Matthew 3:1-13-17, Mark 1:4-11, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Recently I was driving around Winter Haven and a church sign caught my attention. It read: “Come as you are; you can change inside.” That reminded me of the business dress code: “No shoes, no shirt, no service!” And, of course there are even stricter dress codes at some establishments.
John the Baptist is still out in the wilderness outside Jerusalem and he is still preaching, and he is still baptizing. John says,
“I baptize you on the outside with plain old water from the Jordan River, but this is nothing compared to what and who is coming!” John would exclaim. “The one who is coming will baptize you with God’s own spirit! With God’s Spirit, you will be changed from the inside out!”
While John was saying this, Jesus appeared. He asked John to baptize him. But John wasn’t so sure.
“What? Me baptize YOU? I think it should be the other way around!” John said. But Jesus insisted. “Do it, John! God does amazing things in baptism!”
We can readily understand John’s reluctance, yet Jesus recognized the need to submit to John’s baptism in order to identify with the people. And, as the story continues something amazing did indeed happen as after Jesus was baptized by John, Jesus saw the skies open up. Jesus saw God’s Spirit like a dove descend and land on Him. Then a voice was heard saying, “This is my Son! He has been chosen and marked by my love. He is the great joy of my life.”
While we may see no dove and hear no voice, we do firmly believe that something amazing happens in baptism. We identify with our Lord Jesus Christ who was baptized. We also join that great company of the Church and are welcomed and embraced into a particular fellowship of believers. Together we seize opportunities for worship, for mission and service for fellowship, and to share the joys and sorrows of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes, God does amazing things in baptism!
Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gift of baptism. We thank You for the symbolism of being washed of our sins and of becoming part of the body of Christ. Thank You for the amazing things You have done in our lives … beginning with our baptism. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.