When our dog Rupert was a puppy, he was so afraid of going outside I’d have to drag him to the park. After getting him there one day, I foolishly let him off his leash. He sprinted home, back to his place of safety.
That experience reminded me of a man I met on a plane, who began apologizing to me as we taxied down the runway. “I’m going to get drunk on this flight,” he said. “It sounds like you don’t want to,” I replied. “I don’t,” he said, “but I always run back to the wine.” He got drunk, and the saddest part was watching his wife embrace him when he got off the plane, smell his breath, then push him away. Drink was his place of safety, but it was no safe place at all.
Jesus began His mission with the words, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). “Repent” means to reverse direction. The “kingdom of God” is His loving rule over our lives. Instead of running to places that entrap us, or being ruled by fears and addictions, Jesus says we can be ruled by God Himself, who lovingly leads us to new life and freedom.
Today Rupert runs to the park barking with joy. I pray the man on the plane finds that same joy and freedom, leaving behind his false place of safety.
What false place of safety do you run to in times of fear or stress? How will you leave it behind today and place yourself under God’s freeing rule?
Why would Jesus go to John to be baptized? (Mark 1:9). Mark records that John came “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (v. 4), and Matthew records that John baptized “with water for repentance” (3:11). Jesus was the only sinless person to walk the earth, so He wasn’t in need of repentance or forgiveness. Some have argued that Christ’s baptism was part of His identification with humanity in its sinful state. Others have said it was the inauguration of His ministry. Perhaps Jesus was identifying with us in His surrender to God and to the Father’s will. That’s what those confessing their sins were doing—surrendering to God—and in that vein, Jesus was doing the same thing.