Jesus - Man of Mystery: THE REVEAL - Wellington First Assembly

Wellington First Assembly

326 W Botkin Lane, Wellington Kansas ........Family Faith Lessons - 9:30 AM........ Sunday Worship - 10:30 AM


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Jesus - Man of Mystery: THE REVEAL

 Inscrutable, enigmatic, impenetrable, unfathomable, imponderable.  Mysterious.

Just a few adjectives that could describe this man named Jesus.  In his 30 years, he had been celebrated, then a fugitive. Born in his ancestral city, but then a refugee.  At one point crowned as king, yet now humbled and poor.  Left behind as a youngster, but then forbidden to speak of things as a teenager.  A working man, a carpenter.  

Who is this mysterious man?  His name given at birth – Yeshua – Jesus.  Literally meaning savior.  It was the hope of every parent that their child would outshine them and lead them from bondage into the promised land.  Yet Jesus, more so than his neighbors and cousins, was a man of mystery.  Who was he?

This is the defining question the gospel of Mark asks.  This is what sets Christianity apart from any other religion. Ancient texts, positive morals, great philosophical teachings are all fine and dandy.  But until we know the answer to this question, until we fully understand the mystery named Jesus, we will never fully comprehend the enormity of who he is, what he has done, and how He has empowered you and me to live in our everyday lives.

If you remove these several verses from this gospel, then Jesus is just another good moral prophet.  Useful for us to get along with each other – but clearly not one with the authority to forgive sins and to further the Kingdom of God.  Th1ere is a reason that Mark grounds this story here.  These verses are critical to the gospel message, they anchor the story in a vivid, visceral narrative sequence on the shores of the Jordan river.  These verses flashback to the Exodus from Egypt and foreshadow the return of the return to freedom.  Who is this mystery man? Who is this Jesus?

Please stand with me as we read together this passage from Mark 1:7-11.
And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
The Baptism of Jesus
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”


Our passage today begins with a character John.  We know him by what he does.  He is a baptizer.  An older cousin of Jesus, he has been spending his time the last several years, calling people to repentance.  He is well known in the entire area.  More people know his name than that of Jesus.  They’ve walked out there, listened to his stirring messages.

What is John not doing?  He’s not starting a new religion.  He is not making new converts.  He is not rejecting anything from the Mosaic law, nor adding anything to it.  This is not a ritual of initiation.  Baptism is simply a public statement of confession and repentance.

The people of Israel are well aware that their history is one of joyful periods of  freedom, interrupted by pain and suffering.  They see a direct link between the times that they walk in the ways of the Lord and the times that they don’t.  They recognize that they have sin in their lives and must repent and confess. They long for the day the Messiah will return to bring them salvation, to bring them freedom.

This day started out like any other.  John called the people towards God – pointed them to one that would someday come and set them free.  And when his cousin in the crowd step forward, at first it was probably no big deal.  Yes, John had heard the whispered stories, but this was the kid he grew up with, the local carpenter.

But something changed that day.  Jesus was revealed.  The time had come for God to set his plan into motion and let a few others know.

For the first time, John saw who Jesus really was.  He recognized the Righteous One.  He discovered the one he had been speaking about.  And he instantly desired Jesus to baptize Him. 

But for some strange mystery, Jesus declined in order to fulfill the purpose that John had been created for, that had been prophesied by Isaiah.  In the moment, Jesus, the man of mystery, representing all of humankind, past, present, and future, stood in as a substitute and demonstrated the posture of repentance on behalf of me and you.

1) Jesus is revealed to us when we turn away from our sins.

Let me be clear.  The mere act of getting dunked in water does not bring any salvation to us.  But it publicly demonstrates that we desire God to work in us.
Baptism here was the setting that the Triune Godhead chose to reveal the new covenant, the next step in God’s plan.

I like it when I learn how things work.  I like it when somebody explains to me the behind the scenes story.  I’m always fascinated by magicians – the tricks they perform, and the elaborate plans that show how it all works.


In a few moments, I might reveal some of the mystery behind this magic.  Right now, there are probably a few of you trying to figure it out!

In our text, Jesus is revealing Himself to us.  And he’s doing it in a way that is as memorable and impressionable as the flames that you saw leaping up right here.
Jesus is dunked into the water – just as I dunked this bill in.  And Jesus came up, just as I lifted the bill out of the water.  As Jesus came up, one era ended, and the new one began.  The torch was handed off.  The message John had been preaching was now the Living message standing in front of them.  And then that’s when it gets interesting.  For us, we saw some flames, but for those gathered that day, they encountered a supernatural reminder of the power of their Creator.

The heavens were torn open and the Spirit in the form of a dove descended.  This event fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 64:1 “Oh, that you would burst from the heavens and come down!”  But it does even more than that.  The whole event is described as the Exodus.  Just as the waters across the Red Sea were torn apart and piled high upon each other to allow Moses to lead the people out of bondage and into freedom, so now the heavens are torn apart and Jesus becomes the fulfillment of what was started with Moses. 

For those devout men who were there that day, there is no doubt that questioning cry of Isaiah 63:11-13 is revealed in their midst:

Then they remembered those days of old when Moses led his people out of Egypt.     They cried out, “Where is the one who brought Israel through the sea, Moses as their shepherd?  Where is the one who sent his Holy Spirit  to be among his people? 12 Where is the one whose power was displayed when Moses lifted up his hand— the one who divided the sea before them,  making himself famous forever? 13 Where is the one who led them through the bottom of the sea?

There question is answered right here in front of them.  Where is he?  He is here.  The Mystery has been revealed.  The New Exodus has begun.  The entire history of the Hebrew people is a foreshadowing of the fulfillment of God’s plan in Jesus Christ.  The covenant continues and expands. What does this teach us?

2) Jesus is revealed to us when we follow him through rough times.

Those same devout men knew what came next in their history.  The people of Israel wandered for 40 years, learning how to trust in God instead of themselves, enduring temptations to go back, endeavoring to persevere through all trials.  Only when the ragtag mob of millions learned to follow the Cloud by Day and the Fire by Night, where they ready to enter the Promised land.

In the next few verses which we did not read this morning, the expected imagery continues.  Jesus enters the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights.  Again, he is representing the entirety of Israel’s journey.  Unlike them, he does not fall in the rough times, combats the evil forces that would try to tear him down, and then emerges triumphantly leading the promised way.

In this exodus imagery, Jesus is fulfilling the promise of Isaiah 43:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

I learn more about my relationship with my Savior and how much he loves me during the rough times.  It’s ironic, isn’t it?  When things are going great, it’s easy to become complacent in our Christian walk.  It’s when things get rough – bills, unemployment, family squabbles, illnesses – when things are not longer able to be controlled by our own abilities – that’s when we remember that we must keep our eyes on the LORD – as he will see us through.

3) Jesus is revealed to us when we witness the power of the Holy Spirit.

The people standing there in line to be baptized witnessed something they had never seen before.  The recognized it, because they had been taught that it had happened before.  For generations, they knew what the signs should be.  It may have taken a few several moments to figure out what was happening, like a rusty memory buried in the bank vault.

What John had predicted would come true.  The wheels were set into motion. In just a few years, the forces that had been holding back the fullness of God’s spirit upon all his people would be torn apart by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit, descending upon Jesus in power, unleashed and emboldened his ministry.  That same Holy Spirit that had empowered Christ would be given to the entire church, to each one of us, on the day of Pentecost.  John, the Baptizer, was looking forward to the day where the temporary baptism of repentance would be replaced with the permanent baptism of empowerment.

The rest of the gospel of Mark, as well as much of the New Testament, focuses on how Jesus is revealed to us through his miraculous works.  The story continues to this day.  While John baptized by water, Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit.

Because Jesus revealed Himself to us, we have confidence in our salvation.

When John fully recognized who Jesus was, any doubt he had disappeared.  We do know that several years later, John is getting anxious because things weren’t going as fast as he had hoped.  John actually sent some messengers to Jesus and asked him if he really was the one.  Jesus responded by simply saying, look around – are the captives free, are the humbled exalted, do the lame walk? He reminds John that the beginning has started and will be complete soon.  With that reminder, John is satisfied and remains confident to his death.

We live in the age of completion.  The whole reign of Jesus Christ has not yet been fully consummated.  There will be a day where there is no more pain, no more sorrows, and no more tears.  But until then, we can share in His confidence, reinforced by His actions in our lives, and strengthened by the activities of the Holy Spirit in our congregation and communities.

I will live this year by the power of the Holy Spirit!

So, this is our pledge, this is our desire.  If we want to see 2018 as a different year than any others; if we want to see lives changed around us, we have an action step.

There are some that witnessed the baptism of Jesus, saw all the signs, and walked away unchanged, not doing anything different in their lives.  There are others that turned the world upside down in their fervent call towards righteousness and repentance.  Which one will you be?  What will you do?  It all starts with this

I will live this year by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Let’s say it together….

I will live this year by the power of the Holy Spirit!

Jesus, the man of Mystery, is revealed to us.

Shall we pray.