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Why Was Jesus Baptized? Redux
© 01.18.21 By D. Eric Williams

This article appeared in the January 21 edition of the Cottonwood Chronicle

First Corinthians fifteen says, The Scriptures tell us, "The first man, Adam, became a living person." But the last Adam - that is, Christ - is a life-giving Spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45). There is a lot of "theology" packed into this passage but for our purpose we note that Jesus is the last Adam. Thus, there are at least two Adams in history; Adam at the beginning of creation and Jesus Christ the last Adam at the beginning of a new creation. The fact is there were three Adamic figures in history with the nation of Israel as the second. A comparison of the Adamic characteristics in the three brings this to light.

Adam was created to serve and protect the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15); service and protection are priestly duties (Numbers chapter 1 and chapter 3). God gave commands to Adam and by implication, he was supposed to be an example of obedience to his offspring. In addition, Adam was the covenant or federal head of humanity (Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15). Finally, he is called the son of God (Luke 3:38). Israel was called to serve and protect in the Promised Land. Thus, they were a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:5). They received law (Exodus 20 and so on) and were an example to all the Earth. If obedient, they would be the head not the tail - through whom salvation would come as covenant people. Moreover, they were called (corporately) the son of God (Exodus 4:22 and so on). Jesus came to serve and protect the Bride, the living church. He is the great high priest. He obeyed the law, always doing the will of the Father and he is an example we should follow. He is the last Adam, the covenant head of God's people. Of course, he is the true son of God, the Eternal Son made flesh.

Another important Adamic characteristic is a connection to the place where heaven and earth come together. The garden, the Temple, Jesus Christ himself; these are the places where heaven and earth meet. Each is the contact point between God and humanity. We who are in Christ express God's will on earth as it is in heaven and therefore we also are a place where heaven and earth meet. In Mark's Gospel we read, in those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens split open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. Then a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with you!" (Mark 1:9-11).

Most translations of Mark 1:10 indicate Jesus was the one who saw the heaven splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending. There is no reason to doubt this understanding. Indeed, it is important this detail of the event remains within the focus of Jesus Christ.

The Greek word translated as split or torn is schizo. Mark used this word one other time to describe the rending of the temple curtain at Jesus' death. The limited use of the term is not an accident. Both times Mark described a (new) creation event. He recounted a rending of the barrier between heaven and earth. He described a point of contact between the heavenly and the earthly realms.

We will return to this topic next week.

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