Friday, January 6, 2017
What do we make of the baptism of Jesus?
Through Matthew we gain an appreciation that Jesus is the Messiah, the fulfillment of the promise. We see that Jesus will participate in God’s mission in the world. Through his baptism, Jesus is equipped to go forward clear about to whom he belongs and the work he is to do.
Last year about this time I was visiting the Holy Land. One day on our way to Galilee, we stopped along the Jordan River. The river at this location was fairly narrow, meandering through tall grassy banks. As I stood just feet from the water’s edge, I tried to imagine the drama of the day long ago when Jesus was baptized. I thought about the Spirit descending like a dove and the voice from heaven breaking forth upon the waters. Being there brought the event closer at hand.
I was not alone. There were many who came by buses to this point along the river. They eventually waded into the shallow waters as a way to mark the festival of the Baptism of our Lord. In their remembrances and by their actions they were renewing their own baptismal promises. For them this was one way to embrace baptism as an ongoing and present gift!
The psalmist acknowledged how the voice of the Lord is upon the waters and that it is a voice of splendor. In this light we can understand how the baptism of Jesus was God’s on-going, creative work in the world. As the baptism of Jesus revealed who Jesus was and showed his commitment to God’s redeeming ways, so we can hear that summoning voice that calls us into the unfolding work of God still today.
In that work we are renewed in our identity as God’s beloved sons and daughters.
I’m going on a journey, and I’m starting today.
My head is wet, and I’m on my way.
Christ’s mark is on me; it’s on you too;
It says he loves me, and he loves you too.