Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Our daughter-in-law gave birth to our fourth grandchild three months ago. For nine months, we watched and lived with her as her body changed and grew, and we all wondered what this child would be like. The couple refused to reveal a name. Her belly was a great mystery developing, a package of love to be delivered into our family. When Gabriel Bruce did arrive, we were all overjoyed to meet this child. Even now, at three months, we have seen his personality begin to reveal itself.
Baptism is a great revealing. We speak of it as a birth and a bath, a bath washing away sin, and a birth into a new life. A question we have all asked is, “Why is Jesus’ baptism a pattern for our own when Jesus never sinned?” Perhaps the “bath “part of baptism isn’t seen in Jesus’ baptism, but the birth certainly is. Following baptism, Jesus begins public ministry. In baptism, Jesus is revealed as the Christ, the anointed one sent into the world, the son of God. In our baptisms, we are recognized as children of God. It is not so much that we make children of God, that’s God’s work. We recognize, catch up with the divine in the waters of baptism.
Jesus’ public ministry began after baptism. How many of us also need to move into public ministry in ways that perhaps we have not thought of?
The Rev. Paul Moore
Priest at St. Paul’s (email)