Scripture: Matthew 3:13-17
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; 17 and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Meditation: Why did Jesus, the Sinless One, submit himself to John’s baptism? John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). In this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of his bloody death upon the cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God?
The Father proclaimed his entire delight in his Son and spoke audibly for all to hear. The Holy Spirit, too, was present as he anointed Jesus for his ministry which began that day as he rose from the waters of the Jordan river. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all who come to believe in him. At his baptism the heavens were opened and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, signifying the beginning of a new creation.
How can we enter into the mystery of Jesus’ humble self-abasement and baptism? Gregory of Nazianzus, a seventh century Church father tells us: “Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him.” Do you want to see changes in your life? And do you want to become a more effective instrument of the gospel? Examine Jesus’ humility and ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude in your heart. As you do, heaven will open for you as well. The Lord is ever ready to renew us in his Spirit and to anoint us for mission. We are called to be “light” and “salt” to those around us. The Lord wants his love and truth to shine through us that others may see the goodness and truth of God’s message of salvation. Ask the Lord to fill you with his Holy Spirit that you may radiate the joy of the gospel to those around you.
“Lord, fill me with your Holy Spirit and inflame my heart with the joy of the gospel. May I find joy in seeking to please you just as you found joy in seeking to please your Father”.
(c) 2002 Don Schwager