“The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
This Sunday, January 9th, the church worldwide celebrates the Baptism of the Lord. But why did Jesus submit to be baptized by John? John the Baptist’s ministry offered people “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mk. 1:4). Was Jesus a sinner? Did he need to repent? No—Jesus’ mission on was to call each of us to repent and believe the good news of God’s coming kingdom on earth which he himself was bringing (Mk. 1:15).
In all four Gospels, we are told that the heavens were opened at the moment of Jesus’ baptism; that the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove; and that a Voice was heard saying, “You are my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mk. 1:11). Jesus’ messianic identity was revealed. But in Matthew’s Gospel, we are given the answer to why Jesus was baptized. It was not because he needed spiritual cleansing. Yes, Jesus was like us in every way—except for sin. He was—and is—sinless. No, he was baptized for our sake. Our sake alone. He said to John, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:15). That means your righteousness. And my righteousness. And the restoration of the world’s righteousness, in which we all were created.
Because Jesus joined himself body and soul to us through the waters of our baptism, there is nowhere we can go and nothing we can do to separate or undo the power of his grace at work in our lives. He has claimed us as his own, and all our denials and other acts of faithlessness can never, ever change the reality of his presence with us–or the limit of his steadfast, redeeming love. Not now—and not ever. That is why he was baptized.
And that is the promise of your own.
It started as one drop
And welled into a flood.
His gift made your heart clean.
He made you his own.
Now you are his vessel,
To pass the gift on.
Go double the harvest,
Go spread his love out,
Go bless other people,
Go water the drought.
-Cathy Varvaris, Ripples of Love
Come to the water this Sunday and renew your baptism.
In Christ’s love,