Tag Archives: John the Baptist

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 (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.


Between the Lines: Epiphany 2: January 15, 2012

Text: John 1:43-51

John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “Where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...Wonder how this story from John might reflect part of your own story. Who first told you something about Jesus? Parents, Sunday School teacher, minister, or even seminary professor? What do you recall them saying to you? What was it that led you to follow after Jesus? Had Jesus turned to you as he does to the two disciples and asked “What are you looking for?” what might you have answered? As a child, teenager, young adult? What are you looking for today as you follow Jesus? Hoping to find, discover, learn, become what? How has Jesus told you to “Come and see”? Where has following Jesus led you to go? What have you seen? John speaks of Jesus as “the lamb of God.” From where you have been and with what you have seem how do you now describe Jesus? How did you follow him today? Where did you find him staying? What did you see?

– Bill Dols

BibleWorkbench: Epiphany 3: January 23, 2011

Text: Matthew 4:12-23

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. . . From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew clearly links the death of John to the beginnings of Jesus’ public ministry. What do you imagine John’s death represents for Jesus? What kind of relationship might they have? What might Jesus have lost with John’s death?

What do you know in your own life or the life of someone around you of how the death of a friend, a mentor, a spouse, a family member might open up a new direction, a new endeavor, a new way of living? What is lost in that death? What is gained?

– Andy Kille