Faith— 01/13/2022

“The Baptism of Jesus the Christ”

By Pastor Jerry Donovan

Luke writes in verse 3:2. “during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness.” At this point in history, after many years of silence, the prophetic word was again being heard as spoken by the Jewish Prophet John the Baptist.

The heart of John’s message was the call to a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. This baptism symbolized both initiation and cleansing. It was used as a rite of initiation for gentile converts to Judaism, and the Jews practiced frequent ritual washings to cleanse themselves from defilement.

You’d think that if Luke had a clue about the centuries of struggle the church has had about the details of baptism, he might have spent a little more time with it. Luke doesn’t seem to think so. Lk. 3:21“. . . Jesus had also been baptized . . .” That’s the sum total of the description here. If Luke is saying that the methodology isn’t what is important, then what is? Why is Jesus even there in the first place? That’s the question that has puzzled biblical scholars since the beginnings of the church. John was preaching a baptism of repentance. But we know that Jesus was without sin. So, why would he need to be there? What’s going on here?

I believe Jesus went to John to be baptized because he was entering into this messy world that we live in as he begins his 3-year mission of salvation. All of us are born into a world not of our making, a world we can barely understand at the best of times, a world we can’t explain at the worst of times, a world that needs repentance as much as all of us do.

Jesus strolled into the river to be buried up to his neck in the sin of the world, and then to rise to the Holy Spirit. He didn’t approve of the brokenness of this world, but he embraced it; he made it his, and he carried it with him, like a chip on his shoulder, like a pack on his back; he carried it all the way to the cross.

And what did he say, when he embraced all that is wrong in this life, all that is less than divine, less than holy? He didn’t say a thing. Like us, he was silent. So that he would know what we experience when we have no words to say in the face of death or worse.

However, there were words spoken at that moment. Words that echo in the silence of our moments even to this day. They weren’t his words or ours or any human words. They were God’s words, and they said simply, “I love you.” They were words of affirmation, not for deeds done or not done, but for being; just for being. In the frenzy of living and of dying, we hear and by grace speak these words; they are all we have: “I love you.”

Charles Wesley wrote this brief prayer, “O that it now from heaven might fall, and all my sins consume!

Come, Holy Ghost, for Thee I call, Spirit of burning, come!

Refining fire, go through my heart, illuminate my soul, Scatter Thy life through every part, and sanctify the whole.” AMEN


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here