We are now into the second week of 2020 and we look forward to this year with all its joys and challenges. We meditate on the theme, ‘At his Baptism Jesus is revealed as the Son of God.’ How does the Baptism of Jesus and his revelation as the Son of God affect us in our day to day lives?
Human beings with their own capacities cannot know God. This true God can only be understood by revelation. God in his infinite mercy has chosen to reveal himself in and through his Son Jesus. When we see Jesus, we understand who God is. At his Baptism Jesus is indeed revealed as the Son of God.
At the baptism of Jesus the heavens were torn opened. This is similar to the curtain in the temple being torn open when Jesus died again providing access to the Father. Jesus’ baptism also indicates the same. We have access to the Father.
Communication with him has been re-established through the coming of Jesus. We have direct access and there is no need of any more mediators.
When Jesus came out of the water a a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." This is a quote from Ps 2:7 and Isa 42:1. The voice indicates that Jesus is both the beloved Son and the beloved servant. Jesus is revealed to us as the Son of God by this divine voice.
But why did Jesus have to be baptized by John who was baptizing people for the repentance of sins? We can probably enumerate the following reasons:
It was a Public proclamation of what he had come to do – to fulfill the plan and purpose of God. It was the beginning of his public ministry and Jesus was probably about 30 yrs old, when he began his ministry (Luke 3:23). Adult baptism or Confirmation is a public proclamation in the midst of the congregation. Likewise, we see Jesus publicly proclaiming his divine purpose.
It was his identification with sinners. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling with us (John 1:14). Though he was without sin he identified with us sinful human beings. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might became the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). Jesus submission to John’s baptism of repentance was his mature self-dedication to his mission of self-identification with sinners which in due course would involve the cross (Mk 10:38).
It was also the Revelation that he was indeed the Son of God. Different opinions existed about Jesus. Some said he was a prophet, some that he was Elijah, others that he was a good man and still others who considered him a rabble rouser.
But God’s revelation was, ‘this is my Son whom I love, with him I am well pleased. The Holy Spirit descends on him in bodily form like a dove. In his baptism God the Father and God the Holy Spirit bear witness to the identity of Jesus as the Son of God. Immediately after he is baptized and is full of the Spirit he is taken out to the desert to be tempted by Satan (Mark 1:13).
The baptism also confirms that God is indeed pleased with his Son who has taken a human form. We see the three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit operative in the baptism of Christ. It was also a confirmation for John the Baptist that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.
Finally, it was to fulfill all God’s righteous requirements. One commentator says “To fulfill all righteousness” means to complete everything that forms part of a relationship of obedience to God. In so doing, Jesus identifies with and endorses John’s ministry as divinely ordained and his message as one to be heeded.
The baptism began the ministry of Jesus which was shown through his life his death and resurrection. Jesus came into this earth to be one of us, to identify with us, to bear our sins on the cross and to rise again for us.
In rising again Jesus has shown us that Satan sin and death have been defeated and he gives us the hope of eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. May we take courage that Christ knows all our struggles, our weaknesses, our sufferings, our anxieties as he himself has gone through the way of the cross and has identified with us as a human being.
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