The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way,
3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare[c] the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight,’”
4 John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” – Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptist was a strange fellow. He dressed weird. He wore camel’s hair, not designer camel’s hair, just raw camel’s hair with a raw leather belt. He also had a strange diet, locusts, and wild honey. The wild honey sounds OK, but I’m personally not going for the locusts any time soon. I’m thinking that he looked like some of our homeless people, rather disheveled. He certainly wouldn’t fill the bill as a preacher at a seeker-friendly church.
His message when he announced the coming and presence of Jesus was not what I would have expected. He had been preaching repentance for the forgiveness of our sins, but when he introduced Jesus, he had a different message. I would have expected it to be something about Jesus death and resurrection or about Jesus being the Son of God. But, no. John said, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
To a Jewish person, this was extraordinarily good news. To an Old Testament person of faith, the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God, was an elusive thing (more properly, person). There was no indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of an Old Covenant believer. They were regenerated, that is, they were alive in Christ (although they wouldn’t say it that way). They did have a heart for God. They were alive to God, not dead in their trespasses and sins. The Old Covenant language that describes this condition is that they had a circumcised heart. The unregenerate Jew was said to have an uncircumcised heart.
As New Covenant followers of Jesus, we do have the indwelling Holy Spirit and often take him for granted. We don’t appreciate the amazing reality that the ongoing work of Jesus takes place in us through the Holy Spirit. For some people, what I share now will seem a bit controversial. There is a difference between having the indwelling Holy Spirit and being filled with the Holy Spirit. I am not writing about a Pentecostal or Charismatic idea. This is for every believer.
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.1
This phrase, “be filled with the Spirit,” is an ongoing repeated process, not a one-time event. John Piper translates this as “Keep on being filled with the Spirit.” 2 It has also been translated “be being filled with the Spirit.”
John the Baptist had the long view, he was seeing beyond the cross and the grave to the results of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit to all who receive Christ.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”3
I encourage you to wait on God for the fullness of the Holy Spirit in your life every day, then pursue the promptings of the Holy Spirit so you can follow the Spirit of Jesus through your days empowered by his resurrection power.