Today we focus on the Baptism of Jesus. It is such an important event, for various reasons:
• Jesus is identified as the Messiah, the One Who was expected, for centuries, and Whose advent would mean salvation. God expresses His love for His beloved Son, and His great pleasure in Him.
• Jesus is commissioned for His public ministry: He receives the Spirit, Who empowers Him to do God’s work. Immediately after this baptism, He goes into the desert, where He is tempted. The newly-received Spirit strengthens Him to resist temptation; after the forty days in the desert, He begins doing the work of God.
• It seems, to me, to be extremely significant that Jesus receives the same baptism as all the other Jews, who flock to the Jordan to be baptized by John. It is not that Jesus needs to repent, but it is the initial occasion of His publicly accepting the work given Him by God: He is declaring His readiness to be obedient. So it is, also, an expression of solidarity with the rest of humanity: He was not coming to be raised on a pedestal, to be worshipped as God; but, instead , to identify with us; to experience, fully, the human condition; and to begin a ministry of serving God’s people.
• The baptism of Jesus is seen as a baptism into suffering, which culminated on the Cross of Calvary. We are baptized into Christ, and we share in His death and resurrection.
As we remember the baptism of Jesus, let us hear, again, the voice of God, expressing His love and delight; let us welcome the Spirit, again: the One Who enables us to do God’s work, however humbly; let us re-commit to lives of service and sacrifice, acknowledging our connectedness with all humanity; and let us be ready to share in the suffering of Christ, so that we are able to experience the joy of resurrection.
With love, in Christ
Reverend Nigel Andrews