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Mark’s first-century biography – page 2

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 

Those days? Around AD 27. Also, the days when John the Baptist was baptizing thousands who were deeply mourning over their sinfulness and seeking to show that to all by being baptized by John. Galilee still goes by that name – an area in north Israel.

Those days? The days when John was continually saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”


And 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. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” 

No one knows what it was really like when the heavens (literally “the skies”) were torn open. Or when the Spirit came down “like a dove”. But one thing is very clear. The voice from the skies indicated the Father’s delight in the Son. 

Those words from the opened skies would have been well known to some standing there as relating to an incident in a book kept and read in AD 30 in many synagogues. Moses has recorded the incident in his book titled “Genesis” – now reproduced in all Christian Bibles.

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” The sacrifice never took place. God halted the testing.
‘By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he … was in the act of offering up his only son, …. He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.’ (From Hebrews - a first century letter to Jewish Christians) ... 


The land of Moriah was, in Abraham’s day (circa 2,000 BC) an uninhabited mountainous region. One thousand years later (around 950 BC) King Solomon of Israel built a temple on that same hill in what had become the city of Jerusalem. Another 1,000 years later (around AD 30) Jesus, condemned as a criminal sinner, was crucified outside its walls. 

In this AD 30 incident, Jesus joined the queue of sinners. It seems that this pleased, that day, the LORD God above, maybe because this was the very start of the Son agreeing to be sacrificed in the place of sinners. And, like Abraham’s son, trusting his Father in all things.

“Because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and … in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” (BC 1350 record of God’s words to Abraham after the Moriah incident.)

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

This beloved Son was driven “by the Spirit” into a testing wilderness. The test itself was in the hands of “the Adversary” (the English meaning of the Greek ‘Satanas’). Would Jesus decide to give in and save himself - or carry on?

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

King Herod had arrested John - and would soon behead him in prison. Jesus still goes ahead into Galilee preaching the gospel (the ‘good news’). 

John the Baptist was not only the promised fore-runner of Jesus but also a relative. He had said: “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  

So, Jesus pleases his Father in the skies, identifies with sinners and chooses self-sacrifice rather than succumb to the Adversary. His future is shown to him – he will be arrested and killed just like his relative who had endorsed him.

But he had a good reason to go ahead: the many people who needed to hear this “gospel” – this good news. So, he went ahead with it. 

Sinner Syvret

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