The Inauguration of the King – Mark 1:9-13 (pt. 4)

b. The affirmation of the Father

In verse 11 Mark tells us that “a voice came from heaven.” And this voice said: “you are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.” This is clearly the voice of God the Father, and He is affirming the fact that Jesus is His Son with who he is well pleased. Additionally, this is confirmation that Jesus is the chosen Messiah. In Isaiah 42:1 the Lord spoke through Isaiah and described the coming Messiah in this way:

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights;

This is very similar language to what we find in Mark. In fact, the second half of this verse goes onto say:

I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

From this we see that the Father will be pleased with the Messiah, and will put His Spirit upon Him. This is exactly what we find in Mark, and confirms that Jesus is the Messiah and that the dove was the Holy Spirit. Because of the significance of this statement it deserves a closer look.
The Father first says that Jesus is His beloved Son (Psalm 2:7). In this we find one of the clearest examples of the biblical teaching of the Trinity. That is, there is one God who exists eternally in persons—The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. Each member of this Trinity is God, and as such possesses the Divine nature along with all of its attributes. Each member is equally God in every way; however each is also a distinct personal expression of that Divine nature. So there is one God expressed in three persons. Therefore, when the Father declares Jesus to be His son it means that Jesus is a part of this Trinity—He is God. He existed along with the Father and the Spirit in eternity past, and all three possess the same Divine nature. Although He is of the same nature as the Father and the Spirit, the Son is distinguished by his role (as is the case with each member of the Trinity). Specifically, the Son role is distinguished by His submission to the Father. In this case this submission is seen in Jesus’ willingness to take on the limitations of man in order to make salvation available. It is because of this submission that the Father also says that He is “well pleased with the Son.” Before the foundation of the world the Father chose the Son to be the Messiah who would come and save sinners from wrath. The Son accepted this ministry, and publicly submitted Himself to it by being baptized. This of course pleased the Father, and He in turn publicly anointed the Son with the Holy Spirit to confirm Jesus to be the Messiah and equip Him for His work. This is quite an amazing passage, because in it we get to see the inner-workings of Trinity – all three persons working together for our salvation. In light of this work it is not surprising that Paul would pen these words in Ephesians 1:3-14:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.


The Inauguration of the King – Mark 1:9-13 (pt. 3)

II. The Confirmation of Jesus for His Ministry (vv. 10-11)

a. The anointing of the Spirit

In verse 9 Jesus publicly accepted his ministry as a representative for man. Now, in verses 10-11, Mark makes sure to point out that Jesus was also publicly confirmed by the Father for this ministry. This public confirmation of Jesus’ ministry can be seen in two different events found in verses 10-11. First, Jesus was publicly confirmed for this His ministry as the Messiah when He was publicly equipped for this ministry through the anointing of the Spirit. Mark tells us that “when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.”
Can you imagine this scene? Immediately after being baptized Jesus came up out of the water and the first thing that He saw was the heavens being torn open. I am not real sure what this would have looked like, however there are several other passages that might help us to understand this scene a little better. In Mark 15:38 this same word translated as “torn” is used to describe the “the curtain of the temple [that] was torn in two.” You can almost imagine the sky being torn open like a curtain being torn in two. It is almost “as if God were coming in from outside of earth’s sphere and invading its space.” This is a significant point not just because it demonstrates the power of God over nature, but also because it is an allusion to Isaiah 64:1. There the prophet Isaiah is praying for God to come down and deliver his people. In Mark 1:10 we see the answer to this prayer.
The heavens being torn open was not the only thing that Jesus saw. Mark tells us that Jesus also saw the Holy Spirit coming down on himself out of the sky like a dove. Mark does not tell us how the Holy Spirit was like a dove, and so there are many theories on exactly what Mark meant (did he look like a dove? move like a dove? is the dove just an analogy from Jewish literature? etc.). However, I think that we can safely say that when Mark tesll us that the Holy Spirit came down like a dove he means that the Holy Spirit manifested Himself as a dove. Remember, in His normal state the Holy Spirit does not have a body like we do. However, it says that Jesus saw the Spirit descending. This means that Spirit appeared in a form that was different from His normal form so that He would be visible to the eye. In all likelihood the Spirit had taken the form of a dove when He descended down on Jesus. This leads to two questions.
First, if Jesus was God then why did He need the Holy Spirit to come upon Him? Jesus needed the Holy Spirit because He had become a man. He willingly gave up His place at the right hand of the Father in order to take on all the limitations of being a man. Because He gave up His right to exercise many of His divine attributes He needed the aid of the Holy Spirit in order to perform His ministry. Isaiah 11:1-2 predicts this very thing when it says:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

In this prophecy we see that the Holy Spirit would come to energize and aid the Messiah in His task. This point is so important that soon after beginning His ministry Jesus went His hometown of Nazareth and read this from Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

After reading this Jesus told the people that “Today the Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Bruce Ware, commenting on this verse, points out that “it is astonishing that Jesus not only knew that he was the Spirit-anointed Messiah, but he knew that the fact of his being Spirit-anointed was so crucial that he selected this text to read—and announced its fulfillment.”
Keep in mind that just because we read on the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus does not mean that He did not posses the Spirit before this event. This passage is recording for us a special and public anointing of the Spirit. This anointing of the Spirit signifies that He is being equipped for His task, and it is confirmation that He is the Messiah. An anointing such as this is not unusual in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. For example, in 1 Samuel 16:13-14 Daniel was anointed and the Spirit came upon him in order to equip him to be the King. At the same time the “Sprit of the Lord departed from Saul.”
The second question that arises from this passage is how did the people present know that this was the Holy Spirit if He looked like a dove? Couldn’t it have just been an average run-of-the-mill dove? The answer to this question is found in verse 11.  Which we will discuss tomorrow.

The Inauguration of the King – Mark 1:9-13 (pt. 2)

b. Jesus was baptized by John

From Mark’s description of Jesus we start to get a glimpse of what Jesus’ ministry would be all about. He would be mocked and hated. He would bee the despised One of Isaiah 53:3. But despite this, Mark makes it clear to his readers that Jesus willingly accepted this ministry. In verse 9 Jesus publicly submits to this ministry by being baptized by John in the Jordan River. You may be thinking “wait a minute where do you get that from? Jesus never says anything like that!” Let me see if I can explain it by first posing a question. Why was Jesus baptized? John was “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins,” but surely Jesus did not need to repent. Jesus had never sinned. This is why the apostle Paul said that Jesus “knew no sin.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He was perfect in very way. He had no sins to confess; He was “the Holy and Righteous One.” (Acts 3:14) So why was he baptized by John? This is the very same question that John asked.

In Matthew 3:14 we see John’s reaction to Jesus coming to be baptized. It says:


John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
In the next verse (3:15) Jesus answers John and reveals to us why he needed to be baptized:
But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”

Jesus told John to “Let it be so now” even though John was the sinner and Jesus was sinless so that they would “fulfill all righteousness.” When Jesus speaks of “all righteousness” he is talking about God’s plan and purpose for Jesus’ life and ministry. Thus, Jesus was not being baptized as a sign of repentance, but instead was being baptized in order to submit Himself to His God-appointed ministry. Specifically, Jesus was submitting to His role as a sacrifice for sinners. He came to take the place of sinners, to be their representative in order that He might redeem them. And it all started with His baptism. By His baptism He was identifying Himself with sinners.
By publicly being baptized by John Jesus was accepting his role as a representative for the human race. In the Old Testament Isaiah spoke of this role in Isaiah 53:11:

Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

Here Jesus is the righteous one; God’s servant. Through His ministry many will be accounted righteous because he will bear their iniquities. In the New Testament Peter spoke of this same thing in 1 Peter 3:18:

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit…

Jesus came to suffer for sins. He was the righteous sacrifice for the unrighteous.
You may be wondering “why do we need someone to make a sacrifice for us?” The answer to this is that we need someone to make a sacrifice for us because we have all sinned (Romans 3:23). Not only that, but we have sinned against an infinitely good God. The result of this sin is punishment; specifically death (Romans 6:23). This death includes physical death (our bodies die), spiritual death (we are separated from God), and eternal death (we are punished in hell for all eternity).
In order to avoid this three-fold death our relationship with God must be reconciled. Because God is a just God he cannot just ignore our sins. They must be punished. This is where Jesus’ sacrifice comes in. He came to provide the needed infinitely good sacrifice for those whom He was representing. By being put to death he made the payment that we owed for sin. Additionally, his infinite righteousness was credited to our account so that we can now have a relationship with an infinitely righteous God. Through this work alone we can be reconciled to God. This is why Jesus had to identify himself with sinners, and his baptism was the first step in this identification. It was the first step in a ministry that He knew would ultimately lead to His death. And yet he willingly accepted this ministry. He gave up his place at the right hand of the Father. He accepted the limitations of a human being. He subjected Himself to the scorn of being a “Nazarene.” And ultimately, He submitted Himself to dying the death of a criminal on the cross. This is what Jesus was publicly accepting, and submitting Himself to when He was baptized by John in the Jordan.
The question we would ask is why would He do this? The answer is two-fold. First, Jesus submitted Himself to this ministry out of love for His Father. This submissive love is most clearly demonstrated in Jesus’ last time of prayer before being arrested. This prayer is recorded for us in John 17:

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (vv. 1-5)

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (vv. 24ff)

The second reason why Jesus submitted to this ministry that would lead to His death is so that we might be saved! Jesus told his disciples that he “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
In light of this incredible act on the part of Jesus let me encourage you in two ways. First, let me encourage you to have the same submission attitude that Jesus had. The Father gave Him a ministry that involved being lowered to the point of death on a cross, and he willingly accepted this ministry because He loved the Father and He loved other. Similarly, God has placed you where you are in life and gifted you in specific ways so that you can bring Him glory. You need to have the attitude of Jesus and out of love for the Father and for other accept this task from the Lord. There is nothing mysterious about it. There are no secrets ways to determine what task God has given you. It is very simple. All you need to do is get involved. Out of love for the Father, seek His glory by serving Him. Out of love for others, seek their good by serving them. In everything you do have an attitude of submission, and a desire to see God glorified. If you do this then you will be submitting to the task that you were made for.
However, before you can submit to your God-given task, you must first be reconciled to God. So let me implore you with the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21:

We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This is why “Jesus came” and “was baptized.” He came to provide forgiveness through His death and resurrection. You can receive this forgiveness by identifying yourself with Jesus through faith. Repent from you current life of sin, and belief in Jesus so that you will be saved. This is the promise of the Gospel message and this was the amazing ministry that Jesus publicly submitted to by being baptized by John in the Jordan River.

Matthew Smith

Last night our church had the opportunity to host Matthew Smith and his band for a great night of fun and worship. A lot of folks here were introduced to some really good music and it was a blast to minister with those guys. I really encourage any of you who have not heard Matthew’s music to go to to learn more about him and what he is doing. Here are a couple of pictures from last night’s concert:


An Update from Kenya

Over the past couple of months I have been doing my best to keep everyone up-to-date with the happenings of the Sawyer family in Kenya. Recently the political situation has died down a bit, and things have been much easier for the Sawyers lately. In fact, just yesterday I received an e-mail from Travis with some very encouraging news. I want to post for you here so that you can know how to pray for Travis and his family (make sure you make it to the end, there is a great story about his daughter and what she misses about America).  Here is the latest from Travis:

I hope this letter finds you well and continuing to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Many things have happened since our last letter. The youth nights continue to grow and we continue to have older kids and more girls coming! This past week we had 45 kids!

As many of you know Laura and I do the children’s church on Sundays outside under a big tree, that has continued to grow as well. We had 96 this past week and that was not even counting the 8 baby cows that sat and listened.

We have officially, by letter and by word been invited to come and be involved with the school in our community. It currently has 643 students. Unfortunately we only have around 10 teachers to teach all those kids. It has been great being down at the school and getting to know the kids as well as the headmaster. Last week the headmaster called me and wanted me to come and get him to show him our station, he had never seen it before. It was a very good time for us to get to know him better and to strengthen our relationship.

Currently the kids are on break for a month and will return around the 5th of May. As of then we will know better as to what we will actually be doing in the school.

Church is going really well. We continue to see God work and more and more folks coming to worship. We have just recently started a worship team which involves Jon his wife Almi and myself. Jon leads the music and Almi and I are playing the guitars. This has brought many new faces to our congregation and they are actually coming 15 minutes early, just to sing! In the past we would have folks showing up 30-40 minutes after the service had started, so we are very encouraged with this, as well as hearing people walking around humming or singing the new songs they are learning.

We are also playing the music with the workers throughout the week during our morning devotions so they can help us on Sunday. We are currently going through Genesis. I taught the 7 days of creation and Jon has continued on from there. We have just finished about Abraham, Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah. The other day I went down to the school and one of the guys that works there said they heard us singing in the morning devotions and started singing the song we had sung that morning and said how much he liked it. The school is almost half a mile away from us, and he had heard it! Some say it was the wind but Who controls the wind?

The building around here continues on as we try to complete our fence. We are currently pouring a cap on it with concrete and then we will hopefully be able to get the electric fence to go on top. Lately in the community we have had a couple dogs and a sheep eaten by a leopard. The sheep was taken in broad day light. We have had leopard tracks around the compound, and our dogs go crazy at times in the night, so we are hoping to ease our worries from the leopards and other animals with the fencing. We are also hoping to build a youth field this year between the Johnson’s fence and ours. It would be about 40 yards by 40 yards and have soccer goals on each end as well as a small scoreboard and a volley ball court and a swing set. With all the youth that we have had coming, our shop/house is not holding them all.

As for the country it is becoming peaceful again except for a few small riots here and there. Things have become very expensive in price and the dollar has fallen to the shilling even more. Diesel is close to $6 a gallon and propane is very expensive. We heat water by our propane hot water heater. We are trying to cut costs where we can. So our desire is to try and put in a solar hot water system to help save money. The initial cost will be high but will pay for itself in 2 to 3 years.

Our family is doing very well and we love to watch Savannah do new things. She is such a good baby. Very rarely can I not get a smile out of her. Sarah is at the point of loosing her first tooth without the help of Summer. One of Sarah’s top front teeth is just hanging by a thread. She also continues to enjoy school. As I am writing this I hear her counting 77…78…79… She is doing well and Mom has turned out to be a better teacher than she gave herself credit. Summer continues to be Summer. Making us laugh, saying silly things, throwing dirt in Sarah’s eye , constantly playing in the sand pile and wearing her cowboy boots with every outfit.

This is truly is a wonderful place to raise a family, and at the same time it is such a blessing to be able to watch your children and the relationships that they are making. I do however have one problem with Sarah. The other day we were out about 5 miles from the station, we had went out on a 4 wheeler ride to what we call our private hippo pool. As we were sitting out in the bush watching the hippos play and the monkeys throwing things down in the water and the huge Malibu storks walking around, Sarah says,” Daddy you know what I miss about America?” I said, “what?” She said, “the Atlanta zoo.” So I am currently trying to get in her head that we live in the place that all the zoo animals come from and we see them everyday in our front yard. I have had no success yet in this matter.

Laura is continuing to have the girls come over on Wednesdays to have their reading class. She is also going around usually on Thursdays and visiting different ladies that she is making relationships with. Savannah went last Thursday for her first visit with mommy. Since the music is becoming a big part of the church service now , Laura has had to take back over the children’s church under the tree by herself. We have been talking about wisdom the past several weeks in proverbs. As I watch my wife and all that she does I become more and more thankful for who she is and what she does, and I know that all that happens here would be very difficult without her. I am reminded often of the verse in Proverbs that says ” He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord.” So for all of you men who might be reading this I encourage you to wrap your arms around your wife, tell her you love her and thank God for her.

As for prayer requests, I will be starting to go down on Wednesday nights to the house of a friend/worker whose name is Haron. We will start to go through any questions he has about the Bible. He said that there would be others who would want to come also and I said great then we will have alot of questions to keep us busy for a while.


For the Sake of The call,

Travis for the Sawyers

Good for a Laugh

Today is Friday and my head feels like it is Saturday. Unfortunately my desk is filled with items from Monday. If you are in the same boat then you might need to take a moment and have a laugh before you get back to work. If so, then you must check out THIS article on the annual Radio and Television Correspondents Assn. Dinner.  Between Romney, and Chenney there is some really funny stuff.  Here are a few examples of what I am talking about:

Mitt Romney –

In fact, the former candidate said he was there to offer a Top Ten List of why he decided …

to get out of the presidential race, one he reportedly penned himself, with help from his staff. He gamely plunged ahead:

10. There weren’t as many Osmonds as I thought.

9. I got tired of the corkscrew landings under sniper fire.

8. As a lifelong hunter, I didn’t want to miss the start of varmint season.

7. There wasn’t room for two Christian leaders.

6. I was upset that nobody had bothered to search my passport files.

5. I’d rather get fat, grow a beard and try for the Nobel prize.

4. I wanted to finally take off the dark suit and tie and kick back in a light-colored suit and tie.

3. Once my wife realized I couldn’t win, my fundraising dried up.

2. I took a bad fall at a campaign rally and broke my hair.

1. There was a flaw in our theory “As Utah goes, so goes the Nation.”  

Dick Chenney –

But he told the media to “go easy on Sen. (Hillary) Clinton on the whole business of running from gunfire in Bosnia. She made an honest mistake. She confused the Bosnia trip with the time I took her hunting.”

Since it was the last time he would be addressing them, the vice president ended on a complimentary note, saying, “I want to tell you that I like and admire the broadcast media. I want to tell you how much I’ve come to appreciate the work you do often under extraordinarily difficult circumstances…

“I want to tell you all these things, but I just can’t bring myself to.”

Matthew Smith & Indelible Grace

Next week Matthew Smith & Indelible Grace will be making a tour stop right here in Brandon, FL.  I am extremely exctited about this opportunity, and I want to remind you about it again.  Matthew’s music has been nothing but encouraging to me, and it is always a great help to me as I seek to prepare my heart to study God’s Word.  I can vividly remember several occasions when I was weeping with my Bible open and my Ipod playing Mathew’s music.  I want to encourage you, if you have never heard of Matthew, to get to know his music. 

If you are in the area then go BUY A TICKET and come to the concert.  Tickets are only $7 dollars, and it will be a lot of fun.  Plus, it is cheeper to come to the concert than to buy an album–what better way to try out a new musician!?  This will also be a great opportunity to invite an unbelieving friend to come and here this gospel centered music.

If you are not in the area then you can still check out Matthew’s music.  Matthew has made his music available to listen to for free HERE.  If you like it then you can find his tour dates HERE.