Between the Lines: Baptism of Jesus: January 13, 2013

Text: Luke 3: 15-17; 21-22

“He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Whirl-fire

Whirl-fire (Photo credit: Loving Earth)

The Q text not found in Mark but in Luke and Matthew adds “with fire” to the Mark verse “I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” [Mark 1:8]. Both Luke and Matthew go on to include in John the Baptist’s speech  fire, the winnowing fork, clearing his threshing floor, gathering the wheat into the granary but the chaff to burn with unquenchable fire.

One possibility is that this part of the text was originally in Mark but was later excised. This poses the question of why later editors would remove it. On the other hand, if it is, indeed, from Q one must ask whether the words were simply unknown to Mark’s community and might have been created in later years.

For us, the disparity poses two somewhat different portraits of Jesus. From what you know of Jesus throughout the gospels would you say he is a “fire, threshing floor and unquenchable fire” kind of prophet and person? If Jesus is, as many say, a reflection of God in the flesh, what is being said of your image of God? Do you believe in, worship and pray to a God who includes such fire? How are the decisions you make daily fashioned and influenced by Holy Spirit or Holy Spirit and fire? How do you choose your way through your days with or without a threat of the threshing floor and the unquenchable fire?

– Bill Dols


“Between the Lines” is excerpted from BibleWorkbench, a weekly resource for engaging the biblical story in a new way published by the Educational Center in Charlotte, NC.  For details and subscription information, see About BibleWorkbench.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s