The preaching of John the Baptist (Mk 1:7-1:7)

“John proclaimed.

‘The one who is

More powerful

Than I,

Is coming after me.

I am not worthy

To stoop down

And untie

The tong

Of his sandals.’”

 

καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν λέγων Ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω μου, οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς κύψας λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ.

 

Mark and Matthew, chapter 3:11, are similar in their exposition of the preaching of John the Baptist.  However, there was no mention of a baptism of repentance here as in Matthew.  Also, Matthew had John unfit to carry the sandal rather than untie the sandal.  Luke, chapter 3:16-17, had John the Baptist not preaching, but responding to questions about whether he was the Messiah.  Luke, as well as John, chapter 1:27, also had John speak about being unfit to untie the tong or strap of his sandals.  John the Baptist was anticipating a messianic figure greater than himself.  He was the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, so that sometimes he was also identified with the prophet Elijah.  Mark said that John proclaimed (καὶ ἐκήρυσσεν λέγων) with a messianic tone that one more powerful than him was coming after him (Ἔρχεται ὁ ἰσχυρότερός μου ὀπίσω μου).  He was not worthy or fit to stoop down (οὗ οὐκ εἰμὶ ἱκανὸς κύψας) and untie the tong or the strap of his sandals (λῦσαι τὸν ἱμάντα τῶν ὑποδημάτων αὐτοῦ).  John saw himself as subservient to the Messiah to come.

John the Baptizer (Mk 1:4-1:4)

“John the Baptizer

Appeared

In the wilderness.

He was proclaiming

A baptism

Of repentance

For the forgiveness of sins.”

 

ἐγένετο Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν

 

There is something similar, but not quite the same in all 4 gospel stories.  Matthew, chapter 3:1-2, called John the Baptist (βαπτιστὴς) not the Baptizer (ὁ βαπτίζων), but John was in the wilderness, like here, calling for repentance.  In Matthew, John also warned the people that the kingdom of heaven was near.  Luke, chapter 3:2:3, is actually closer to Mark, since he used the exact same words about John in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  John, chapter l:19-29, had a long dialogue with John and the priests and Levites about what he was doing.  Mark has this simple statement that John the Baptizer, or the one baptizing, appeared (ἐγένετο Ἰωάνης ὁ βαπτίζων) in the wilderness or desert (ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ).  How and what he did before or after did not matter.  He was there proclaiming or preaching a baptism of repentance, a life change, or metanoia (κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας) to have sins or faults forgiven or wiped away (ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν).  John tied this repentant change of life style baptism with the forgiving of sins or wiping away of past faults, since he was calling for repentance.  John and Jesus are linked in some ways like Aaron and Moses or the later Peter and Paul.  One is superior to the other but the other plays an indispensable role.