Sunday, January 07, 2007
The Baptism of Jesus
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." —Matthew 3: 13-17
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opening and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." —Mark 1:9-11
After all the people were baptized, Jesus was baptized. As he was praying, the sky opened up and the Holy Spirit, like a dove descending, came down on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: "You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life." —Luke 3: 21-22
This is an odd year liturgically. Yesterday the wise men came, today Jesus is being baptized. It would make sense if his were an infant baptism, like many are today, but no... he was thirty some years old at the time. We've jumped as they used to say in Quantum Leap, that old TV show starring Scott Bakula.
All three evangelists agree that this baptism was not one of John's run-of-the-mill baptisms. Matthew says John didn't even want to baptize Jesus, but Jesus pressed him. Then it all broke loose. A dove, or something like a dove, and a voice... My son. Acknowledgement for the man born so long ago under mysterious and unusual circumstances. I am well pleased. Affection, appreciation, pride... in who this man is and who he will become.
To hear a voice from God can change you forever. Sometimes this voice speaks once, and you must run on empty for a long time with only that remembrance. Bad things happen to people that God speaks to clearly, mainly because God tells them to go against the grain, challenge the system, crawl out on a skinny little limb and wait for the chainsaw.
Yet down through the ages God has spoken... again and again... Some will say "Was that thunder I just heard?" And some will say "Here I am, send me."