He Will Baptize You With the Holy Spirit

Meditation: Mark 1:7-11
 NAB Reading at USCCB.org

“I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)

When people compare John the Baptist with Jesus, John doesn’t usu­ally come out looking too good. He tends to be portrayed as a tough guy preaching a fire-and-brimstone gos­pel—not a very approachable fellow. By contrast, Jesus is seen as more of a soft touch. He’s often portrayed as a gentle fellow, smiling as he heals people and tells us to love each other. John wants to tell us what we’ve done wrong, but Jesus wants to be our friend.

But is this contrast justified? In today’s reading, John is anything but a hardnosed preacher. All he wants to do is point people toward Jesus, the one who was going to give them the Holy Spirit. He told the people that the reason for his call to repen­tance wasn’t to heap guilt on them. Rather, it was so that they would be ready to receive the salvation Jesus had come to bring. Interestingly enough, when Jesus does appear on the scene, he preaches the very same message of repentance—in the exact same words!—that John did (Mark 1:14-15). It seems that both John and Jesus had more similarities than differences after all!

These similarities between John and Jesus can give us some insights into our own call to preach the gos­pel. They tell us that, just like John and Jesus, we too need to capture the excitement and hope embodied in the phrase: “The kingdom of God is at hand!” At its heart, the gospel is good news about a God who calls us to his side. It’s the good news about a merciful God who wants to wipe away all our sins and set us free from guilt. It’s the good news about a God who wants to welcome us into his kingdom—forever!

It is a great privilege to be called to do the same work that John and Jesus did. It’s a great privilege to show people the way into the kingdom of heaven. Whether it is through our words or our example, we can become ambassadors for the Lord.

So what’s the good news you’re going to share today? How will you announce the kingdom?
“Lord, teach me how to share your good news with the people around me.”
1 John 5:5-13; Psalm 147:12-15,19-20

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