Do You Have the Mark?
January 8th, 2006
Because Arab traders introduced it into Europe, coffee was considered by many Roman Catholics to be a heathen beverage. Pope Clement VIII was urged by petition to ban it, but after tasting a cup the pope instead chose to “baptize” the beverage and in 1592 issued a formal edict that recognized coffee as a “Christian” drink.
ÿ John calls his disciples to be baptized, or marked, in the dirty waters of the Jordan.
“4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”
ÿ Jesus begins His public ministry by getting Himself muddy in the Jordan River.
“9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.”
ÿ Jesus calls us all to come where He is – in the muddy and murky waters of ministry.
ÿ What does the “mark” of Baptism mean for us?
ü It is a mark of God’s favor. We are now called God’s children. We have been washed clean, made new, and saved from the evil one. We are protected, empowered, and fulfilled through the power of Jesus Christ.
ü It is a form of anointing. A mark of purifying, healing, and preparing for service,
ü It is a sign of our allegiance to God and His Kingdom. It is an outward symbol of whose we are and of whose side we are on.
11 Go now, leave your bonds and slavery. Put Babylon behind you, with everything it represents, for it is unclean to you. You are the Lord’s holy people. Purify yourselves, you who carry home the vessels of the Lord. 12 You will not leave in a hurry, running for your lives. For the Lord will go ahead of you, and the God of Israel will protect you from behind.
Here the write is talking about Israel’s release from captivity. Preach this!!! WE have, in Jesus, the ultimate release from captivity –the captivity from sin. The response to this on our part is to then separate ourselves from the world – and that God is fighting for us. Israel and us have a hard time getting this notion!
18 “When the world hates you, remember it hated me before it hated you. 19 The world would love you if you belonged to it, but you don’t. I chose you to come out of the world, and so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A servant is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you!
ü It is an intentional commitment to a new way of life and to a new mission in life.
It’s the outward sign or symbol of the inward transformation that is beginning. But, it must be a conscious decision.
—Josh McDowell, Christianity: Hoax or History?
The most telling testimony of all must be the lives of those early Christians. We must ask ourselves: What caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ?
Had there been any visible benefits accruing to them from their efforts — prestige, wealth, increased social status or material benefits — we might logically attempt to account for their actions, for their wholehearted and total allegiance to this “risen Christ.”
As a reward for their efforts, however, those early Christians were beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured, crucified. Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking.
Yet they were peaceful people. They forced their beliefs on no one. Rather, they laid down their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message.
It has been rightly said that they went through the test of death to determine their veracity. It is important to remember that initially the disciples didn’t believe.
But once convinced — in spite of their doubts — they were never to doubt again that Christ was raised from the dead.
ü It is an intentional commitment to a community of faith – and to accountability within that community.
When we are baptized we are committing ourselves to each other. Preach this and talk about theme for the year. What does accountability mean in the church. How should our relationship with each other be different from our relationships with the world?
ÿ Jesus saw heaven not as something that was far off, but rather, as something that was very close, working and breaking into human existence.
“And he said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.’”
Talk here about the similarities between Jesus’ baptism and death: Heaven torn open; Temple curtain torn in two and rocks split, tombs opened and dead alive. God, from heaven – This is my son in whom I am well please; Soldier – surely he was the Son of God. (Matthew 27:50-54)
What are we doing to make this Kingdom evident to the world around us? Do our relationships reflect this? Do the ways that we help each other, love each other, forgive each other, rebuke each other; reflect to the world that we are different?