Sunday, January 12, 2003

The Baptism of Our Lord
Genesis 1:1-5
Psalm 29
Acts 19:1-7
Mark 1:4-11

The voice of Jehovah is upon the waters: The God of glory thundereth, Even Jehovah upon many waters.

The voice of the LORD is a major theme in this week's lessons. In the passage from Genesis, the telling of the very beginning of everything, we hear God speak for the first time. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.'" The most wonderful things happen when God speaks. In the beginning, He spoke and everything came into being. The Holy Spirit had been hovering over what was then a formless void -- nothing. There was nothing but darkness and the presence of the Most High God. He spoke, and Light came into the world -- the first revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, for He was there in the beginning along with the Holy Spirit creating all that exists.

We see the presence of the fullness of God again in our Gospel lesson for the day, and we hear His voice in the most comforting words that came be spoken. As Jesus was baptised by the prophet named John, a dove descended on Him and a voice called out of heaven. "Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased."

The voice of God is powerful, when He speaks things happen. We see this in the Psalm of the day, where God's voice breaks the great cedars and shakes the desert. The voice of God is also majestic, an oasis in times of suffering and pain. He comes to us like a loving Father, comforts us with words of hope and peace. Sometimes it is hard to hear His voice, after all we are only human and the noise of this world can be confusing to our ears. But His Holy Spirit hovers over that which is formless and void and brings life, light and peace. We know the voice of God because He sent His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ and it is His voice we now hear. John came first, to cry for repentence and prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He was a voice crying out in the wilderness, a voice gifted by God to share His message with the world. Some heard, many were baptised, some wondered at it all. In the end, many of John's disciples followed Jesus, but most of the Jews ignored them both. The baptism of Jesus was the highpoint of John's career. Though he continued to preach and baptize, it was not long after this story that John was arrested and beheaded. Even Jesus was rejected by many of those for whom He was sent, the people of Israel.

The voice of God continues to be heard today and when He speaks, things still happen. In the story from Acts, Paul ran across people in the city of Corinth, disciples who believed in Jesus. They had received the baptism of John. Corinth was a great distance from the Jordan, John's ministry reached far and wide. Whether those men had traveled to the Jordan to hear John, or if John's disciples traveled to Corinth does not matter. The voice of God was heard to the far reaches of the known world, but the people only heard part of the story. There were men like the disciple named Apollos who were preaching accuately about Jesus Christ, but they did not know about the Holy Spirit.

Priscilla and Aquila taught Apollos 'the rest of the story.' Paul did the same for the men from Corinth. The baptism of John was for repentence, but John told the people to believe in the One who would follow. Jesus was that One and those who are baptized in His name receive far more. Something happens. The voice of God speaks and everything is changed, recreated, made new.

The men of Corinth had never heard of the Holy Spirit, they didn't know about the something special that happens when God speaks life into our lives. Paul told them about Jesus. "And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus.  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied." The voice of God changed their lives. He spoke through the life of Jesus, the same Jesus who was baptized in the Jordan to whom the voice of God spoke the most incredible blessing, "Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased."

Though we are not Jesus, we are not the Beloved, we are beloved children of God. The Light shines in, with and through our lives when God speaks our name. Do you truly have a relationship with God? Perhaps you did not hear an audible voice, perhaps nothing spectacular happened at one specific moment... but when God speaks we have more than just an intellectual knowledge of God. That's what Apollos and the men from Corinth had, they knew the story and told it adequately. But they did not have the Holy Spirit. When we hear God's voice, when we are baptised in the name of Jesus Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit and we become children of the Most High. What an incredible blessing. Thanks be to God. 

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