Friday, October 8, 2010

On whom are you focused for living today? Yourself? or God?

Mark 1:4-13 NLT    
  4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven. 5 All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. 6 His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. 
  7 John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!” 
  9 One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” 
  12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.

The Apostle Mark had a way of compressing lengthy episodes into a line or two. He would have made a good staff writer for Readers' Digest, I suspect. He gives us three episodes in these few verses, each of which has occupied full length books by other authors.  But, then Mark was writing for an audience of ONE-- the Lord God who inspired him. And he wrote to fulfil God's purpose and communicate God's message so it was not up to him to make the book sell-able. He simply told the story he knew in his heart-- Jesus Christ came from God, became human, fulfilled the long-prophesied sacrifice for humanity's sin, over came death, and returned to God to reconcile all who would believe back to God.

He describes the ordained herald of the Anointed Lamb of God-- John. The key point of John baptising was that Christ submitted himself to be baptized in public view, to fulfil all. While all were confessing their Sins, the One who knew no sin was baptized for their confessions, as he would later pay for their sins with his life. John's own testimony about the Christ was sufficient to settle the matter but the human leaders began to resist from that very point and continued until they had been manipulated by Satan to take the life of the Lamb of God. Of course none of them understood that they could never 'take' what was given so freely by Christ and by God.But John's voice was not the only voice. There was the voice of God, Himself saying "you are my loved Son, and you bring me great Joy."

After the baptism, Mark fast-forwards the story to Christ in the wilderness facing temptation for forty days. Other Gospel writers fill in the details, but they were not as important to Mark. His point was the Christ suffered temptation. In the other Gospel accounts we learn how potentially overpowering those temptations were. Hunger and dehydration after 40 days without food OR water! Who among us could endure that and even live?  Then being challenged to perform miracles to prove his power, if only to satisfy his needs would have been a test that few, if any of us, could have faced in our own strength, had we lived those 40 days. Afterword, the famous short cut-- just worship me and you won't have to go through all this stuff, I'll go away and leave them all alone" was what the Enemy said. Of course he lied. He could do nothing but lie so never can a promise by Satan be taken as worth anything at all. But Mark sums all this up in the phrase "tempted by Satan for 40 days." And when it was over, mark points out that God restored Christ to wholeness after his ordeal by having angels care for him.

There are other Scriptures that mention angels who care for us, as well, though we don't focus on them much and there are only a few. From some we know that even those angels don't want our attention but care for us to help us focus our attention on God and The Lamb of God, The Lord Jesus Christ.

On whom are you focused for living today? Yourself? or God?
Your servant in Christ's love

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