God Breaks The Silence


And this was his message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptise you with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1: 7-8).

Was this the message that captivated the crowds so that they came from far and near to hear this wild prophet? God had been silent for 400 years. Oh yes, there were many who acted in His name. Through the turmoil of those four centuries, when Israel was caught between rival empires and tossed back and forth like a volley ball in a beach match, God was not inactive. Silent, but at work, orchestrating circumstances and events to prepare the way for the arrival of His Messiah, God moved each nation into position.

Suddenly, out of the blue, God speaks again through the mouth of a man who seemed to materialise out of nowhere. Not many would have remembered his miraculous birth thirty years before, to an elderly couple from a priestly clan who were long past childbearing years. How would they, when he did not even have his father’s name?

Not only was his appearance out of nowhere and his wild look and wild ways riveting, but also his message was nothing like the message of any other prophet before him. Messiah was no longer a vague and mysterious figure of the future but He was here, about to make His appearance among them, and he, John, was His forerunner. Where was He and why was his Herald not appropriately dressed and riding ahead of Him on a fine steed and blowing a trumpet to announce His presence?

Everything was so different from what they expected. This “Messiah” was no ordinary monarch, arriving on the scene with pomp and ceremony to take over the kingdom and drive out the occupying Romans. His birth, too, thirty years previously, was hardly remembered. A few shepherds on a hillside outside Bethlehem, were summoned to greet Him. Some might have remembered the horrifying slaughter of infant boys because the despotic and neurotic Herod ordered it. Most of those who remembered did not even know why.

John made it clear that he knew his place with this man. He was no more than a voice to announce His arrival and a servant who did as he was told. He took no credit for his task. He was appointed to do it and he did it with passion, shouting to all who would listen that it was time for them to stop living as they pleased and return to the way of the Lord.

His message was short and to the point. “I am not the one. He is coming after me. I immerse you in water as a symbol of cleansing and setting you apart for a new life. He will immerse you in the Holy Spirit.” What was that all about? They thought Messiah was coming to set up God’s kingdom in Israel once again – free from Roman oppression, to enjoy the bounty of God’s provision and protection from all their enemies.

What was this about the Holy Spirit? Who or what was this Holy Spirit? What did He or it have to do with Messiah and what they expected Him to do? Mark’s version of John’s message is a summary which is expanded by Matthew and Luke.

I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor, gathering His wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire (Matt. 3: 11-12).

What was he getting at? Was he talking about separating believers from unbelievers and sending the unbelievers to hell? Hardly! Since the chaff is part of the wheat grains but inedible, the process of winnowing was to separate the chaff from the wheat so that the edible part could be gathered up and the worthless part burned. Is this not speaking about removing from people’s lives that which was useless so that their lives would be purified and become worthwhile and profitable as God’s people?

Messiah did not come to get rid of the Romans. He came to deal with sin, once and for all, and to return the Holy Spirit to the lives of His people so that He would continue the work of cleansing His people by separating out the “chaff” in their lives and consigning it to the “fire”.  John’s work was to make the people aware of the identity of Messiah, and to pave the way for His atoning work on the cross.

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Have you read my new book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (copyright 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!

Available on www.amazon.com or www.kalahari.com in paperback, e-book or kindle format, or order directly from the publisher at www.partridgepublishing.com.

Check out my blogsite at www.learningtobeason.wordpress.com

Luella Campbell

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