Thursday, January 10, 2008

Baptismus Jesu

You will see that we have passed over section 17. Later, says Mark, we will deal with it. Now to section 18.

The spring, Beloved, is a beautiful time at the Jordan, not yet too hot for comfort. Jesus goes to John with all Judea, to implicate himself in the state of this world, to fulfill all righteousness.

The one who baptizes is also baptized. The Holy One comes to us who can only immerse ourselves in water. He becomes one with us completely by being baptized in water. (So we being one with him are instructed to be baptized in this present age into his death. We will see this pattern later.) Jesus identifies with the repentance called for by John, his messenger. Spirit baptizer is one with the water baptized.

This, Beloved, is the Beloved who baptizes with the Spirit and with fire. We need the fire, and we need not fear it for it refines. This is the fire on the earth that Luke speaks of later, but I get ahead of myself. This is the fire subsumed by love in the crucifixion, but again I get ahead of myself. Notice too how the Spirit is like a dove descending - all four witnesses agree as our colours show. The fire is gentle as a dove to the one who needs no refining. As Isaiah says, the Spirit rests on him. God finds his rest in this man. For Jesus, his unity with the Spirit in the Father is never in doubt.

God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.

And I am a minister of that reconciliation on your behalf, Beloved. It is the same rest into which we are invited. The joy at the feet of the Most High is unspeakable and too little known in the Spirit on this earth where the fire has been set. Let no one imagine that the fire is of no consequence. Let no one imagine that it justifies violence. It absorbs the violent by love.

And the heavens are opened. Who saw the heavens opened? Do you think this is imagination? What could it mean?

I read what I have written, and I see that it cannot say what needs to be known. I fear that it will be drawn into the lust for power that is so clear in recent letters I have seen. As around goat's cheese, sweet though it is, a crust forms to protect the sweetness, so it is with the sweetness of the Gospel, that a crust of human authority forms around the sweetness, implying that nothing outside has such sweetness. But as with goat's cheese, encrusted sweetness will sour and rot on its own, for the life is not in it by virtue of human authority.

An opened Heaven does not require the permission of the Bishop of Antioch or the Bishop of Rome, nor is the sweetness of the Spirit subject to the presence of a bishop. And how they go on concerning sacred vessels and touching or not touching.

This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.

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