Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted Him.”
Today marks the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, where Christ began his Public Ministry. Even though he knew he was God and Man, Jesus still went with the formalities, because he was also human.
” Then he permitted Him. 16After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
This verse is always special to me – At a point of my life where I had slipped into Gnostic thought (some would argue that I still do.. my more traditional friends), I decided to attend mass at St Louis Cathedral Basilica. As I was walking up to communion, to recieve our Lord, I looked up to the left panel and saw this
I about fell to my knees – THIS is who God is pleased in. THIS Is who we should listen to – Not alternative thought and certainly not to so called lost far away churches. I knew at that point I was being spoken to quite sternly as a Father does to a son. I was in error. I was wrong. Jesus is found only in the church. Not in some past, forbidden, forgotten group.. and not in the lies and deceit of new age thought. This was my “Coming to Jesus” moment, literally in my life.
Do I get it right? No. Right now I probably struggle more then most. I struggle more because I know more, and I know I should be better, but I also think I am being taught still. Taught how to fail, so I can learn how to trust again. I took my relationship with Him for granted. He will not forsake us, but sometimes he will let us learn.
Baptism is a spiritual chance to start over, to start a new life. It perpetually sets us aside, makes us “Bought and paid for”, as we die to this life, and begin a new one in Him. It was fitting that Jesus himself even took what John was doing and transformed it into not only a new step in his own life, but one for all of us. For even John said
11“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3-11
He is mightier then me, so I should decrease so he can increase in my own life. Thats what today is about, realizing that Jesus’s ministry Begins,…and it doesn’t end.
Ive always liked the old Spiritual “Wade in the Water”.. It was written during the freeing of the slaves and slightly before, in order to direct them north. For instance “Wade in the Water” would direct them to stay low in the rivers and streams as their captors were after them. The water was a refuge, a protection, that delivered them to freedom. Just like Baptism. Baptism envelopes us, and surrounds us, and with it, we too can reach freedom.