7He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with* water; but he will baptize you with* the Holy Spirit.’
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved;* with you I am well pleased.’
John proclaims that he is not the One they are expecting – that One comes after him; he reinforces the idea that he comes to prepare the way for the Messiah. John tells them that he baptizes with water; the one who comes after him will baptize them with the Holy Spirit. Interesting, isn’t it, how even the beginning of this gospel refers back to what we have been talking about on Sunday mornings, the baptism of the Spirit at Pentecost, and the power of the Spirit in our lives!
Jesus came down from Galilee (it is thought that John was actually baptizing in the Jordan down near the Dead Sea; the pictures I plan to attach are of a site up near the Sea of Galilee, where we participated in a service of baptismal remembrance.) And Jesus asked John to baptize him – can you imagine how John felt about that? Overawed, perhaps? And just as Jesus was coming out of the water, the heavens opened and the Spirit descended on him in the form of a dove. The “heavens torn apart” used by Mark here is an apocalyptic image – something tremendous was happening! The dove represents the Holy Spirit, hope, and a new creation! (Remember the story of Noah, how he sent out a dove?) The voice from heaven confirms what the author told us in the first sentence – Jesus is the Son of God. He is loved by God and God is pleased with him.