The (Post-)Baptism & Temptation of Jesus | Mark 1:9-13 (Prologue Part II) Lesson [Slideshow+]

Mark Commentary

The Prologue (Part II)

Interestingly, Mark’s baptism account is only a mere 53 words in Greek.1 Moreover, the baptism is only mentioned in one verse (Mk 1:9); it’s more about what happened after the Baptism.

After setting the stage in the first part of the prologue, which shows how John the Baptist fulfills Old Testament prophecy, Mark doesn’t include anything about Jesus’ background, birth, baby shower, etc.2 (cf. Mk 3:31-35, 6:3).3

With no birth narrative, Mark focuses on Jesus’ connection with John the Baptist4 who was in the wilderness (Mk 1:3, 4, 12, 13), and on Jesus’ ministry as the fulfillment of prophecy.5

Three important experiences (Mk 1:9-11) signify the inauguration of the kingdom of God6 (cf. Mk 1:15).

  1. The heavens are torn open
  2. The Holy Spirit descends into Jesus,
  3. God’s heavenly voice speaks.7

These provide heavenly affirmation that Jesus is, in fact, the royal Messiah and the unique Son of God8 – and the prophesied Suffering Servant.9

Then, Jesus is driven out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (Mk 1:12-13) — setting the stage for the spiritual battle that runs throughout Mark.

Below, please find verse-by-verse commentary, the main points, and the slideshow. For sources cited, please see the bibliography on the Gospel of Mark Book Study Overview page.

Verse-by-Verse Commentary

Main Points

  • Jesus’ ministry is bracketed by:
    • Temptation – In the wilderness (Mk 1:13) vs. in the Garden of Gethsemane (cf. Mk 14:32-42 esp. Mk 14:38); by
    • Baptism – in the water (Mk 1:9-11) and on the cross (Mk 10:38; Mk 15:22-41; cf. Lk 12:50) and by the
    • Empowerment of God – after coming out of the water (Mk 1:10-11) vs. after coming out of the grave (Mk 16:6-7).10
  • The prologue prepares readers for both the tragedies and triumphs that follow.11
  • There are many scriptural allusions in Mark – even when Scripture is not cited explicitly. Also, Jesus will often appeal to Scripture (e.g., “Have you not read”? Mk 2:25, 12:26; cf. Mk 11:17).12 We often miss the less explicit allusions because of our “ignorance of the Scripture”.13
  • With God, greatness can come from what the world considers insignificant (cf. 1 Cor 1:27-29)14 Jesus — the Messiah, the Son of God (Mk 1:1) — came from insignificant Nazareth.
  • Jesus’ Baptism gives us a “Tableau of the Trinity” (cf. Mt 28:19).15
  • God may put us to the test (see Job) with trials (1 Pet 1:7; Jas 1:2-4) and we may be disciplined by our Heavenly Father (Heb 12:6-11) to help us mature in our faith.16 But He gives us the resources to persevere17 (cf. 1 Cor 10:13). We must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.18
  • Jesus endured temptation so that He can empathize with (Heb 4:15) and help us (Heb 2:18) in our temptations.
  • That being said, Christ’s temptations in the wilderness differ in degree from our own. Mark’s primary point is not necessarily to show us what to do when being tempted; it is to provide heavenly confirmation that Jesus is the Spirit-filled Messiah who will battle Satan and bring salvation.19
  • Rregardless, of what others may think about Jesus,  God has spoken.20 Jesus is the “Stronger One” John the Baptist spoke about.21 Jesus is confirmed as the royal Messiah, the Suffering Servant, and the unique Son of God.22
  • Again, Mark has shared the messianic mystery with readers, but the characters in the narrative will struggle with Christ’s identity.23
  • We have more knowledge than they do; will we have more faith?24


To download a .PDF version of this slideshow, please click –> The (Post-)Baptism & Temptation of Jesus | Mark 1:9-13 Lesson (Prologue Part II) Slideshow



  1. Edwards, 34
  2. Garland, 47; Guelich, 31; Stein, 54; Strauss, 71
  3. Brooks, 41
  4. Stein, 54
  5. Guelich, 31
  6. Edwards, 34 cf. France, 74
  7. cf. T. Levi 18:6-8; Edwards, 34; cf. France, 74
  8. Stein, 60; Strauss, 69
  9. Strauss, 69
  10. Witherington, 79
  11. Witherington, 79
  12. Witherington, 79
  13. “The problem is that we may miss these allusions because of our ignorance of the Scripture. Sometimes we may wonder how a first-century audience might have known the Old Testament so intimately that they were able to pick up on subtle hints, because we project our ignorance of Scripture on to them. Literary allusions are generally lost on modern audiences. Surveys have shown that many cannot name the first book of the Bible, list more than three of the Ten Commandments, or identify more than two of Jesus’ disciples. One must remember, however, that the Scripture was the only textbook for the education of a devout Jew and was studied intensely by Christians, including Gentiles. If one were to whistle only a bar of a theme song of a popular TV show in years of syndication, such as the Andy Griffith Show, a modern audience would catch it immediately. They would also probably appreciate any allusions to characters or incidents in the show. The explanation for these phenomena is the pervasive influence of the visual media in our culture. Why should it surprise us that the Scriptures, which so pervaded Jewish culture, should be as well known? It was read Sabbath after Sabbath (Acts 14:27). Life centered around it and was ordered by it.” Garland, 52.
  14. English, 41
  15. Witherington, 75 cf. English, 44; Cole, 108
  16. Strauss, 76
  17. Witherington, 81
  18. Strauss, 75
  19. Strauss, 76
  20. Kernaghan, 38; Schnabel, 44; France, 79
  21. Bock, 409; Guelich, 35
  22. Schnabel, 47
  23. Witherington, 79; English, 47; Garland, 55; Schnabel, 44; Brooks, 42
  24. Garland, 55
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