The Baptism of the Lord
January 9, 2023
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, Jesus makes a remarkable debut!
Picture the scene. It is a beautiful morning in the Judean Valley where the Jordan Riven runs fresh and sparkling. Most scholars place the Baptism of Jesus sometime in January, which means the weather would have been relatively cool. But perhaps, like our own weather, an unusually warm day may have snuck in.
Rustic, fiery preacher John is baptizing in the Jordan River. Crowds have come to hear what he has to say. Some are convinced and dive into the cool water under his hand.
Others rim the hillside, not so sure John isn’t one of the many who have glorious visions but few facts.
Then, out from the pines on the far side of the river, comes Jesus, flanked by some of the Twelve. While his companions chat away to Jesus, his eyes are focused on John. In an instant, Jesus realizes that this is the moment for his revelation. In that same instant, all Creation realizes the same thing.
As Jesus walks slowly toward John, the birds and little animals speak to him, “My Lord and my God…”. Wind whistling through the trees becomes an Oratorio praising him. All the surrounding colors deepen, breaking forth in unimaginable light.
John is stunned by the cosmic change he senses but cannot describe. Heart trembling, he looks into Jesus’s eyes and catches a glimpse of heaven. “I need to be baptized by you”, John says,”and yet you are coming to me?”
Jesus smiles at his cousin, replying,
“Let it be so now;
it is proper for us to do this
to fulfill all righteousness.”
Then John consented.
Perhaps those in the crowd, schooled in the ancient scriptures, heard Isaiah’s voice in the charged atmosphere:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.
Matthew tells us:
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water.
Can you see him light-heartedly splashing John as he shakes his dark curls free of the chilly water? Can you see his transfigured face as he hears his Father speak Love over him?
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.”
What a beautiful moment in time! Don’t we wish we might have been there in the blessed and awe-struck crowd? We can. Let your prayer of imagination take you there. What happens in your heart when the newly baptized Jesus catches your eyes?
Music: The Baptism of Jesus