In recounting the baptism of Jesus by John, Mark underlines Jesus ‘ vision and the heavenly voice. The tearing open of the heavens recalls Isaiah 63:19 where the prophet begs God to rend the heavens and come down. The second element in Jesus’ vision is the descent of the dove-like spirit.
The role of the spirit in Jesus’ ministry is paramount for Mark since it will enable him to carry out his mission.
The heavenly voice establishes a unique form of communication between God and Jesus. Mark thereby identifies Jesus as both God’s Son and his beloved servant (see Isaiah 42:1 – 2).
For Mark’s audience this scene is good news indeed since it reveals that God has not forgotten them. Rather through Jesus he has established a special form of communication. The result is that heaven and earth are now in contact. As Son, Jesus enjoys a special bond with God, a bond that he will manifest in his moments of prayer. As beloved son, Jesus is also the suffering servant who will achieve his mission by coping with pain on behalf of his people. As no stranger to suffering, Jesus easily appeals to Mark’s audience. He will, however, ultimately triumph but only at the cost of his life. As God’s servant, Jesus can empathize with the experience of Mark’s audience. The shadow of the cross is painfully present.