The Baptism of our Lord | January 12, 2020
13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”
15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
16 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”
Matthew 3:13-17 New Living Translation (NLT)
This coming Sunday is known as the Baptism of our Lord. The gospel reading for this Sunday tells the story of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. As you may remember from our readings during Advent, John the Baptist came to prepare the way for Jesus. The baptism of Jesus, signifies the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry. For the next three years, Jesus’ ministry will be out in the public. We don’t have much record of Jesus previous thirty years of life, but the final three years are earth are well documented.
John the Baptist is a bit confused. He doesn’t understand why Jesus is coming to him for baptism. After all, Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is God in the flesh. There is no need to be baptized for the remission of sins, because Jesus is the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. John says, it needs to be the other way around – that Jesus should be baptizing him.
Jesus reminds John the Baptist that this is the way it needs to be because God requires it. Jesus is our example – Jesus is God in the flesh – Jesus came to identify with His creation. Baptism will be something the followers of Jesus will do to identify with Jesus. Even 2,000 years later, believers of Jesus are still baptized. As we go into the water, we bury our old self – signifying, Jesus’ death on the cross. We then rise out of the water, into Christ. Just as Jesus was risen on the third day to give us new life!
Jesus’ baptism is one of the first places in the New Testament that we see the Trinity together – the voice of God the Father, Jesus the Son being baptized, along with the Holy Spirit coming down like a dove. By being baptized, Jesus has been obedient to God the Father – and Jesus will continue to be obedient to God the Father. It is this call to obedience, that Jesus calls us. He was obedient to the Father to the point of death as we are reminded in Philippians 2.
As I mentioned earlier, Jesus’ baptism signifies the beginning of his earthly ministry. This season of Epiphany – or the Sundays after Epiphany emphasize the mission of Jesus. We hear how Jesus calls his disciples to build and grow the Kingdom of God. Many of Jesus’ parables are references to the Kingdom of God. 2,000 years later, Jesus still calls his disciples to grow and to build the Kingdom of God or Kingdom of heaven. We are not to build our own little kingdoms of fiefdoms, but the Kingdom of heaven. By our baptism, we identify that we are a disciple of Jesus and we desire to be obedient to God the Father.