Lent – Day 6: Tuesday, 23 February
13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. 14 But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?’
15 Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then John consented.
16 As soon as Jesus was baptised, 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 alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’
John is now aware that the One to come and his cousin Jesus are one and the same. He’s naturally reluctant to baptise Jesus, but he does as Jesus asks.
For thirty-odd years Jesus had lived in Nazareth and had not done anything spectacular, apart from frightening his parents when they lost him in the Temple – and that was their fault for not checking where he was! And today, in front of crowds, he makes his public debut. At the completion of the baptism the heavenly endorsements come in. The Spirit of God descends on Jesus and Father God tells the crowd that the one arising from the water is his beloved Son.
The relationship that was expressed must have blown the minds of those who were steeped in their religion and its teachings. God is One. It’s a foundation statement. That’s what God said. And now he has a Son!
The Holy Spirit’s activity had been evident in the holy scriptures. It (hold your objection for a moment or two – “pneuma” in the Greek is neuter) came upon selected individuals and enabled them for the calling God had placed on them. Prophets, judges, various people (my favourite ones are those Saul encountered).
It is not until later that the Holy Spirit of God is more generally described as “he”. In the Old Testament we read of God’s Holy Spirit coming upon persons, but the enabling that they have through this anointing does not appear to develop into a relationship. The Holy Spirit came upon John from his birth, giving him boldness to speak the truth, wisdom to speak to the hearts of people, insight to know about his role. But he only baptised with water.
Who amongst our public/church figures could you compare with John?
What did Jesus have that made him different from humans like us?
Father God, help me understand better that relationship of love between you and your Son, a love that was enough for him to come to earth for us. Amen.