The moment of baptism for Jesus is an important turning point in his life. It marks the start of his public ministry, but also tells us a lot more about Jesus than we may realise at first.
John’s baptism was about confession of sin and receiving forgiveness.
Since Jesus was without sin, he had no need of John’s baptism – which explains John’s shock when Jesus arrived at the river.
Jesus, however, chose to be baptised because he wanted us to know that he stands with us in our brokenness and sinfulness.
He did not keep himself separate from us because we failed to meet his standards of holiness.
Rather, he jumped right into the mess of our lives.
He began by becoming one of us, and then he began to create a new community by inviting us into a different way of thinking, speaking, and being.
This means that Jesus’ baptism was not just an event that happened to Jesus a long time ago.
Jesus’ baptism is an invitation that continues to beckon us today – to belong to a God-created, God-called community.
And, if we choose to accept the invitation, we discover that we, like Jesus, become those who are called to stand alongside the broken and hurting, the sinful and wayward people of our world.
And we are called to invite them, through our acts and words of grace, love, justice and challenge, to become part of God’s new community.
REFLECT: How many times have you heard people say that they don’t believe in God because of all the suffering in our world?
The argument is that all the pain and evil prove that, either there can be no God, or if there is a God, then God has abandoned us, which means that worship is useless.
The problem with this thinking is that it views God in a very unhelpful way—as a divine superman who is wholly apart from us and who should (according to us) come swooping in to save the day whenever something goes wrong.
It is also a very unhelpful view of human beings, since it sees us as essentially helpless and unable to participate in the healing of our world’s suffering.
As much as we ask God why God allows all the pain in our world, God could ask us the same question! The story of Jesus’ baptism reveals a very different picture of God and of us.
This short passage is packed with insights into the uniqueness and fascination of Jesus
To untie someone’s sandal was a slave’s task, but John feels unworthy even to do that for Jesus, because he is so important.
Next the Father reveals the identity of this seemingly ordinary man Jesus from Nazareth by declaring him to be his beloved Son in whom he is well pleased.
Next the Spirit descends on him like a dove.
Lastly the heavens are rent open to indicate that Jesus belongs in the divine realm.
Certainly Mark does his best to help us as disciples to keep in mind the divine reality of Jesus: we will need this help as the story moves on.
How does this all speak to the relationship with God and us:
First, God shows us what we need to do and become in order to experience full, abundant, and meaningful life, and gives us a choice to listen or not.
Then, secondly, God comes and lives among us—within us—and shares our grief, our tears, our pain, our sin, while constantly calling us back to life.
So, not only does God journey with us through our suffering.
God also gives us the divine power and presence to navigate and heal our own brokenness.
This is what Jesus’ baptism means for us!
Where do you need God to stand with you today?
How can you be more open to God’s healing presence & power through this week?
I ask Jesus in my prayer to keep on revealing himself to me–I have so much to learn about him.
In the words of the medieval prayer, I ask ‘to see him more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly’.
Our meditations will help us to hear and respond to God’s invitation this week.