A good number came to our Bible study on Thursday, 17 September, which formed part of our Vision4Life Bible year, and was led by our Minister, Stephen Thornton.
The passage we considered was from Mark’s Gospel – the first Gospel to be written. Stephen reminded us to keep bright, open minds when studying the text and not to bring any preconceived ideas from the other Gospels or from early Church theology.
We read Mark 1, verses 9-11, which describes the baptism of Jesus and marks the start of his public ministry. We discussed our first reactions to the story, and especially we considered what it means to be called ‘God’s son’:
- Someone who shows us God;
- When we look at Jesus we see what God is like;
- Jesus shows us what humankind should be like.
Stephen gave us some background information which would help us to a deeper understanding:
Roman and Jewish leaders controlled the towns, and only revolutionaries went out into the wilderness. By joining the crowd who met beyond the control of the leaders Jesus showed that he wanted to be identified with those who were desperate for change. Jesus was starting a revolution for God.
It was a society where status was closely linked to family. However no reference is made to either John or Jesus’ families.
We took time to discuss the following questions in smaller groups:
- What did Jesus bring to the encounter?
- What did he receive?
- Why did God act then?
- What did God expect of Jesus?
- What does the passage say to us?
- What is the challenge here?
In sharing our ideas with the wider group we gained valuable insights into the passage, what is meant by baptism, and in particular how we might identify with the expectations God sets upon us.
We concluded by singing a song based upon the passage which had been specially written for the Bible study, and ended the evening with prayer.
(1) Baptism of Jesus by Tissot,
(2) The Baptism of Jesus, Stained glass window, Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Downers Grove, Illinois