Translated by Allan Liang
Mark 1: 9-11 The outbreak of the new coronavirus forces us and provides us with much time to ponder about the ultimate questions of life: life and death, where we go after death, what is death, whether the universe has a ruler and who is that ruler. In reality, we were created in the image of God, and during our creation, God placed eternity in our hearts (Acts 3:1). Therefore, we cannot only think about the matters of the world, we must think about the things that transcend the boundaries of this world. Even if we say that life ends at the grave, many people will still periodically burn paper money. Even if some say that they are theists, many atheist leaders will still unconsciously speak of “deities above our head”. We will certainly think about questions that transcend this world, and in this time of pandemic, such contemplation is made even more urgent and necessary. Not only so, this pandemic has greatly humbled us and has made us fearful, conscious of our weaknesses. Even though America has great economic strengths, a vast array of modern technologies, and nuclear vessels of all sorts, it cannot but sigh in its inability to deal with so small a virus - how much weaker are we? In this time of global pandemic, how can Christians remain at peace? Where does our peace come from? The Bible verse today provides us with the answer. Before beginning his 3 year ministry, Jesus received the baptism from John the Baptist. John did not initially want to baptise Jesus, esteeming himself to be unworthy, yet Jesus insisted on being baptised for the accomplishment of much good (Mathew 3:14-15). The baptism of John was of repentance, revealing sinners to have repented. Here, we must ask, if Jesus was without sin, why did he receive the baptism? Jesus asked to be baptised in order to make himself equal with sinners, to stand in their position. This was as though David's equality with the army of Israel. When David defeated Goliath, the entire army became victorious; when David was defeated, the entire Israel army was defeated. Similarly, it was as the equality of the old testament prophets with the people of Israel. Whenever Israel sinned, the prophets would say “we have sinned against you” even if the prophets themselves did not commit idolatry and forsake God (see Jeremiah 14:20, Daniel 9:11). The clearest manifestation of Christ’s equality with sinners was his atoning death on the cross. Jesus upon the cross became the representative and collective sum of countless sinners, treated as the worst criminal in the history of the world as he bore the curse of God. This is actually what Jesus’ baptism points to. Jesus once asked his disciples, “ Can you be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?” (Mark 10:38). The baptism there points to the washing that took place on the cross. In the Bible, baptism has a two sided meaning: it both speaks of curses and reveals blessings. In the Bible, there are two important historical events that relate to baptism: crossing the red sea (1 Corinthians 10:2), Noah and the flood (1 Peter 3:20). In crossing the red sea, Israel received deliverance and blessings while the army of Pharaoh bore curses; at the time of the flood, Noah and his household received the blessing of safety, whereas the rest of the world received the curse of judgement. Baptism has the two sided meaning of curses and blessings. Because of the Lord Jesus’ voluntary assumption of equality with sinners, he was, on the cross, regarded as the enemy of God and received the baptism of curse. Today, all who believe in Jesus and repent of their sins can receive the baptism of salvation and blessing. Where does peace for Christians come from? It comes from the baptism of curse Jesus received for our sake. Because we believe that Jesus has bore the curse for us, we now know that whether in life or death, we belong to God. Through Christ, we have already won the most important battles in this life. Nothing, whether it be hardship or persecution or disease, or humanly separation can separate us from the love of God. What we must do is give our lives into the hands of the gracious, all powerful God, and with courage and peace, accept all that we face. Please meditate upon Mark 1:9-11 and offer up in prayer: How great was that which Jesus accomplished for me? Where does my peace come from? With what sort of mindset ought I face the pandemic?