Connections 01.10.2020: The Most Wonderful Times of the Year

Mark 1:1-11

Mark tells us right up front what his story is about: “the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (v. 1). And just in case we missed Mark’s statement of who Jesus is, God reminds us of Jesus’ identity when Jesus emerges from the Jordan after John baptizes him: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (v. 11).

Jesus is God’s Son.

We have just come out of the Christmas season, during which we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas reminds us that in Jesus, God is with us. We have also just observed Epiphany, when we remember that God reveals God’s self in Jesus to all people.

As God’s Son, Jesus is uniquely qualified to reveal God to us. As the Gospel of John reminded us in last week’s lesson text, “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (Jn 1:18).

Christmas and Epiphany are among the most wonderful times of the year because they remind us that Jesus is God’s Son through whom God most clearly reveals God’s self. God’s sending Jesus to reveal God’s self to us is an act of great grace.

So if we want to know what is in God’s heart, if we want to know how deep God’s love is, we should look at Jesus. We can learn a lot about who God is and how God loves by observing Jesus’ life and by listening to his teachings.

But in Mark’s narrative, we don’t really learn what it means for Jesus to be God’s Son until Jesus dies on the cross. When the Roman centurion sees how Jesus dies, he says, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” (15:39). In making that statement, the centurion says more than he knows. Still, he does see a connection between Jesus’ identity and his death. Mark expects us to make the deeper connection: through his giving of his life on the cross, Jesus reveals the true nature of God’s love for us. Three days later, the Son of God rose from the tomb, thereby destroying the power of death.

Good Friday and Easter are also among the most wonderful times of the year because they remind us that Jesus is God’s Son through whom God most clearly reveals God’s self. The cross and the resurrection reveal the depth of God’s love for us.

When you stop and think about it, our embrace of and experiences with the Son of God who reveals the nature and extent of God’s love for us can and should transform all the days of our lives into the most wonderful times of the year!

Discussion

  • How did John the Baptizer “prepare the way of the Lord” (v. 3)? How can we prepare the way for people to encounter Jesus?
  • John proclaimed “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (v. 4). Why might Jesus have submitted to such a baptism?
  • What does it mean for Jesus to “baptize…with the Holy Spirit” (v. 8)?
  • So far as we know from what Mark has told us, all Jesus has done to this point is be baptized by John. What reason might God have for being “well pleased” with him?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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