I think we can all remember our catechism teachers explaining to us the baptism of Jesus. As we got older and knew a little more about Jesus, we start to ask some important questions. If Jesus is divine, why did He need to have baptism? Or if Jesus never committed a sin, why did He need baptism? As I recall the common answer given was that He was setting an example for us to follow. I am a lot older now and wonder is there not more to it than just setting an example?
In Isaiah we see in the prophecy a very different image of the messiah. A person who does not rule by violence or power but one who rules with love and empathy. Jesus did not come into the world to rule the world by force although He could. He came into the world to teach us how to serve one another.
John proclaims Jesus as the lamb of God. All Jewish people would have understood that implied Jesus would be sacrificed. We know today the lamb is to be sacrificed. John recognizes he is in the presence of someone far greater than he. When Jesus walks into the Jordan waters it is a new beginning.
The Jordan is symbolic for a new beginning in many ways. When the Hebrew people had wandered for forty days to enter the promised land, they needed to cross the Jordan. When Elijah was taken in the fiery chariot, Elisha had to cross the Jordan river. Jesus entering the river we must remember was the Word that created the river. Jesus’ entering the river purifies all water so that it may be used in the sacrament of baptism.
Baptism is our new beginning. A beginning in the life of God where we become sons and daughters of God. Our beginning is now that we are ‘in’ God. We are the Body of Christ. In the waters of baptism, we die and rise again in Christ, a new beginning.
At the start of this new year, what new beginning will you follow to grow closer to Jesus.
May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father and if the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen