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“He saw heaven being torn open…”

When the heavens above Jesus open in Mark 1:10, we are treated to a glimpse, a momentary peek, into the dynamic life of the Triune God.  Christians throughout the ages have come to know and describe their God as both three-in-one and one-in-three; one God in three Persons.  Thinking about this can wrack our brains, but it can also ignite our imaginations…  This means that our God lives in love and unity: with Himself.  That each Person of his being is distinct, but vitally connected, inextricable from the other Two.  That the God of the bible is a Community of Love in and of Himself.

When the bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8), it means that God’s very being is love and that this love happens within Himself.  God can love and dance (the best way early theologians knew how to describe this playful dynamic) without creation or without us.  So when the heavens are “torn open,” when the Spirit hovers over the baptismal waters and descends upon Jesus as a Dove (think Genesis 1:2 or maybe Genesis 8:6-12), when the Father commends Jesus as His Beloved Son (ie John 3:16), it is as if we are standing on sidewalk looking through a lit window to see the fullness of God residing.  This sets the table for the rest of Mark’s good news.

The wonder of Mark’s gospel, the reason he’s so intense, urgent and sometimes even impatient, is that he’s talking about God coming onto the human scene in a decisive and powerful way.  Jesus bursts into the world not as a mere Messiah (though that would satisfy plenty of expectations in itself), or not as a messenger bearing a good word for people to accept (after all that was sort of John the Baptist’s job), but as the very image (Colossians 1:15) of the God who creates, redeems, and loves, not because he has to but because that’s who He is and that’s what He does.

Mark documents this baptism scene in such a way that braces us for a HUGE perspective on the events of Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection that further unfold who God is, what God has done, and what God can be about for us now!