The most important phrase in this piece from Mark is the last line – “I have baptised you with water but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit”. If you can unpack that statement I think you have pretty much unpacked Christianity.
Therein lies the fundamental Christian experience.
The word Christ commonly applied to Jesus as in Jesus Christ means – “anointed” which means to be covered in oil. To be anointed with the Holy Spirit is to be covered with God. To be baptised with the Holy Spirit is to be immersed in God. You see how similar they are?
But what does being immersed in God’s Spirit feel like? What that meant for Jesus Mark then goes on to explain.....
Being anointed by God for Jesus was like hearing the words “You are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased” spoken to him personally. It was relational – it was about feeling an intimate connection. From then on he started referring to God as Father. So being baptised in the Holy Spirit produces a revelation of interconnectedness.
But being anointed in God’s spirit isn’t restricted to Jesus is it? In this morning’s reading Mark has John promising that all of us can be baptised in the Holy Spirit. We too are to hear those words “You are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased” spoken to us and received by us in our hearts. When asked how they should pray Jesus taught us to pray “Our Father”. His Father is our father too. It is why Christians often refer to each other as brothers and sisters.
But do you know and relate to those words? Do you feel them? Do you believe them?
That we are “children of God” is attested throughout the New Testament, in Matthew, Luke, John, Romans, Galatians, Philippians and 1 John. But the neatest definition is given by Paul in Romans “For all who are led by the spirit of God are children of God” (Romans 8:14)
I suggest that most people understand the word Christian to mean a mere follower of someone who was uniquely anointed with God’s spirit but I say that its true meaning and importance lies in ourselves being anointed bearers of God’s spirit.
What is it to be a child of God? Well it obviously means there is as intimate a connection to God as you have to your human parents. Your parents are in a funny but very real way a part of you even while you have a separate existence from them.
We are all a product of our mothers and Fathers. There is nothing in our genes that did not come from them. We bear a family likeness that we may sometimes try and disown but to no avail. As a song once said, “We all have our Father’s eyes”
As it is on the level of human generation so it is on the grand stage of our relationship with the divine being. We all have our Father’s eyes.
We share the family likeness but many of us don’t know the intimacy – the kind of intimacy that Jesus discovered when he was anointed with God’s spirit – that is, he felt immersed in God, just as in his baptism he was immersed in water and felt himself for the first time to be a child of God.
Being a Christian is far more than following a man who died two thousand years ago. It is about being anointed with the same living spirit that Jesus was himself anointed with – imbuing us with a kind of spirit that might allow us walk the same way that Jesus walked. In essence that we may know God
It is about restoring the intimate relationship that we have lost – something that in theology is called atonement. Atonement just means being at one with God and each other.
To be a true follower of Jesus I suggest that we have to first know what he knew, feel what he felt, to be anointed – to be Christs ourselves. To feel connected.
Each of us, if we are to flourish, needs to hear those words of intimate affirmation spoken to us and to be received by us. “You are my child, the beloved. With you I am well pleased”.