The Second Sunday after Epiphany
January 17, 2021
Mark 1:4-8 (NIV) “And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: "After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Savior. In order to prepare the hearts of sinners – and who is not a sinner? – he preached “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
He admonished people to repent, that is, to turn from their sins and believe in the Savior. That is the same message the Word of God gives us today. Scripture teaches that repentance, in a narrow sense, is sincere sorrow over sins and a desire to stop sinning. And in a broad sense, also from Scripture, repentance is 1) sincere sorrow over sins and a desire to stop sinning, and 2) faith in the forgiveness of sins and 3) bringing forth in our lives fruits of the forgiveness of sins.
John was a strange-looking character who proclaimed a strange message. But isn’t every Christian today also a strange character in this world? The Christian doesn’t live, work, talk, and think like all those in the unbelieving world. But is that the picture we really give to the world every day? Sometimes our sinful flesh takes over, and we really don’t talk and live like God’s beloved, redeemed children. We, too, still have our sinful flesh and must daily fight against ourselves.
May God give us the will and strength to stand up against the world and truly live, talk, and think like God’s beloved children!
O Lord, we beg of thee to receive the prayers of thy people when they call upon thee. Grant that they may know and understand what you would have them do, and give them power to faithfully do those things. This we ask through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord.