Thursday, March 5, 2009

John's Cross View

Lenten conversation #1 Mark 1: 9-15 is the the Gospel of Mark's version of Jesus' baptism. For years I've heard, and made, comments wondering about Jesus' experience hearing himself called God's beloved son. Sometimes we imagine what the bystanders may have seen or heard or thought. But this year I find myself wondering what that might day have been like for John, the baptizer. Ask God to accompany you in your reading and reflection. Read Mark 1: 9-15 through slowly. Hint: Its best read aloud. Imagine what the day might have been like, how the water felt, warm, chilly, still, moving.... Who is around? What sounds do you hear? Read Mark 1: 9-15 slowly again. Imagine that you are John. What are you doing in the water? What do you see? What do you feel and think as Jesus approaches? Jesus stands in front of you? you speak? you hear God's word? you watch Jesus return to the shore? Read the passage a third time. What difference does this make in your life? Who have you baptized? Why did God choose you for that work? What prayer do you have for Jesus, headed for the work that leads him to the cross? Spend a few minutes in prayer asking God how you are meant to serve and witness to the beloved today. Then post your comments on John's experience using the comment icon below.


  1. I am surprised that she would be Albert Schweitzer's daughter, not granddaughter. I remember AS chiefly from a little book I read in beginning German class that emphasized not only his humanitarianism, but also his organ playing abilities and the fact that he, almost singlehandedly, revived the reputation of JS Bach around the turn of the last century. I'll look up his daughter on the Internet.

  2. So much is left out of the scene described in the passage. For some reason, I imagine the sky as cloudy, gray, not sunny as would perhaps be more likely in that place. The river is not muddy, but also gray, like the clouds. I think John the Baptist waits for Jesus with some tension, anticipation. He knows Jesus as his cousin, and this all is pre-ordained. When Jesus is baptized, the heavens do not open up in light, but the spirit, like a gray power comes down, and the words of God rumble like thunder in the gray swirl of the mist. John is neither surprised nor awe-struck, but resigned. Jesus is the messiah, he knows. The gray storm drives Jesus into the wilderness.