Summary: Jesus' baptism was more than a mere example that we should follow. It was a start of his ministry; his new life. Our baptism reflects Jesus'. We too are identified as God's own, filled with the Holy Spirit, and die to live a new life of mission and minist
Mark 1:4-11 “A Baptism of New Life”
We are one week into the new year. Many of us may pooh pooh New Year’s resolutions, and mutter under our breath that it is just another day—one of three hundred and sixty-five. Still, there is a newness about this time. Last year is behind us. We look forward to the coming year, because it holds hope and promise.
We like new things. There is no sweeter smell on earth than the aroma of a new car. You can slip in to a new car, inhale deeply, and almost get high. Some of us are still transfixed by the new gadgets we received as gifts at Christmas. When you slip on a new blouse and skirt, or shirt and pants—I don’t know—you feel sharper. You look in the mirror and you swear that you look better in your new clothes than that frumpy outfit you received for a birthday present a year ago.
Our text today is about newness. Jesus is baptized, and he begins a new chapter in his life. There is a new dynamic to his ministry, new adventures and opportunities, and also new obstacles and opposition.
Christians have a tendency to clean up Jesus’ humanity. We agree that God became human and took on our identity in the person of Jesus. It is difficult to imagine Jesus struggling with the same issues with which we struggle every day. We envision Jesus leading a somewhat charmed life. Not only did Jesus not sin, he wasn’t even tempted. He received strait “A’s” and was valedictorian of his class. He was never disappointed or discouraged, and he was never tempted to be envious or jealous.
I don’t think Jesus had is as easy as we think he did. He was born into a family of meager means. He was born out of wedlock—a curse he bore throughout his life. Certainly, Mary told him about the visit by the angel, the shepherds and the magi, but that doesn’t help much when you are taunted by your playmates and shunned be adults.
The fact that God spoke to Jesus at the time of his baptism and identified him as the Son of God transformed Jesus. From the time of his baptism onward, Jesus defined himself as God’s chosen one; God’s anointed. Life was fresh and took on a new meaning.
In many ways our lives are similar to Jesus’. We look at ourselves in the mirror and we don’t like all that we see. We tell ourselves that we are average, or worse—failures. The positive aspects of our lives are often overcome by the negative.
We, however, have been baptized, and at our baptism we have taken on a new nature. We are no longer average, or failures. Rather, we are sons and daughters of God. Like Jesus, God has claimed us as his own, filled us with his Holy Spirit (his presence) and proclaimed that he is well pleased with us. All things became new at our baptism.
A NEW MISSION
We don’t read much about Jesus before his baptism. We assume that those days were not notable. They certainly were of no consequence to the gospel writers and the early church.
It is at his baptism that Jesus begins his mission. The Spirit descends upon him and empowers him for ministry. From this point on, Jesus is focused on proclaiming that the kingdom has come near and demonstrating that in his healing of the sick, exorcising demons, and providing for the needs of the people.
There are times in our lives when we wonder what we are all about. These are often times of transition. New graduates wonder what their next steps are to be. When we retire, we ask ourselves, “What’s next, what are we to do, now?” Job loss causes us to question our purpose in life. Sickness shatters our lives and causes us to wonder what life is all about.
Like Jesus, though, we have been given a mission, at our baptism. We are the body of Christ; his eyes and ears, hands and feet. We are the people who are called to “make disciples of all nations.” We have been given the privileged task of sharing God’s love and grace. Whatever our situations in life are, this calling remains constant. This is our core mission, and everything else in our lives—our job, family, leisure time, etc.—becomes an expression of our mission.
By giving us a mission our baptism brings newness in to our lives.
Immediately after his baptism, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. In the wilderness he was threatened by wild beasts and tempted by Satan. Jesus was also ministered to by angels.
Our baptism opens up new challenges for us. We have new obstacles to overcome, but we have the promise that God will be with us in the person of the Holy Spirit. God will never leave us or forsake us. Our new challenges provide us with new ways to experience God’s presence in our lives.