “Do not be unequally yoked with the unfaithful.” This means, don’t submit to unfaithful people who won’t treat you as equals – don’t do it — even though the Bible also says “submit to all human authority”.
It’s not a contradiction. It’s not “either/or”, it’s “both/and”. You cannot serve two masters. You’re called to serve the master who sends you the Spirit of truth, who gives you the iron scepter that’s a gentle dove. Being gentle means you both submit to authority in order to minister gentleness, and you refuse an unequal yoke because you will not enable anyone who would harm or exploit the gentle.
And if you can receive it, this altogether is what is means to turn the other cheek.
I heard a great story from the Duck Commander himself, Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty, that illustrates this principle. He said that he had some thieves coming around stealing his fish from his traps, back when he was a trapper. One day, when the thieves came, he was waiting for them with an iron scepter of his own – his big ole rifle. And you probably think the next thing that happens is fireworks.
But instead, he says, rifle pointed, “You boys help yourself to whatever you need, and you go on your way. I’m giving it to you. And if you need more, you come right back here, same time next week, and I will give you more. And you can keep coming back, every week if you want. I’ll be here and so will the fish. I’ll give it to you, you don’t have to steal it. Because Jesus saved me from my sins, and I want to pay it forward by saving you from some of your own.”
Do you see what he did? He offered mercy instead of condemnation. Grace instead of the law — because, by rights of law — at least in Lousiana — Phil could have shot them dead, fulfilling the whole scripture that the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin comes from law. See how that works? You break the law, you come under the power of sin, and now helpless to the sting of death.
But even though Phil carried an iron scepter with bullets, it sounds more like he chose to open fire with the iron scepter of the Holy Spirit, “heaping hot coals” — instead of bullets — on those thieves’ heads, by feeding them when they were hungry, just as the proverb says.
This is what it means to “overcome evil with good.”
This is the way of the Holy Spirit. This is what it really means to be baptized by Jesus. There’s as many ways to do it as there are stars in the sky. Had Phil Robertson only seen 2 choices – kill or be killed – then that’s all he would have gotten. But instead, he chose life, with its Creator God of many creative solutions – he chose life, and life abundantly is what he got, and the thieves. If I recall correctly, Phil Robertson said that every one of those thieves eventually became not just friends, but baptized and saved.
If you would choose life – then you will die to yourself. This is the ultimate lesson of the Baptism of Jesus – the Baptism of the Cross. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the baptism of self-sacrifice. This is our baptism also. “Or aren’t you aware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6)
This is the Baptism of Jesus. This is your baptism. Listen again to the words of Our Father, to you, personally, you who believe and have faith in God, you who have been baptized into Christ Jesus:
“You are my beloved Son, You are my beloved daughter; with you I am very well-pleased.”