John the Baptizer

“And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.” -Mark 1:5

Read Mark 1:4-8

After three intense months of boot camp I graduated as a Marine. Beaten in body and mind day and night, taught to endure pain, blood and sweat, I had been pushed beyond limits I thought existed. When I marched across the parade grounds, I knew I had earned the title of Marine. I pledged my utmost allegiance to the U.S. Marine Corps and the USA, committed to live, kill and die for them.

For the Jews of John’s time, baptism worked very much like Marine Corps graduation had for me. John had set the example. He lived a disciplined life, committed to live, breathe and die in allegiance to God. He called others to the same vow before God, to declare their utmost allegiance by baptism. The baptized set themselves at risk of persecution by the religious Jews or Rome.

During Advent we look forward to Christ’s second coming and remember his first coming. Jesus also vowed his allegiance to God, committing through baptism to a disciplined life of fasting, prayer and love. Ultimately, his vow cost him his life at the hands of both the religious and secular leaders.

Who holds your allegiance today? What is the foundation of your identity? As a Marine, I was aligned with the U.S. government. My identity was with the Corps. As a Christian, I am aligned with God’s will. My identity is in Jesus. For whom will you live, breathe and die? Will you choose God or spouse? God’s kingdom or national citizenship? God or money? Whom will you serve?

Father, thank you for the example of John and the call to allegiance to you alone. Teach us the discipline to live, breathe and die for you so that we display Jesus in all we say and do.

Joseph M. Medina, M.A. Old Testament/New Testament Student, Assistant to the Dean, Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary