Formal Exegesis Paper
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In Mark 1:9-15, Jesus came from Nazareth, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. That was the moment he saw the Spirit of God coming down from heaven to him. Consequently, a voice from heaven said that he was God’s son, and God was pleased with him. The Spirit drove him into the wilderness immediately. He lived in the wilderness for about forty days. Satan tempted him. In the wilderness, Jesus stayed with wild beasts, and angels watched over him. After the arrest of John, Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming the good news. He urged people to repent and accept the good news he was preaching. This passage reveals the way the good news was reported. Jesus was baptized, tempted, and then he started to proclaim the kingdom of God. These are important steps in a Christian life, which will lead to the fulfillment of the kingdom of God.
The Baptism of Jesus
Jesus lived in Nazareth. This was not a big town, but it was near the main road to the north of Jerusalem. Anyone living there could meet Roman soldiers, Jewish politicians, and strangers from other countries. One could also hear of important happenings in nearby towns. John was collecting a group of people who were preparing for the ‘Coming of God as a King.’ We cannot tell what was in Jesus’ mind, but he certainly felt it right to go and join this group. So, he made an eighty mile journey to find John; it must have taken him five or six days to reach the destination (Mark 1:9-11).
It is impossible to understand what Jesus really learns from his baptism. However, Jesus was confirmed that he was the Messiah, and that he was God’s own and only son. It was also revealed that Jesus had to suffer. He also knew that God was giving him new power for his work. There is a conspicuous conflict as the reader wonders whether Jesus knew about his mission before baptism. So, the reader is forced to assume that Jesus either learnt about it for the first time at baptism or discovered it at baptism in a deeper way than before.
Jesus was baptized by John. It was not because he was sinful. He was the only man who ever lived and could say to his enemies, ‘Who can prove me guilty of any sin?’ Jesus knew that he was guiltless. He asked for baptism because there were sins of mankind, and he was a man. It was as if he was saying, ‘I am among human beings, their troubles are my troubles, and their shame is my shame.’
Jesus could associate himself with mankind because he was a true man. He was not pretending to be a man. He regarded John’s baptizing as an opportunity to dedicate himself to his father’s work on earth. Jesus knew that John’s message was not perfect. However, he did not try to set up a new religion. He used what he found already established. This symbolizes what God does today. He uses his church, although it is full of faults. Christians should do God’s work well, not by starting a new religion when they see that there is something wrong with their present congregation. They should always join the body of believers as it is and help them make it what it should be (Leslie & Atkins, 2002).
When Jesus came out of the water, immediately he saw that the heavens were opened, and the Spirit was descending like a dove. In this case, Jesus used the water to worship God. God has given Christians water and other natural resources to worship Him. It seems that God expects Christians to worship him with what they can see and touch.
Mark says that Jesus saw the Spirit like a dove coming down. This leaves the reader with several unanswered questions. Did the sky really open? Did a voice really speak? Did a real dove come down? God could have made a dove come down, but did not do so. The reader is left to assume that this is what Jesus knew in his heart at that time, that is, a vision which he had. Jesus saw the heavens were opened. Perhaps, this showed Jesus that God was ready to come at some future time from heaven to earth to rule as King. He knew that He Himself was to prepare people for that coming. These words teach Christians that God is not enclosed in a far-off heaven, but He is the one who has dealings with us. It means that there is no barrier between heaven and earth (Kelsey, 1991).
Jesus saw the Spirit descending like a dove. He knew that God endowed him the strength to do his life’s work. Secondly, he knew that he himself was the Messiah. The Jews believed that the appearance of God’s Spirit was a sign that the Messiah had come. The fact that Jesus received power at that time reveals that every Christian can do so as well.
Jesus heard a voice from heaven telling, ‘You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.’ When Jesus heard these words, he was made certain that he was God’s own and only son, he was the Messiah, and that God loved him. He also learnt from the words ‘with thee am well pleased’ that he would have to suffer and die. He knew that the Messiah would also suffer to save the human race from sins (Ira, 2004).
Temptations of Jesus
After the baptism, Jesus went to a lonely place in order to pray. While he was there, he was attacked by the forces of evil and tempted to do God’s work in wrong ways. This story must have been told by Jesus to the disciples. He knew that it would help them when they encountered temptations afterwards. According to Mark, the idea of Jesus’s words can be formulated as follows: Jesus was really a man, as well as being God, and the devil which is at work in the world must be fought (Mark 1:12-13).
It is not wrong for Christians to be tempted. Jesus is the son of God and the foundation of Christianity. He was tempted by the devil, so Christians cannot evade temptations. Indeed, the better a man is, the greater his temptations are. Temptation is like someone knocking at the door. When Christians are tempted and manage to overcome the temptations, they become stronger than before. They are able to resist the next temptation. Additionally, Christ can help Christians overcome temptations, since he was tempted and was not defeated.
The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. The Spirit took Jesus to a lonely place, because he knew that God was strongly urging him to do so. Christians are driven by circumstances and events to different places for God’s sake. Obedience is what God requires in return. Jesus accepted the will of God to go to the wilderness. The wilderness was a rocky place between Jerusalem and Jericho. There were no people, and no plants grew there. Only a few thorn bushes and animals existed in the wilderness. Jesus went there in order to escape from other people and to be alone with God. He never ran away from his enemies but often from his friends. Jesus was tempted by the devil, and the angels ministered to him (Goldsmith, 1994).
Jesus was tempted. However, Mark’s gospel does not explain how Jesus was tempted. This causes a conflict as the reader wonders what happened in the wilderness. From Mark’s silence concerning the temptation, the reader is forced to assume that the temptations are not important to Mark’s main theme. What is important for Mark is that Jesus was tempted by Satan. This makes the reader wonder why Jesus had to go to the wilderness to be tested there. It is conflicting, since he could have gone through the temptations at any place. Moving to the mountains leaves the reader with a number of unanswered questions.
The First Teaching in Galilee
After the time in the wilderness, Jesus probably started preaching in Galilee. This is a district to the north of Judea and to the west of the lake of Galilee. In this part, Mark mentions two special things about Jesus: the authority with which he taught and his victory over sin and disease. Jesus said that the kingdom had already arrived and emphasized the importance of repentance in his message. Jesus was not giving advice. He was saying that God had done something that had not been done before. God had become the King (Mark 1:14-15).
The time is fulfilled. The time came at last for God to send his Messiah and for His rule to begin. God had made His plans long ago, but He waited until the right time before sending Jesus. The Romans had provided good roads, and the Greeks had spread their language among many nations. Therefore, when the message came, it would be distributed widely. The greatest time was the coming of Jesus. God expected men to accept him. If they did, they were rescued from sin. If they did not, they were judged guilty, for they had lost the opportunity.
The Kingdom of God means the rule of God over mankind. Jesus urged people to repent and believe in his message, since God’s Kingdom was with them. Christians should put confidence in Christ and his message. Christians believe that the way of Christ leads to happiness and everlasting life. They believe in this because Jesus promised it to them (Edwards, 1993).
At the time, ‘kingdom’ was a word which the Jews were using very often. Their nation was in great trouble. They regarded themselves as being chosen by God for his service. However, they were oppressed by the heathen Romans. In this distress and rightful desire for freedom, many of their leaders were giving people hope saying that God would save them and set up a new kingdom. Then in Galilee, Jesus came up and said, ‘A new kingdom is here.’ People understood this statement with great interest and hope (Davis, 1998).
However, when Jesus used the word ‘kingdom,’ he did not mean the same thing as they did. First, most of them thought that their greatest evil was the Roman government. They believed the new kingdom was going to defeat the Romans immediately. Jesus understood the harshness of the Roman government. Similarly, he knew about other terrible evil and sinful things which every man was involved in. The Kingdom Jesus was talking about came to overcome sin. Secondly, the Jews thought that the Kingdom would be like the old kingdom of David, with armies and a king’s throne. Jesus knew that it was not a place but the action of God ruling over people’s hearts.
There appear many questions which create conflict for the reader.
Where can we find the Kingdom of God?
What is this Kingdom?
Who belongs to it?
How can we join it?
Was God not the king before this time?
Will it ever come completely?
Why do we call it the good news?
Has it come already?
Christians find it hard to answer these questions. It is not clear what Jesus meant with the Kingdom of God. Most probably, those who listened to him were also perplexed and undoubtedly asked him to explain (Baab, 1998).
Since God is the King, Christians have hope of living tomorrow. Sometimes life becomes hard, making Christians feel desperate. However, they have hope and joy when they think of God as the omnipotent king who will help them overcome evil. Additionally, God is in control of the world; therefore, his laws must be kept. Christians can prepare for the coming of the Kingdom, but they cannot create it. God is the only one who will bring His Kingdom on earth. This calls for patience, persistence, and prayerfulness, as Christians wait for the Kingdom.
This passage narrates how Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. God confirmed that Jesus is His only son. Jesus understood that he had to suffer to redeem human beings from sin. Immediately after the baptism, the Spirit took him to the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. He stayed in the wilderness for forty days. Then he came and started to proclaim the good news and the Kingdom of God. This defines the way Christians should follow to inherit the Kingdom of God. They must be baptized, tempted, and proclaim that Christ is the King. God came to earth as a man through Jesus to save the human race.
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