Today’s WORD (Text)               Mark 1:9-15

9/ In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10/ And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11/ And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”  12/ And the Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. 13/ He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.  14/ Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15/ and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”


Today’s Witness

Did you notice how quickly events transpired in those six verses in Mark 1:9-15?  Perhaps we don’t give Mark sufficient recognition for going right to the heart of the identity, missional and kerygmatic issues in his first chapter.  In rapid succession he cites the following:

  • Jesus’ humble roots from Nazareth.
  • Jesus’ submission to John’s baptism, thereby affirming the role of baptism and modeling obedience to his Father’s directives.
  • The role of the Holy Spirit in baptism, foreshadowing the ongoing activity of the Holy Spirit in the ministry of Jesus and in the life of the church.
  • God’s ‘voice’ is heard, indicating God’s intended ‘vocation’ for Jesus as the only beloved Son. That was not just a statement about intimacy, but also about vocation. 
  • Jesus immediately sets apart a season for intensive spiritual preparation and formation in the wilderness, with all that is signified by wilderness, including the ancient wanderings.
  • God was present with Jesus in the wilderness, making it a spiritual season, not a time of wandering.
  • The persecution suffered by John, foreshadowing the suffering of Jesus and his disciples. 
  • Jesus came preaching.  He inaugurated God’s reign in the earth, and that is the Gospel.

Others may see additional issues in Mark 1 that are missed by this reader or may interpret their meaning differently, but the point remains, a lot is going on in those verses.  

Today’s Invitation

What aspect of the above outline inspires you most today as you begin the Lenten observance?

Today’s Prayer

Dear Lord, when we consider your ministry in the earth, including all that you sacrificed to share in our humanity, and all that you modeled in your divinity, we are so thankful.  Grant us insights into your identity as God’s Son, the Christ.  Thank you for ushering in a new dispensation when God’s authority as Creator and Loving God are shown through your ministry of reconciliation.  Amen.

The Passionary Intention

Today, I choose to live my life with passion.  Today, I intend to follow Christ more nearly, love more dearly and incarnate God’s grace more clearly by asking myself three questions:

  • Where will I follow Christ today?
  • To whom shall I demonstrate Jesus’ love and justice today?
  • How can I play my part in practicing the presence of Christ, right here, right now?


The Passionary Movement Word and Witness devotion is published weekdays (Monday – Friday).  Dr. Jeffrey Haggray, Executive Director of American Baptist Home Mission Societies is the author of today’s devotion.