Baptism by Fire

Friday in the Second Week of Advent, Year B
11 December 2020

Reading: Mark 1: 1-8

Scripture: “I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)

Reflection: There is no doubt that John’s ministry as forerunner/pacemaker is God-ordained and special. Not only does he call people to repentance, in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, he takes them through the rite and ritual of baptism by water…the outward and visible sign of their inner cleansing.  John’s ministry does not end there, however, for he ensures that those who show up do not confuse his role with that of the coming Messiah’s. He gives a vivid description, contrasting the essence of the ministry of each; “I will baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Baptism by water, understood in John’s day, was a symbol of repentance i.e. a turning from the self-absorbed way of living to embrace a fuller and wholesome lifestyle, in keeping with the divine will. Those who responded to John’s preaching, therefore, accepted the challenge to live lives that would be pleasing to God. Fine! But what is this baptism by fire that would be the defining feature of the Messiah’s ministry?

Perhaps a clue is in the manifesto (See Luke 4: 18 – 19), the philosophy and principles that would guide His life and the ministry He would exercise. The declaration of a special anointing, to reverse experiences that kept people in a perpetual state of bondage, is the key to our understanding.  Jesus’ ministry would be that of life changer! Baptism by fire was about being immersed in a relationship with Jesus that was as all-consuming as fire, reducing to nothingness, every impure thought and related action. That which then remained, would be pure, holy and geared toward peace-filled.

In this season of Advent, surrounded by diverse tribulations, may we open ourselves to the daily baptism by fire of our Saviour-King; may we not be afraid of its cleansing purging power, that by it, may we experience heavenly shalom, to inspire our praise to the glory of the Father.

Meditation: “…so that the genuineness of your faith – being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1: 7)

Prayer: Holy God, may I be enveloped in the flame of Your love. Purge and cleanse me that I may show forth Your glory, for Christ sake. Amen.

St. Jude’s Church
Stony Hill

Daily Reflections for Advent and Christmas 2020
by The St. Jude’s Writers