“John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
“As he preached he said, ‘The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.’” (Mark 1:4-8, The Message)
Reading The Message paraphrase of Scripture can help us see things we previously missed. Such was the case when I read the above passage from Mark–”a baptism of life-change.” Life-change is The Message‘s way of rendering what traditionally is given as “repentance,” and it’s a good way to capture the meaning of that more traditional religious word.
When people come to Christ, life-change is often utmost in their minds. As time passes, however, we can forget that we have been baptized into life-change, into a way of living life that is no longer self-centered but God-centered. Life-change, it turns out, is something needed with each new day because our selves pull hard against our Lord’s way.
As John said, Jesus is the “star in this drama.” He was then, and he is now. We give up an old life for a kingdom life, and Christ is the king.
Some days it’s hard to let the king reign, but it’s always good to do so. We can be thankful for a forgiving king, but we can also be thankful for king who wants to help us change more into his likeness.
A prayer: Dear God, thank you for forgiving us. Thank you, as well, for pointing us toward a life of greater purpose and meaning. Help us live a life that acknowledges you as king.