The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of You, who will prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.” And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me will come One more powerful than I. The thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” At that time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.”
As human beings, we often complicate things and make them much harder to understand. In Mark’s Gospel, he begins with the start of Jesus’ earthly ministry some 30 years after His birth. Yet, he wants his readers to understand the simple fact of who Jesus is. Like the other Gospel writers, Mark records the events surrounding Jesus’ baptism. In Mark’s account, God the Father declares to those present at Jesus’ baptism, “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” It doesn’t get any simpler than this. The name Jesus means “Yahweh is Salvation.” Here, God the Father declares Jesus to be His Son.
The fact that God the Father declares that Jesus is His Son makes the birth narratives concerning Jesus more significant. If Jesus was not God’s Son, then his birth would not be so significant. Like John declared in his Gospel, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” The same Jesus who was with God from the very beginning of time is the One who entered into human history to reconcile mankind to God. John the Baptist clearly identifies this Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The facts concerning the identity of Jesus are simple and clear. There is no confusion concerning the person and work of Christ. Jesus was, is, and always will be. He has always eternally existed with God the Father. He was the promised Messiah from the Old Testament. He is the serpent crusher prophesied in Genesis chapter three.
This Christmas, let us remember to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith! Let’s remember to keep it simple and celebrate the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Questions to Ponder
What did God mean when He said of Jesus, “You are my Son whom I love”? How would you answer the question: why is this Jesus so important that we celebrate His birth?
Spend some time in prayer meditating on what God revealed to you today.