What does Mark 1:9 mean?
ESV: In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
NIV: At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
NASB: In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
CSB: In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
NLT: One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River.
KJV: And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.
NKJV: It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
Verse Commentary:
This verse transitions the focus of the narrative from John the Baptist to Jesus, and in Mark's typical fashion, it is done with no fanfare and little background. There is no mention of Jesus' birth, the Old Testament prophecies which His birth fulfilled, or even the timeframe, although this took place in the late 20s or early 30s AD. Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:1–20), but was primarily raised in Nazareth of Galilee (Matthew 2:19–23). Matthew 3:13–17 and John 1:29–34 give more detail about Jesus' baptism by John.

Baptism, even in John's era, has been a sign that you believe and follow the words of the baptizer. John is very reluctant to baptize Jesus. John wishes to publicly follow Jesus and doesn't understand how he could baptize someone whose sandal he was not worthy to untie (Mark 1:7). But in being baptized by John, Jesus validates John's message of repentance and forgiveness. Where in Mark 1:5 people from all over the region confess and repent, here Jesus affirms their actions. Eventually, He will go further, taking on their sins at the cross so they can be fully forgiven and their relationship with God restored.

It is here that Jesus sets the precedence for our baptism. Although baptism is not necessary for salvation, it is a public statement that we repent of our sins and seek God's forgiveness. But Christian baptism goes beyond what John offered—it is an illustration of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and, therefore, a critical part of the instructions Jesus gave the disciples as they spread the gospel (Matthew 28:19–20). While John's baptism acknowledged our need for forgiveness, Christian baptism acknowledges that we are forgiven!
Verse Context:
Mark 1:1–13 rapidly introduces the ministry of Jesus, as introduced by John the Baptist. While other Gospels include many details, the Gospel of Mark briefly sets the stage for Jesus' baptism by John. In a few short verses, we are told that John preached a message of repentance, that Jesus came to be baptized, and that Jesus spent forty days being tempted in the wilderness. The narrative quickly moves on to describe Jesus' miraculous healings.
Chapter Summary:
John the Baptist is introduced as a figure preparing the world for the arrival of the Messiah. John's baptism teaches people about their need for repentance. When Jesus arrives, and is baptized, it signals the coming of God's fulfillment and the need of people to recognize their Savior. Mark briefly notes Jesus' baptism, desert temptation, and the calling of the first four disciples. After this, Jesus begins teaching in the synagogue and performs miraculous healings which spread His fame around the region.
Chapter Context:
The first chapter of the Gospel of Mark sets the tone for the rest of the story. Mark's writing is concise, action-packed, and short on details. Within a few verses, Mark establishes the transition from the wilderness ministry of John the Baptist to the healing and preaching of Jesus Christ. This first chapter includes the calling of Jesus' earliest disciples, His early miracles, and His early teaching. This establishes the pattern shown throughout the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus mingles His teaching with miraculous signs.
Book Summary:
The Gospel of Mark emphasizes both Jesus' servanthood and His role as the promised Messiah: the Son of God. This is done through a concise, action-packed style. Mark provides relatively few details, instead focusing on actions and simple statements. This relates to the Gospel's authorship, which is believed to be based on the memories of the apostle Peter. These include many of Jesus' miracles, in contrast to other Gospels which include many more of Jesus' teachings and parables. Mark also makes frequent mention of Jesus' ministry being misunderstood by others.
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