Baptism has been on my mind recently. In my tradition, I know what this verse means…but what does it mean for others? A monotheist might put emphasis on the “one God and Father” part; traditions who focus on salvation by baptism put the importance on the “one baptism” part.
Some friends of mine and I are trying to read the Bible in a new, open way. Of course we are coming to the table with our junk, it’s one of the beauties of life that you can’t detach yourself from your past. Even with our preconceived ideas, we’re trying to approach the Bible as though we hadn’t ever been overwhelmed with traditions, memory verses, and impending salvation/punishment. Mark was chosen as the first book to take a shot at…it’s quick paced, one of the gospel accounts…it works on many levels.
Last week was our first meeting and we read aloud through Mark 1 together and discussed demon possession and the casting out that Jesus did. We talked about the how Mark introduced Jesus’s history and the action starts right away. We also talked about Jesus’ baptism, most of us at the table happened this week to be from a church of Christ background, so obviously, this catches our eye if we’re trying to see it with new ones.
One thing I really loved about this group is that technology and historical information weren’t avoided. It seems hip these days to look down on the post-modern kids who immediately go to the internet for answers, but you know what?…it was nice to find out in that hour session that the first recorded demon possession was before Jesus and that ritually, Jews baptized by immersion repeatedly for their transgressions. Which lead us to this passage.
If I were a Jew who believed that I needed to be immersed repeatedly for transgressions against God, and practiced such purification rituals, with someone perhaps named John, someone coming and telling that there was ONE baptism? That would have blown my mind. (Not to mention the difference between the multiple sacrifices and the supplemental one sacrifice of the the cross.) So what does this passage mean for you and your traditions? Is it radical, typical, traditional, or crazy?
4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.