Dishman Baptist Church
September 15, 2019
      • Colossians 1:28CSB

  • Our God Saves
  • You Never Let Go
  • Wonderful Maker
      • Isaiah 50.4-5CSB

      • Isaiah 50.6-7CSB

      • Isaiah 50.8-9CSB

      • Isaiah 50.10CSB

  • Introduction

    Good morning and welcome to Dishman Baptist Church.
    I love going to the Shepherd’s Conference. For me, in my own personal ministry and for my growth it is one of the singular spiritual highlights of my year. But it never fails that almost as soon as I get back from that wonderful, uplifting event that something will happen and that mountain top experience will come crashing down into a valley. And sometimes that valley is exponentially longer and seemingly harder than that mountaintop experience was.
    Maybe you can relate to that thought in something that you’ve experienced in your spiritual life. This morning we’re going to get a glimpse at two moments in Christ’s life that, on the surface, seem to provide for us a demonstration for how He went through the same type of experiences that we do and how we should handle them. In fact, some of you have probably heard these passages preached exactly that way. But I think that as we progress through this passage what we’re going to find in the picture that Mark provides us of Christ is that He is again proven to be wholly other than us and that even in these seemingly corresponding experiences He is proven to be so much higher that His experiences are really not
    Turn with me to Mark 1 and we’ll be looking at verses 9-13.
    Mark 1:9–13 CSB
    In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well-pleased.” Immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels were serving him.
    I titled this message Peaks and Valleys Part 1 and that might be a little misleading because we aren’t actually going to get to peaks and valleys part 2 until Mark 8 when we look at Peter’s confession of faith and then his immediate rebuke of Christ. But lets dig in to these verses this morning and look to see what God has to show us in the picture that Mark gives us of His illustrious Son.

    The Peak

    Mark is seeking to keep his rendition of the Gospel that he promised in Mark 1:1 as cohesive and streamlined as possible so everything he chooses to say and chooses not to include support this desire. This phrase “In those days” is a bridge from the episode that he has just related to the verses that we’re going to study this morning. Even as non-specific as it is, this clues us in that it was most likely within the first six months of John’s ministry. If you remember the birth stories related in Luke you will recall that John was only about six months older than Jesus and so he most likely wouldn’t have been preaching for years before these events took place.
    But now the long awaited moment has come - the moment that Mark has been building to throughout this entire introduction. Everything he has written has been to bring us to this moment. He introduces Jesus in Mark 1:1 but now is the moment of His arrival.
    Jesus - the Messiah proclaimed by Mark, promised by the prophets Isaiah and Malachi, prepared for by John’s ministry of baptism and pointed to by John’s preaching is now present with the people to be baptized.
    The King has arrived but He is as yet unknown. Mark chooses to share only one detail from the backstory of Jesus and it is this piece of information regarding where He is from. As he introduces Him he includes that He is from Nazareth in Galilee. Nazareth was such a small town that it is not even mentioned in the Old Testament or by the later Jewish historian Josephus. It was a hamlet of probably about 3-500 people. Just like John’s appearance, as the forerunner of the Messiah, in the wilderness was not what was expected, Jesus, the Messiah, coming from Nazareth was not what was expected. He was born far away from the corrupt religious system that had developed in Jerusalem. Nazareth had such a bad reputation that Nathaniel would question Phillip “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46)
    And in Galilee - a region that had been a part of the apostate Northern Kingdom, conquered by the Assyrians and repopulated by Gentiles - look down upon by the more pure and elite Jews from Jerusalem. In John 7 the crowds even question whether the Messiah could come out of Galilee.
    John 7:41 CSB
    Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some said, “Surely the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does he?
    But this is the fulfillment of what Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 9
    Isaiah 9:1–2 CSB
    Nevertheless, the gloom of the distressed land will not be like that of the former times when he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali. But in the future he will bring honor to the way of the sea, to the land east of the Jordan, and to Galilee of the nations. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; a light has dawned on those living in the land of darkness.
    Jesus is the only mention of anyone coming to John from Galilee in Mark’s accounts in contrast to his comments that all of Jerusalem and Judea were going out to be baptized by John. This is also in contrast to the later account that we’ll be studying in Mark 4 that a large crowd came from Galilee as well as large crowds from Jerusalem, Judea and other regions that were following Christ.
    And so Jesus has come to be baptized by John presenting Himself among the people along the Jordan River. This leads to the question that has plagued theologians for centuries and that is “why”? Why did Christ have to be baptized? Mark has made a significant point to highlight that John’s baptism was for repentance and the forgiveness of sins so why would the only sinless man ever need to submit to a baptism that he didn’t need.
    And there is no doubt for the historicity of this event. It is covered in varying detail in all four Gospels. And it is even this difficulty - as to why He would have had to submit to this seeming unnecessary act - that guarantees the historicity of it happening. If the early church were looking to establish that Christ was the sinless Son of God they wouldn’t have attempted to establish His credibility through the lens of John’s baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
    Even John questioned why Jesus had to submit to be baptized. In Matthew’s rendition of this event John tries to prevent Jesus saying that it was he that needed to be baptized by Christ not the other way around. And yet Christ insists saying that it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness.
    Matthew 3:14–15 CSB
    But John tried to stop him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” Jesus answered him, “Allow it for now, because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John allowed him to be baptized.
    Notice what is not in this text first - Christ does not seek to put John off with regards to His sinless perfection. Instead He tells John to allow or to permit this at this moment. It is a recognition on Christ’s part that the significance of this particular baptism is far more than for the forgiveness of sins. It is the first identification of Christ with those who He had to identify with in order to be their Messiah. In everything that Christ did He obeyed the Father perfectly - even in the submission to the humiliation of setting aside His divine attributes for a time to come and assume the nature of a man and to submit to everything that mankind had to experience. In this case God had set in place, in accordance with His will, the requirements that men should be baptized and so Christ in perfect submission to the Father in every respect would submit to baptism.
    As one commentator has written “Baptism for the Lord was a symbolic action picturing His eventual baptism into death at Calvary and His rising from the dead. Thus at the outset of His public ministry, there was this vivid foreshadow of a cross and an empty tomb.”
    All of that is important and gives us an understanding of why Christ had to be baptized in total. One answer it doesn’t get us too however is why Mark chooses to relate the baptism in the manner that he does. He really only gives the baptism the briefest of head nods in acknowledgement of it taking place as he moves on to his main purpose. Remember that Mark starts his Gospel account with a royal proclamation that there is a new King, the King of Kings, who this letter is telling about. And so for Mark the baptism really seems to be that moment when the Son comes before the Father and kneels to receive the crown. It is that moment that we’ve seen represented in film of the moment that the king is being crowned and so he must make one act of submission in kneeling before he is proclaimed the supreme ruler. The illustration falls apart a bit when it comes to Christ because even in his human form and in submitting to baptism we know that He was the Word who was with God from the beginning of eternity and that all things had come to being through His power. And yet here He is submitting to the Father’s will in this coronation event. It is what transpires after the baptism, after Christ comes out of the water that points us most to what Mark desires to get across.
    Our translations say “As soon as” but the Greek word here is ευθυς and is more accurately translated as immediately. Mark uses it more than all the other three Gospel writers combined and eleven times in this first chapter alone. Including twice in the events that we’re looking at today. In fact this word really sets apart the two events that are taking place. Immediately as Christ rises from the water Mark tells us that He saw the Heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove.
    Whether this was an event for Christ alone to witness or whether others saw it also is a point that many are divided on. I think it is safe to say that it is most probable that only Christ and John witnessed this event. A few reasons for this observation - this is exactly the kind of event that Satan attempted to tempt Christ to recreate by telling Him to throw Himself off the Temple and to validate His Messiahship when the angels caught Him and prevented Him from falling to His death. There would have been thousands of people nearby and some of these, as we know from other Gospel accounts, were Pharisees and Sadducees. For that many people to witness this supernatural event, this validation of Christ as the Messiah and not believe when they consistently asked Him for just such a sign is improbable. The other is that Mark’s description of the event makes it seem as if it really was only Christ who saw and heard the events that took place.
    The event is significant - and it has eschatalogical or end of times significance. The verb for splitting used here is only used one other time in the Gospel of Mark and the majority of the times this verb is used in the New Testament accounts it is used either in conjunction with this event or the supernatural tearing of the curtain in the Holy of Holies or of the earth at Christ’s crucifixion.
    Here, the separation between God and man the very curtain of Heaven has been torn allowing free access to the throne of God. As we’re going to study next week Christ’s message would be that the time had been fulfilled and that the Kingdom of God was at hand. The division between God and man that had been forged in the Garden through sin is being torn open now through Christ’s coronation at the start of His ministry.
    This is made even more apparent by the Trinitarian nature of this moment. The Son is presenting Himself in submission to the Father. The Spirit is present descending upon the newly baptized Christ. The Father is present in the proclamation that comes forth from Heaven. The significance of this cannot be overstated both in a theological sense of establishing the doctrine of the Trinity and in the soteriological sense of the significance of Christ being proclaimed as the Son of God.
    The first thing that takes place is the descent of the Spirit. There is an important note of caution that we must take right from the outset. The text says that the Spirit descends on Christ “like a dove” not “as a dove” - even in the translations that say “as a dove” in Matthew 3:21 it is best to translate that as “as a dove would” not in the form of a dove. We have taken to depicting the Spirit as a dove in modern day Christianity and this puts us in danger of making Him something He is not. He no more exists eternally in the form of a bird than He does in the form of a flame. The Spirit descends and alights on Christ to provide a picture of divine approval, blessing, empowerment and validation at the beginning of His ministry. This fulfills what God spoke through the prophet Isaiah regarding the Messiah
    Isaiah 11:2 CSB
    The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
    Christ of course was truly God and truly man. As God He did not give up any of His attributes and needed nothing. But as a man He required the help of the Spirit to accomplish the mission that God the Father had sent Him forth to accomplish. Dr. MacArthur comments on this verse “in His humanity, He was being anointed for service and empowered for ministry by the Spirit in a manner reminiscent of the words of Isaiah 61:1,
    “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    Because the Lord has anointed me
    To bring good news to the afflicted;
    He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    To proclaim liberty to captives
    And freedom to prisoners.”
    The presence and descent of the Spirit is one part of the coronation ceremony. The other is the voice of God the Father issuing from Heaven. “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” This is a blending of two Old Testament quotes that each demonstrate the two disparate roles that Christ would play to fulfill His divinely appointed mission. The first part should sound very familiar as it is from one of the Messianic Psalms that we looked at just a few weeks ago. Psalm 2:7 says
    Psalm 2:7 CSB
    I will declare the Lord’s decree. He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.
    In the Psalm as here it is a proclamation of divinity and Kingship. This is the Father by His own sovereign decree and pronouncement bears witness to Christ’s position as the Son who bears all rights to the throne and who later will be told to sit down at God’s right hand
    Psalm 110:1 CSB
    This is the declaration of the Lord to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”
    The other part of this statement points to the role of Christ as Isaiah’s suffering servant. Isaiah 42:1 says
    Isaiah 42:1 CSB
    “This is my servant; I strengthen him, this is my chosen one; I delight in him. I have put my Spirit on him; he will bring justice to the nations.
    The Father was expressing His unique delight and approval of the Son right from the start - which might seem premature. It would be like praising a baby for becoming President of the United States when he hadn’t even graduated school yet. This is the start of Christ’s ministry and so it might seem odd that the Father is expressing His delight in Him when He hasn’t even accomplished anything yet. It is important to note that this affirmation of the Father is not for what Christ had accomplished - this was not an attaboy - instead it was an affirmation of who He is. “He is not the Son of God because He does certain things” - He isn’t the Son of God because of the miracles He accomplished, the healings He performed or His masterful control of the weather. He does certain things (all of those things I just mentioned) because He is the Son of God. Who He is determines what He does and so it is perfectly appropriate for the Father to express delight in His Son right from the outset.
    Here we have the Son basking in the presence of both the Father and the Spirit at the outset of His ministry. What a poignant picture that Mark gives us as the bookend and how deeply it contrasts to the bookend at the other end of Christ’s ministry here on earth as we will see when we get to Mark 15 and Christ calls out “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?”
    What a peak for Christ to begin His ministry - there really could be no higher mountaintop experience but, as we often find out, He doesn’t remain on the mountain but is immediately brought into a valley.

    The Valley

    Mark starts in his characteristic manner - Immediately. There is no rest for the Messiah following the experience of His baptism. He is immediately sent out into the wilderness. The words that Mark uses are that the Spirit “drove Him” or compelled Him. It is important to realize that He was not driven into the desert because there was any sort of reluctance in Christ to face what was to come - much like we often have to drive or compel our kids to go to the dentist because really no one wants to go there - but instead it demonstrates Christ’s complete submission to the leading of the Spirit in accordance with the will of the Father that would be demonstrated through out the rest of His life and ministry. Christ was fully committed to accomplishing what God the Father had sent Him to do and willing to be led in the steps necessary to accomplish His work.
    It is also important to recognize two more factors regarding Christ’s temptation. He was led there by the Spirit to be tempted but the neither the Spirit nor God the Father was complicit in the act of temptation that took place there. Christ’s temptation fit within the framework of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind and so it was used by Him to accomplish His will but as James writes in James 1:13 God is never the agent of temptation
    James 1:13 CSB
    No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God,” since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone.
    It is also important to recognize that Christ was not being led into the desert to be tempted to see if He would sin but instead to prove that He could not sin. There are two views regarding this and they each have complicated Latin names. Since I don’t speak Latin I will spare you my weak translation and give you the English versions - peccability and impeccability. Peccability is the view that Christ in the desert (or at any point during His lifetime) could have sinned but simply chose within His exercise of His free will as a man not to. One of the supporting arguments to this view is that Christ was fully human and so He must have had the notional ability to sin and simply chose not to. Also argued by this view is that if it were impossible for Christ to sin then He could not have fully identified with us as humans and so would not be able to fulfill the role of the sympathetic high priest spoken of in Hebrews.
    The contrary view, and more Biblical in my opinion, is the concept of impeccability. Arguments in favor of this view are that despite being a man, Christ never fully surrendered His divinity and thus could not sin. If God were able to sin and the wages of sin are death then if God, who cannot die, did sin He would have to die - so God cannot sin and therefore Christ being God cannot sin. It was also God’s plan for the redemption of mankind for Christ to come, to live a sinless life and to pay the price for sin on the cross as a perfect sacrifice. If Christ could have sinned then He would not have been able to be that sacrifice or to accomplish God’s plan.
    The most convincing evidence for the impeccability of Christ are His own words. In John 5 Christ testifies regarding Himself this way
    John 5:30 CSB
    “I can do nothing on my own. I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of him who sent me.
    He says two things here that point to His impeccability - He says “I can do nothing on my own” and that He does not seek His own will, “but the will of Him who sent Me.” Christ was so submitted to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and to the will of God that He couldn’t have sinned because that one sinful act would have violated both of those principles in His life.
    So what is the point - why is this important for the temptation of Christ? It is for us to understand what the underlying purpose of the temptation was. Mark doesn’t even get into the specific temptations the way that Matthew and Luke do. He just sort of matter of factly mentions that Christ was in the wilderness for forty days being tempted by Satan. If there were no possibility that Christ could sin then what was the point of the temptations? To a small degree it was to demonstrate for us how to handle temptations when they come into our lives. As Matthew and Luke demonstrate Christ met each temptation with Scripture but again Mark doesn’t even get into that point.
    For Mark Christ’s victory in the desert was never in doubt. The newly crowned King went into the desert to demonstrate His power as the One who was mightier than humanity and even the greatest power the spiritual realm could muster. He went face to face with the best that Hell could throw at God’s plan for redemption and He won. Every one of Satan’s temptations was to attempt to get Christ’s humanity to circumvent the plan of God. To avoid having to be the Suffering Servant. In fact he encouraged Christ to exercise His own divine rights as the Creator in making bread (creating ex nihilo), to demonstrate His divinity by cheating death and to demonstrate His Kingship by handing His divine prerogative over to Satan by bowing down in submission to him rather than continued submission to His Father.
    Mark’s whole purpose of including the temptation is to demonstrate God’s sovereignty and that the Gospel that Mark had proclaimed in verse 1 would come to fruition despite any attempts by Satan and his minions to keep it from happening. At the end Christ’s divine Kingship was confirmed as the Father knew it would when He affirmed Him and proclaimed that He was well pleased by Him. Following His ordeal Mark leaves Christ in the care of the angels as they minister to Him, bringing Him food and drink.


    We have been privileged to witness Christ’s peaks and valley this morning. To be spectators to the coronation of the King and the demonstration of God’s sovereignty once again confirmed. And it is in that arena that we can find the point of this passage for us - Christ has been revealed to be higher and greater than we are. His baptism by John was not a picture of our own, nor was His temptation in the desert an object lesson for how we should approach our own temptations. Instead we are meant to see the glorious King coronated and enthroned with His sovereignty confirmed.
    But there are lessons for us - Christ was so submitted to the Father’s will and the Spirit’s leading that He submitted to a baptism for sins He had never committed and the testing of a foe that couldn’t defeat Him. Are we that submitted to God’s will that whatever He requires of us we are willing to do? Can we say along with Christ that we only do what the Father commands us or do we often try and do it our way and in our timing? Do we recognize the sovereignty of God in our lives and that we are to be willing participants in His plan?
    Maybe you’re here and you have never witnessed the beauty of the Son of God in His full glory. Maybe the Spirit is working in your heart and you are recognizing your sin and your separation from God as a result. That you’re not submitting to His will at all. You’ve been presented Christ this morning - He who submitted to a baptism that would foreshadow His ultimate identification with you when He went to the cross and did experience the wrath of God for the sins that He had never committed. When the one who was confirmed and affirmed by the Spirit and the Father at His baptism, who demonstrated the sovereign will of God and the immutability of that will by defeating the best Hell had to offer in the desert experienced the rejection of both the Father and the Son as He again demonstrated the sovereign will of God as He took the punishment for sin on the cross for all who would believe and place their faith in Him. If that’s you - what is preventing you from submitting to His will today? What is it that you love so much that would keep you from kneeling before Him, confessing your sins and repenting to place your faith in Him and what He’s done for you?
    Today is the day. As we will look at next week - the Kingdom of God is at hand. Now is the time to repent and believe the good news.
      • Mark 1:9–13CSB

      • John 7:41CSB

      • Isaiah 9:1–2CSB

      • Matthew 3:14–15CSB

      • Isaiah 11:2CSB

      • Psalm 2:7CSB

      • Psalm 110:1CSB

      • Isaiah 42:1CSB

      • James 1:13CSB

      • John 5:30CSB

  • All I Have Is Christ
      • 1 Thessalonians 5:23CSB

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