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The Baptism of our Lord

The Baptism of our Lord

jesus baptism

jesus baptism

For John the Baptist, it was all about Jesus. Even though he had gathered such a huge following, to the extent that everyone was wondering whether he was the Christ, he was quick to point out how vastly superior the one who was coming is to him.

To emphasize Jesus’ surpassing greatness, John makes three points:  first, Jesus has a higher position than John and is therefore more powerful. So much so that John sees himself as not being worthy even to offer the most menial of a slave’s tasks, the removal of their master’s sandals. The modern equivalent would be a CEO of a major corporation saying they are not worthy to take out Jesus’ garbage!

Secondly, Jesus is greater because he offers a better baptism. John’s baptism with water was a preparatory baptism, whereas Jesus’ will baptize with the Spirit, bringing, blessing, purification, enablement and the divine presence.

Thirdly, Jesus’ superiority makes the ultimate difference as he is the divinely appointed judge over all humanity. What John is saying is that how people respond to Jesus has eternal consequences.

With all this being said about the one who was to come, I’m sure the people would have been quaking in their sandals, but astonishingly, when Jesus does appear on the scene, he does not arrive with great pomp and ceremony, but, as Luke points out, is baptised along with everybody else. Jesus came to identify with humanity completely, even in a baptism of repentance, of which he had no personal need.

The long held messianic expectation of a warrior king, who would destroy the power of Rome by brute force, was replaced and redefined by Jesus’ coming as a servant king; a king who would die for his subjects, not his subjects for him. Indeed, Jesus came to establish the upside-down Kingdom of God.

So as we gather together today to celebrate the Baptism of our Lord, may we remember that through John’s baptism of repentance, Jesus identified himself entirely with us and that through our baptism, we identify ourselves entirely with him. May we live out of our baptism each day as disciples of Christ, that is; as on-fire-for-God, Jesus followers.

Hear the message

Luke 3:15-22

15 As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,*16John answered all of them by saying, ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with* the Holy Spirit and fire.17His winnowing-fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing-floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.’

18 So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.19But Herod the ruler,* who had been rebuked by him because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil things that Herod had done,20added to them all by shutting up John in prison.

The Baptism of Jesus

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,22and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved;* with you I am well pleased.’*