Tag: Chapter by Chapter Study

The Baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:9-11)

The Baptism of Jesus (Mark 1:9-11)

Mark 1:9-11 (GWT)

John Baptizes Jesus

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came out of the water, he saw heaven split open and the Spirit coming down to him as a dove. 11 A voice from heaven said, “You are my Son, whom I love. I am pleased with you.”

Mark 1:9-11 (NKJV)

John Baptizes Jesus

It came to pass in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And immediately, coming up [a]from the water, He saw the heavens [b]parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.


  1. Mark 1:10NU out of
  2. Mark 1:10torn open


Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan: Jesus was not baptized because He needed cleansing from sin; He was sinless, as John himself understood (Matthew 3:14). Instead, Jesus was baptized in keeping with His entire mission on earth: to do the will of the Father and to identify with sinful man.

It is important for us to remember that Jesus was NOT required to do either of these things. He did not need to be baptized (but was as a model of obedience for us), neither did he have to die on the cross. HE CHOSE THE CROSS because it was the good pleasure of the entire Godhead to redeem a people unto themselves and the cross was the price of that redemption. Only God Himself could satisfiy the blood price of redemption because it had to be sinless and so the Divine Son was incarnated to live a sinless lite and overcome the curse so that He could presnt a redeemed people to God the Father.

This next section poses no small problem for the modalist/oneness believer. The entire Trinity is simultaneously present at the baptism of Jesus


You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased:

When this voice of God the Father spoke from heaven, everyone knew that Jesus was not just another man being baptized. They knew Jesus was the perfect (in whom I am well pleased) Son of God, identifying with sinful man.

Many claim that Jesus never claimed to be God. Aside from the fact that this is patently untrue, even if He had not declared His deity, God the Father declared the deity of the Son. In calling Him “my son” God the Father identified the Son as also being God.

In Psalm 2 (An incredibly Messianic Psalm) YHWH speaks to the Lord and says, “Thou art my Son. Today I have begotten thee.” Furthermore the Father, speaking to the Son, says “Thy Throne, O God, is forever. (Psalm 45:6, Hebrews 1:8)

This strange scene displayed a humble beginning:

  • Jesus: A common, unremarkable name.
  • From Nazareth: An unremarkable, despised village.
  • Of Galilee: The unspiritual region, not the “Bible belt” of the area at that time.
  • Was baptized: Identified with sinful man.
  • In the Jordan: An unremarkable – often even unpleasant – river. “Early rabbinic tradition explicitly disqualifies the River Jordan for purification, [according to] The Mishnah, ParahVIII. 10.” (Lane)


The scene also puts the glory of Heaven on display.

The heavens parting: Heaven opened wide for this. The ancient Greek for this phrase is strong. It has the idea that sky was torn in two, “being rent asunder, a sudden event.” (Bruce) Think about this for a minute…God Himself parts the Heavens  to view the baptism of the Son. No doubt the entire Host was watching as well.

The Spirit descending: The Spirit of God was present, and in some way His presence was discernable. Like a doveLuke 3:22 puts it like this: And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him. In some way the Spirit was present and “flew down” on Jesus like a dove. Think back to Genesis 1: The Spriti of God was moving over the surface of the deep; the Hebrew actually says was brooding, like a mother bird gathering chicks under her wings.

We gloss over this frequently, but think about if for a second…God Himself manifests His presence at the baptism of the Son. The entire Godhead is present at the Baptism. Talk about a showstopper!

A voice came from heaven: It’s rare in the Bible when we read that God speaks audibly from heaven, but this is one of those glorious occasions. At the Transfiguration, God’s voice from heaven sounds like thunder but we have no such indication in this passage. It is possible that only Jesus knew what was being said but I rather doubt that. We can, logically, deduce that all present heard the voice and knew what was being said.

You are My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased:

I want you to think about a passage that we don’t usually associate with the baptism of Jesus but that is apropos nonetheless. Consider John 1:1-3. The connotation here is one of intimate fellowship. Consider also, John 1:18 where the Son was in the bosom of the Father. Intimate fellowship, face to face communication.

An error to correct:

Many use this passage to suggest that baptism is the symbol of the New Covenant. They are incorrect. The sign of the New Covenant is in John 14:17, the Indwelling Holy Spirit. See also 1 Corinthians 6:19-20


I will share a separate lesson on the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit at a later time.

CSB Life Connections Bible Review

CSB Life Connections Bible Review


additional photos-click here

The very popular Serendipity Bible for Personal and Small Group Study has made a comeback with the Christian Standard Bible in the Life Connections Study Bible. (Holman Bible Publishers sent me a copy free of charge in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to give a positive review, simply an honest one.)

I am admittedly new to the Serendipity Bible so we will begin with a little from the publisher:

The CSB Life Connections Study Bible is are a revised and updated version of the best-selling and renowned Serendipity Study Bible. The original Serendipity Study Bible was the culmination of 40 years of community building by Serendipity House Publishers, which revolutionized small groups and personal study through thousands of accessible questions and study helps throughout the Bible.

The CSB Life Connections Study Bible includes thousands of questions and study helps for all 1,189 chapters of the Bible – all updated for today’s readers. This Bible includes short chapter-by-chapter comments about key people, places, and events along with guidance for small group Bible study and personal reflection through the “Open-Consider-Apply” method:

  • Open” questions initiate discussion and/or reflection
  • Consider” questions focus on the details of the passage
  • Apply” questions encourage application to daily life
  • Also included are select “For Groups,” “For Worship,” and “Dig Deeper” questions for further study, reflection, discussion, and application.



The Life Connections Study Bible uses the Christian Standard Bible, a natural choice since Lifeway acquired Serendipity House Publishers. CSB is a mediating translation- it is literal when it needs to be but still very readable.  I am currently using the Christian Standard Bible for preaching and teaching.

Cover and Binding

I am reviewing the brown leathersoft edition. It is a very convincing imitation leather. Naturally, there is a paste down liner. Most CSB Bibles include a sewn binding and this one is no exception. The sewn binding provides two very nice features: it lays flat very easily and it also makes it fairly floppy and easy to use one handed.

Paper, Layout, and Font

The paper is very interesting; it has a different tactile feel than other CSB Bibles that I have felt. It has a little bit of a newsprint feel. The paper is nicely opaque and should provide no issue with annotating. As is most often the case, I recommend ball-point pen, colored pencil, or mechanical pencil.

The text of Scripture is laid out in a single column paragraph format. Verse numbers are fairly opaque which makes verse finding fairly easy, especially so if you are teaching in a small group. The notes are a little smallish and are laid out in four columns at the bottom of the page. They are separated from the text by a single bold line. A chapter summary is provided for each chapter of the Bible, set off in a green box. Bible study content is in the outer margin on each page.

The font is a black letter text. It is approximately 9.5-point font for the Bible text. Bible study content and commentary notes are about a 7-point font. Perhaps 8-point.


Study Questions

This study Bible includes ready-made discussion and study questions for every chapter of the Bible. Some chapters include more than one study and set of questions. There’s an opening question (or ice breaker), some Scripture-driven questions for consideration, and some application questions, all based on the chapter in which the questions are found. Where appropriate, there are also questions for worship, group activities, and digging deeper in Bible study. May of my colleagues are not fans of the “Discussion Model,” and I understand that but there are benefits to this model. The discussion and study questions are designed to help your small group study to think through the process of understanding the text.

Study Guides

There are 16 topical study courses, 60 life needs courses, and 200 Bible stories available for study. The beautiful feature about these additional studies is that they simply point to selected chapter studies in the Bible. Understanding sacred Scripture is the driving force behind every lesson and every study. While that may seem like an obvious statement you would be amazed at just exactly how much “Christian content” not actually geared toward a true understanding and internalization of the Scripture. Next to each lesson is the Scripture from where the lesson draws Truth and the page number where the questions for that chapter are found. A life needs study on sexuality points to specific chapters from which to draw the Texts and questions. Bonus: all the 60 life needs studies have beginner and advanced options and all of them depend on the Scripture with margin questions from the chapters.


Each book has a one page introduction covering Author, Date of Writing, Theme, and Historical Background of the Book. I would have liked to see a small outline of some kind.

Is anything missing?

An earlier edition from Serendipity House, the Interactive Study Bible, was in the same format but had Lectionary Readings. I would have liked to see Holman include lectionary readings for those denominations which follow them, such as our Anglican Brethren.

The earlier edition also included options for personal readings and group study readings. There was also a brief comment on the Modern Message of each book.  (How does the message apply to Christians today.)

Overall Impression

I am fairly impressed with the Life Connections Study Bible. There are a couple of features that I would have liked to see come forward into the new edition but all in all it looks to be as helpful as it is interesting. I will most likely write a use case study as I am able to put it through its paces in church.

Who should buy this Bible?

The Life Connections Bible is ideally suited to the small group leader or, perhaps, the Sunday School Teacher. Even if one does not utilize the “Discussion Model” for teaching, the discussion questions will be most helpful.