Baptism of Christ, Jacopo Robusti Tintoretto (c. 1585)
Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan,
to be baptized by him.
John would have prevented him, saying,
"I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"
But Jesus answered him,
"Let it be so now;
for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness."
Then he consented.
In a rush to get to the action of this scene, we often miss out on the details of the prelude. No mere filler, these verses immediately preceding the description of the baptism of Jesus are filled with wonderful details that can help us comprehend and more fully appreciate the will of God.
The first spoken words of Jesus in Matthew's gospel are included here.
But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. (NRSV)
Eugene Peterson, in his transliteration of this passage in The Message, puts it this way:
But Jesus insisted. “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.” So John did it. (The Message)These first words set an example for us. They demonstrate willingness. They model openness. Jesus is fully cooperating with the will of the Father, humbling himself publicly before John in the water of the Jordan.
Then John consented. So John did it.
John's protest was met with Jesus' pronouncement. And the result was righteousness.
In the face of God's persistent, lavish and extravagant grace for us, do we protest? Are we reluctant to cooperate with God's work? Are we willing co-laborers with God and habitations of the Holy Spirit?
This Sunday the Church celebrates the Baptism of Our Lord. Take some time before gathering for worship on Sunday to review and meditate on the readings we will hear together. And while you're at it, make some mental notes on what baptism has meant in your life. Is it just a date in your past, or does it shape and inform your daily walk into the future? When were you baptized? (What is your baptismal anniversary?)
The Baptism of Our Lord
First Sunday after the Epiphany
January 12, 2014
Prayer of the Day
O God our Father,
at the baptism of Jesus you proclaimed him your beloved Son
and anointed him with the Holy Spirit.
Make all who are baptized into Christ faithful
to their calling to be your daughters and sons,
and empower us all with your Spirit,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen
Acts 10: 34-43