Then 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. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him 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, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)
Jesus was baptized by John. Now if John had been in control, he would have prevented Jesus from coming down to the water. Maybe John didn’t want to act is if Jesus needed to repent, in the same manner as all the sinners John had been baptizing up to that point. But Jesus insisted that he also be baptized. Seeing what came next, I’m glad he did.
Just as soon as the waters of baptism had touched him, the heavens were opened, and ultimately a voice from above said “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” I wonder if this sign was mainly intended for the bystanders at the baptism. Jesus already knew that he was loved by God (that’s part of what brought him to the baptismal waters), and yet as those around saw and heard what occurred, they too were brought in on that good news.
In some little way, that may be one of the things that happens at the time of our baptism. As the water is placed upon us, and either we affirm our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, or a parent pledges to bring us up knowing that truth, something is being claimed about God’s love for us, and everyone present gets to hear that good news. “This child of the covenant is one of God’s own children, with whom God is pleased.”
Friends, those who have been marked by the waters of baptism, I hope we wear God’s seal of approval gladly, as children of the covenant.
God, as I think about my own baptism, help me to celebrate your great love for me and all of your children. Amen