Baptized in God

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December 4, 2019

Mark 1:7-11 (NLT)

John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am – so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River.

As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

CONSIDER THIS

We are going to linger at Jesus’ baptism for a couple more days as we enter into our Advent journey. There are some crucial things we need to learn about ourselves from Jesus’ encounter with the Father.

God has always desired to dwell with us. From walking with us in the garden to housing his glory in a desert tabernacle, God has sought to be with us. The vision of God dwelling with his people is a great theme that runs throughout the Bible. It’s the defining characteristic of the future that the prophets long for. Ezekiel, Zechariah, and the writer of Revelation all write about a majestic and blessed time to come when God will literally live among us (see Ezekiel 37:27; Zechariah 2:10-11; Revelation 21:3).

The long project of God dwelling with humanity finds a defining moment in our reading today.

Jesus is here in the desert, getting ready to baptize us in God.

Jesus, the flesh and blood and personality in whom all of God and all of humanity meet, walks into the Jordan river, submitting to John’s baptism of repentance. Jesus goes under the water, identifying with humanity in our failure and sin. Rising up, the Father baptizes his Son with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit whom he will ultimately bestow upon you and me.

We haven’t received the baptism of John, a baptism given by a man, a baptism where the best we can hope for is the forgiveness of sins. No, we have received the baptism of Jesus, the baptism given by the God-Man, the baptism that fills us with all the fullness of God (Colossians 2:9-12; Ephesians 3:14-19).

In Christ, you and I have become people drenched in the Holy Spirit; we have become living testaments to the final dwelling-together of God and humanity that is to come.

Imagine yourself immersed in the presence of God.

Like when you go underwater in your bathtub with water spilling out on all sides.

Like when you dive into the deep end of the pool and sink all the way to the bottom.

That’s how Jesus completely douses us with God.

The same fullness of the Spirit that lives in Jesus now lives in you and me.

We haven’t received a little piece of God. We have received all of him.

Like Steffany Gretzinger’s song says, “You don’t give your heart in pieces.”

Do you live in the reality that you are baptized in God?

I know I don’t. It feels too good to be true. Like it’s so good that I’ve got to earn it somehow.

And I could never earn something so amazing, cause I know myself.

But he’s not just in us when we’re “good.” He pursues us when we’re running as fast as we can in the opposite direction from where we think he is. He’s even in us on the days when we’re not sure he’s even real.

Jesus has already joined himself to us in totality. The waters of his Spirit have seeped down into every crevice and cavern of our souls. He’s already begun his work of transforming us from the inside out. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

When we say that our God is not far from us, we really mean it.

This is the reality that you and I can live in today, given to us entirely by grace.

We’re still waiting with the prophets to see heaven descend to earth and for the great temple of God to dwell on the soil of our land. But we’re waiting as ones who trust that heaven has already come to earth in the person of Jesus. We’re waiting as walking fountains of God, filled with the fullness of the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. We’re waiting as ones who have not only been forgiven, but as ones who have received the righteousness of our brother, Jesus.

God really is here.

Where is he?

Look in the mirror.

He’s in you.

Let’s remember our baptism today, friends.

Christ in you, the hope of glory.

God is here.

THE PRAYER

God, when I look in the mirror, help me love what I see.
May I see myself, filled with you.
Spirit of God, breathe upon me.

THE QUESTION

  • Do you live in the reality that you are baptized in God?
  • What would it look like to live in the awareness that God is always in you?
  • It’s true that nothing can separate us from the love of God. But what in your life makes you feel like you’re separated from God’s love?
  • Can you offer this to God and ask for his love to wash over you in a fresh way today?

Casey Culbreth

Song for Meditation:

Pieces by Steffany Gretzinger, Bethel Music
Spotify Playlist for Advent Daily Text

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Casey Page Culbreth is a worship pastor at Grace Church in Cape Coral, Florida. She loves exploring different countries, gardening, hanging out at bookstores and movie theaters, and enjoying coffee with friends. You can follow Casey on Instagram @caseypageculbreth, visit her blog at ByCloudandFire.com, or learn about her worship ministry at caseypage.com.

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