Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jesus' Baptism

And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. (Mark 1:11-12)

So spoke God, audibly, upon the completion of Jesus' baptism by John in the Jordan. In doing so God made a connection between two very different Messianic prophecies:
I will tell of the decree:The LORD said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you. (Ps 2:7)

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isa 42:1)

At the time, Ps. 2 was interpreted by the Jews as a Messianic prophesy--the Messiah would be of the line of David; his relationship with the Father would be familial.

It is not clear whether the passage from Isaiah was viewed as Messianic prophecy. But we see the clear connection--the soul delights and the Spirit upon him fits Jesus' baptism perfectly. It was as if God was reminding those with ears to hear: yes the Messiah is my son, but he is also the Messiah described by my prophet Isaiah--the suffering servant, rescuer of both Jews and Gentiles.

The Isaiah passage continues:
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. (Isa 42:2-3)

The image is of a public ministry marked by humility, modest in apparent size and scope, and eschewing confrontation.

In any case, it is clear that very few Jews believed that the Messiah would suffer or be as low-key as is prophesied, so clearly to us, throughout Isaiah. This blindness toward the character of the Messiah's public life as detailed by Isaiah meant that Jesus was unrecognizable to most as the one foretold.

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