Sunday, January 15, 2012

Baptism of Jesus

Matthew 3:13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, 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, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Today we celebrate the Lord’s baptism by John in the River Jordan. In presenting the baptism of Jesus, the Gospel of Matthew tells us that Jesus accepted Baptism from John only as a fulfillment of righteousness in line with the tradition of Judaism. It goes further to say that in this baptism; Jesus was declared as a Son by God and anointed with the Holy Spirit and power.

Every human person is born with original sin which makes life of grace impossible. According to the Jewish religious tradition, every Jew must go through some ritual actions in order to be right with God. When Jesus was born, he identified with some of these ritual performances, namely, Circumcision (Lk 2:21); Presentation to the Temple (Luke 2:22-23) and Baptism (Mt 3:13-17). Baptism at this time had different kinds of meaning. It might be administered for the purposes of cleansing or to be right with God or to show belief in God or as a sign of repentance or as a requirement for membership into Judaism, etc. Jesus may have received baptism to identify with Judaism so as to be accepted when he begins to minister to the Jews as one who professes the same Religion with them. It is true that John who baptized him, baptized people for repentance (Matt 3:11), but Jesus was like us in all things except sin (Phil 2:7; Heb 4:15; Rom 8:3). The bottom line is that Jesus does not need baptism for repentance but accepts it to fulfill all righteousness involved in becoming right with God according to the Jewish worship tradition (Matt 3:14-15). Today, to become right with God, to be born into the family of God, we receive Christian Baptism and the grace of son-ship.

In the Baptism of Jesus, God revealed that baptism is much more than water cleansing and or purifications. It is a birth place in which the recipient is born again into the family of God through the Holy Spirit. In this encounter, the glory of Jesus was revealed when the Holy Spirit came upon him and God declared “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”, showing the kind of baptism Jesus was to bring about, and which was prophesied by John the Baptist “But after me will come the one … who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Math 3:11). Is it any wonder why Jesus told Nicodemus that “unless one is born again with water and the Holy Spirit will not enter the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3-5)?

It is important to note here that while Jesus did not baptize any one during his earthly ministry (John 4:2), the Baptism he received is different from what he taught his disciples to do. He commissioned them in the new dispensation to baptize with the Spirit (Matt 28:19) which makes Jesus’ baptism different from the many dimensions of baptisms in existence in his time. This way the disciples administered the sacrament of baptism to all their converts before they join the faith and worship with them (Acts 2:38-39).

In his baptism, Jesus laid the foundation for a new dispensation of grace. From hence through the Sacrament of Baptism, the recipient establishes a union with the Holy Trinity. In this new birth (John 5:3-5), the believer receives remission from sin (Ps 51:5), receives the Spirit of membership which enables him or her become a child of God and a member of the Church (Rom 8:8-15), and a citizen of heaven (Phil 3:17-21). This way baptism becomes the gateway to the life of grace and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. In so doing, it defines the believer’s rights and responsibilities as a Christian, privileges and mission.

So, baptism units us with Christ, and in this union we find the strength to go about doing good after the manner of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, living as beloved sons and daughters by faith in the Son of God who lives in us (Gal 2:20; Col 2:20-3:4). It is the duty of the baptized then to make this life of grace a daily living by following in the footsteps of Jesus, the Christ

Peace and love,
Reverend Sue

St Valentine Faith Community
2670 Chandler Avenue
Suite 7 & 8
Las Vegas, NV 89120
Rev Sue Provost, Pastor

"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)