Reflection on Luke 3:15-17, 21-22: First Sunday after the Epiphany January 9, 2022

Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Let us Pray: Lord Father, Lord Jesus, Lord Holy Spirit, Fix my heart this day on your Kingdom, That I may never waver in my devotion to you.  This We pray in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Jordan River, where John was baptizing, was a symbol of new beginnings for the people of Israel. They had crossed the Jordan to start their new life in the Promised Land and here they were baptized as a symbol of the new life within. Because of John’s prophetic preaching and call for repentance (Luke 3:1-14), his public reputation had grown to the point that people were being filled with expectation and wondering if John might be the Messiah, the Anointed, the Christ, the one to fulfill the centuries old promise of God to King David that a descendant of David would reign over Israel forever. This was john’s response, , “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming. This was the inauguration of Jesus’ public ministry, and it provided an opportunity to understand to the nature of His status.  It began with the pronouncement, which is: Jesus is son, beloved, and one in whom God is well pleased. Thus, establishing Jesus as a servant figure.  “Beloved” is sometimes connected with bolstering the uniqueness of Jesus as God’s only son. This connection is made linking this critical moment in Jesus’ ministry and the pronouncement as God’s son and accomplishes what was hoped for. So why did Jesus have to get baptized?  Perhaps a solution to the original question might be this, Jesus in being baptized is modeling a first step in being truly human. Moreover, his baptism signaled that God was now taking steps through the ministry of Jesus to signal that the turning of the ages expected by John was beginning to take place. Why do you need to be baptized? Baptism is the sign of the covenant, which is that God promises salvation to all who believe. It does not convey faith, nor does it convey the benefits. However, the sign does convey, symbolically, the promise of God to all who believe. And since we’re called to become more and more like Christ, then our baptism must be about those same things. Baptism not only marks our movement away from sin, but it also marks our movement toward something as well. Some will argue that it marks our movement toward purity and holiness as we seek to allow the Holy Spirit to baptize us as well. As we stand at the beginning of a new year with new challenges and new goals, many will create a list of resolutions, goals which we would like to keep in the coming year. One more item to be added and it needs to be living into our baptism with a sense of our God-given mission. As we move into this new year, may we walk toward fulfilling our God given mission. May we do so knowing that the one who has called us, loves us, is pleased with us, and will help us on our way.

Let us Pray: Prayer for baptism of Christ

For John the Baptist preparing the way by repentance and baptism

we thank you For Jesus Christ proclaimed your Son by water and Spirit

we thank you For Good News that Salvation has come to the earth

we thank you For your love undeserved and graciously given

we thank you For the Holy Spirit transforming and empowering lives

we thank you for your promise of an eternity in which to praise you

we thank you. This we pray in your name Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen

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