Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What's the story really about?

Robert Stein includes in his book on interpreting the Bible a dialogue from a home bible study. The group read from the opening verses of Mark and then shared their thoughts on what it meant. The first offered, “What this passage means to me is that everyone needs to be baptised, and I believe that it should be by immersion.” A second responded, “I think it means that everyone needs to be baptized by the Holy Spirit.” A third reacted honestly, “I am not exactly sure what I should be doing.” A fourth suggested that the passage meant that if one is to meet God, one needs to get away and commune with nature in the desert. These bible students were sharing what the passage meant to them, but Mark is not talking about us-what can happen to us or what we should do.
His emphasis is on the One who comes who is more powerful than John, who will baptise with the Holy Spirit, who is announced from heaven, and who is tested by Satan in the desert. Jesus is the long-promised One, the Messiah, the son of God, the bearer of the Spirit, and the victor over Satan, the passage is not about John, the nature or mode of baptism, meeting God, or fighting off Satan. Mark introduces us here to Jesus, the central character in all that follows. Our interpretation must stay centered in Him and what His coming means.

David E. Garland
NIV Application Commentary, Gospel of Mark pg 51

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