Reflection on The Gospel of Matthew 3:13-17: First Sunday after Epiphany January 8, 2023.

The Gospel of Matthew 3:13-17 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.”

Let us Pray:  Everlasting God, we give thanks for this new day and as we gather here this morning to focus on the Baptism of our Lord, let us remember our own Baptisms and our calling to be Christians. May we be filled with such joy as we believe in you that our hearts overflow with love for you and for all who we meet along our journey and help us to understand the mystery of the baptism of your Son. May we walk in your way, live our life for you and be mindful of your presence day by day. This we pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

On January 1, 2023, the members of Hope Church got to be participants in the sacred service of Baptism. The service of baptism is definitely a sacred service. You know that the presence of the Holy Spirit was with us as a young child was marked as Christ’s own forever. We can visualize the presence of the Holy Spirit as John baptized Jesus and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” We know God is pleased with the child we baptized today, the smile on her young face told it all. The record of John the Baptist and his baptism of Jesus occurs not only in Matthew, but in Mark and Luke. John overlaps as he describes the descent of the Spirit on Jesus, which took place when Jesus was baptized. But it does not directly describe the baptism itself. The main theme of this gospel is the presence Of the Spirit of God and God’s voice declaring Jesus as His son and saying he was well pleased with him. Jesus’ baptism also signified something else. It was the beginning of His public ministry as He was anointed by the Holy Spirit. In our text we see that the heavens were opened to Jesus, and He saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and coming upon Him. From John we know that John the Baptist also saw this vision and it was in fact the confirmation of what God had told John that the one he saw the spirit of God descending upon and remaining is the one that baptizes with the Holy Spirit. The vision was of the Holy Spirit’s anointing of Jesus for ministry. After His baptism Jesus officially started his three years public ministry. He spread the Good News of salvation, he cured the sick, He gave hope, He fed the hungry and comforted those in need.  But in the end He suffered and did the supreme sacrifice of giving His life for our salvation. This gospel also brings out the idea of what baptism symbolizes. John was preaching repentance. He was calling for people to have a radical change of heart and mind and move away from sin and to God. Baptism symbolizes the cleansing away of the sin. The people confessed their sins when they were being baptized. The baptism itself did not take away sins, but it symbolized the righteousness and cleansing given to the individual as they confessed their sins and placed their trust in God alone.

Let us Pray: We thank you 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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