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God’s Word for You

Mark 1:5 John’s baptism

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, May 22, 2021

5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. (EHV)

The details about the location of John’s baptism and the question about whether Mark means “all the people” of Jerusalem or simply so many that scarcely anyone could be found who hadn’t gone are interesting topics, but three things here need to be stressed above all because of the sad state of theology in the present world.

We have already discussed baptism in great detail in our devotion on Matthew, Luke, John, Acts, Ephesians, and Titus. Some points should be reviewed, but here we will do this in the context of John’s baptism.

1, John’s baptism came from the same place as the baptism of Jesus. Both received their power from God. This is underscored in Luke: “The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:2-3).

2, Both baptisms contain the same material (water and the word of God).

3, Both baptisms have the same spiritual effectiveness: the forgiveness of sins. Repentance contains not only sorrow for sins but also faith in Christ. Paul said: “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus” (Acts 19:4). Baptism is therefore a means of grace, a means by which forgiveness through Christ comes to those who receive it, along with the preaching of the gospel and the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. We recently discussed arguments against the effectiveness of John’s baptism in Acts 19:1-5. I will summarize some of the points we made there:

1, The men in Acts 19 had a valid Christian baptism, but didn’t fully understand Christ. They did not need to be baptized all over again. They needed instruction.

2, The best way of understanding the words of Acts 19:5 is that Paul is simply continuing his explanation of John’s baptism as the same as Jesus’ baptism.

3, The laying on of hands and the coming of the Holy Spirit showed God’s approval on Paul’s message and on their faith in the message.

4, They spoke in tongues and prophesied. Speaking in tongues in Acts is shown to be a miraculous act of preaching the gospel (not merely speaking as one would over the morning coffee) in an unlearned language.

Baptism is one means God gives of blessing us with his grace and forgiveness. Baptism washes away sins and creates faith in Jesus. It is the initial rite into God’s family, just as circumcision was in the Old Testament. Thank God for your baptism and for the faith it brought you. Feed that faith with the word of God and with the Lord’s Supper. Its blessings last a lifetime—and forevermore.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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