Summary: We must listen for our calling. We must be faithful and prepare ourselves to see the heavens open and hear God’s voice saying, “Well done, good and faithful servant”.
Little Johnny and his brother decided to go ice fishing one Sunday after church. Little Johnny started drilling a hole in the ice when a voice from above said, “Young man, there’s no fish down there.” Little Johnny asked his brother, “Who is that?” His little brother said, “I don’t know.”
Little Johnny started drilling again and the voice said again, “For the second time, there’s no fish down there.” Little Johnny asked his brother, “Could that be God?” His little brother replied, “I don’t know.”
Little Johnny started drilling again and the voice said once more, “Young man, for the last time, I’m telling you there’s no fish down there.” Little Johnny looked up and said, “Is that you, God?”
The voice said, “No, I’m the manager and the rink’s closed”
Today we read about Jesus’ baptism, which was the start of his ministry on earth. Since baptism represents the washing away of sins, and Jesus was sinless, why did he need to be baptized? It was because his baptism fulfilled God’s saving activity as foretold in the Old Testament and culminating in his death on the cross. In other words, Jesus came to bring salvation to everyone. Jesus was willing to set a good example by doing God’s will, and it was God’s will that everyone who believed in him be baptized.
John the Baptist’s baptism emphasized repentance, or turning away from our sins. Baptism represents the turning away from the old to the new, from our old ways of life to the kingdom of God. The baptism of Jesus (along with the descent of the Spirit, the proclamation of God and the witness of John) was a sign to both the people of his day and to us of something extraordinary. It was a sign that God wanted to become one with us and yet be different from us at the same time. Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and ascension gave baptism an entirely new meaning. Jesus’ baptism was a complete indication of his identification with the kingdom he was announcing.
Jesus’ baptism shows the glory of God’s plan and how all the details are important to God. Jesus heard the Holy Spirit call him to speak the truth and live with grace. Christ came to identify with sinners and give them his righteousness. His baptism was a part of that righteousness, and it was also a key part of Matthew’s plan to show his Jewish audience that Jesus is “God with us”. Jesus entered the same waters that his Jewish brothers and sisters entered, and by doing so they trusted that the God of Israel was still with them and could deliver them from the forces of evil. Jesus had to join with them to show them how far God would go to be a part of their lives so they could be a part of God’s life.
Jesus shows us the same thing. He shows us how far God would go to be a part of our lives so that we can be a part of God’s life. When he insisted that John should baptize him, Jesus wanted to melt into the crowd of the marginalized and rejects of society. By being with them, Jesus would raise them up, meet them in their despair, give them hope, be with them in their pain, comfort and cure them, accept them in their shame and bring forgiveness to them. Since Jesus also wants us to have right relationships with our Christian brothers and sisters, he went out and preached, healed and reached out to those who asked for forgiveness, who needed healing and who wanted to hear God’s Word.
Jesus was baptized so he could be one with us. Are we bold enough to be one with him? Can we, like Jesus, go into the dark lives of people to open their eyes and free them from sin? This can be hard to do if we are not washed of our cowardice, but when we are washed in the faith, Jesus will give us the strength we need.
Jesus’ baptism was for everyone, including the Gentiles. The reading from Acts 10:34-43 marks the acceptance of the Gentiles into the Christian community. The Gentiles did not have to show any prior observances. God is for everyone. He has no barriers to his love, and we must not put up any barriers to anyone who wants to come to God in faith.
John the Baptist did not want to baptize Jesus because John was faced with the real authority of the Son of God. John did not know what to do. John had to be faithful to his calling-preaching and baptizing in repentance-so that Jesus could be faithful in his calling. We also have to be faithful to the calling to which we have been called-preaching, singing in the choir, printing bulletins, cleaning the church or some other task. God’s way is through humble service to others, and Jesus is a good example. We have a choice-follow the wide gate to an earthly life that will lead to death and destruction, or follow the narrow gate to eternal life. By submitting to baptism, Jesus showed that God cares about us. Jesus came to a place where he did not belong so we could go to a place where we could not go otherwise.