Reflections on the Baptism of Jesus

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By Jaime V. Cortez

The Good News

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


THE gospel readings in Matthew 3:13-17, Luke 3:21-22 and Mark 1:9-11 are all narrations of the same event -- the baptism of our Lord Jesus.

Matthew’s account seems to be most complete and it is as follows: “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, 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. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’

Some reflections are in order.

What were some of the significant events that happened in the life of Jesus after his birth, in fulfillment of the Law? First, in accordance with the requirement in Leviticus 12:3, the Baby was circumcised when he was 8 days old and was given the name Jesus (Luke 2:21). Second, in adherence to Jewish customs, Jesus, still as a baby, was presented in the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 2:22). When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their own town of Nazareth in Galilee.

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From there the Bible did not have much to say on Jesus’ life as a boy and a young man. We were told, however, that “the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him” (Luke 2:40). We were also told that at 12 years of age, he went to Jerusalem with his parents for the Passover, at which time he was left in the temple, sitting with the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions (Luke 2:41-50). Then when Jesus was about 30 years old, he appears on the scene for his public life and ministry, starting with his baptism. Thus, the context of the Sunday gospel.

Why did Jesus need to be baptized? Was baptism not a sign of repentance from sins as preached by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-11)? Then why would the sinless Son of God subject himself to baptism? This was answered by Jesus himself when John first refused to baptize him. He said, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus was thus baptized in obedience to the Father, giving us an example that we too, in obedience to him, must be baptized.

Jesus’ baptism was also an opportune time to reveal who he is. Going up out of the water, a voice was heard from heaven, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Jesus was not an ordinary man; he is the Son of God.

More than revealing his identity as God’s only Son, Jesus’ baptism also gave us a revelation of the Trinity. Jesus was on the Jordan River being baptized; the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and alighted on him, and the voice of the Father was heard, all happening at the same time. Truly, then, we believe in the mystery of 3 Persons in One GOD -- the Holy Trinity.

Lastly, Jesus’ baptism paved the way for his ministry. In baptism he was approved by the Father and anointed by the Holy Spirit. This empowered him to carry out his mission -- to save the world from sin, be the only Way to the Father, and offer the gift of a full life in this world and eternal life in heaven.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on January 09, 2014.

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