Short one this week, and it should seem familiar...
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
-- Mark 1:4
Verse 4 is quoted in Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article 5: Law and Gospel (SD 5.4) as an example of the word "gospel" being used in the Bible to refer to the fullness of the proclamation in both God's law and God's grace. This rests within the larger conversation of what the word "gospel" means both in the Bible and in Luther's writing. After Luther's death, there was some confusion. They decided that the word "gospel" can be primarily used in one of two ways. First, "gospel" might mean, like it does here, the full teaching about God's will as made known to us in Jesus, which includes law and good news. This is the general use of gospel. Second, "gospel" might mean quite particularly the proclamation of God's forgiveness of our sins, being entirely free of law. This is the strict use of gospel.
I find it intriguing that water is a scriptural image of chaos, forgiveness, and new beginnings. It's almost as if we need times of chaos so that we can discover the Spirit of God and the voice of God in our lives. The image of our baptism with water is the death of the old person so that the new person might be raised up. Through the forgiveness God gives in the baptismal waters we can see the Spirit present in our lives, even in chaotic times.
- What other images come to mind connected with water?
- How can these connections bring us back to our baptism into the body of Christ?