January 9: • Even if we can’t see the whole plan and understand it, we know that everything will work out because of the power of God.

January 9, 2022                                             Baptism of the Lord

Introduction

I thought I would show you a picture of the traditional place of the baptism of Jesus administered by John the Baptist.

  • It is located west of Jerusalem in the Judean Desert not too far from the city of Jericho.
  • It is not located in Israel but in Jordan.
  • Most of the area resembles the Red Desert in southern Wyoming.
  • However, as you can see there is greenery around the Jordan River.
  • Actually, it’s not very wide and rather muddy.
  • My first reaction was I would not want to go down into those waters.

Imagine the Baptism of Jesus

It is easy to imagine John the Baptist standing there in the Jordan River.

  • He is rather primitive and unkempt, clothed in camel skin wearing a leather belt around his waist.
  • He has a rather wild look with fire in his eyes.
  • He is shouting out, time and again, “repent the Day of the Lord is at hand.”
  • Numerous people are lined up preparing to enter into the water for baptism.
  •  Among those standing in the line is Jesus.
  •  Perhaps initially John does not recognize him until he comes forward.
  • Although Saint Luke doesn’t go into a lot of detail, several of the other Gospel writers give us a glimpse into what may have happened.
  • John and Jesus are cousins. Perhaps he has not seen Jesus for a while.
  • However, once he recognizes Jesus, John tells him, it is not I that should baptize you, but you should be baptizing me. “I am not worthy even to untie your sandal strap.”
  • There is no arguing. Jesus says it must be this way for now.
  • With those words John baptizes him.
  • As Jesus emerges from the Muddy Waters, we find that wonderful declaration of the Trinity.
  • The Holy Spirit descends in the form of a Dove and God‘s voice is heard like thunder above the waters, “this is my beloved Son listen to him.”

Christian Baptism

Why would Jesus undergo a baptism? John preached a baptism of repentance for sin.

  • Obviously as God, Jesus is sinless. So, why would he come forward to be baptized?
  • The answer is simple: Jesus is baptized in order to sanctify the waters of baptism and to sanctify the sacrament of baptism itself.
  •  Later, in the gospel of Saint Matthew Jesus will commission his disciples,” go baptize all nations, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Anointed by the Spirit

We have entered those waters of baptism and been anointed by the Holy Spirit.

  • When Jesus came out of the waters of the Jordan River he was anointed by the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.
  • When we came out of those waters of baptism we were anointed with the oil of chrism, the symbol of the Holy Spirit.

New life

Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans put it this way, “are you not aware that we who have been baptized into Christ have been baptized into his death so that we might rise with him to new life.”

  • In our baptism we died to sin and self so that we might rise to new life.
  • In our baptism we have become a new creation.
  • That old life of sin especially original sin is washed away in baptismal waters.
  • Remember those waters have been made holy by the presence of the Holy Spirit and of Jesus by his baptism at the Jordan River.

Family of God

Not only have we become a new creation, but we have joined God’s family.

  • At Jesus’ baptism the Father said “you are my beloved son.”
  • In our baptism we become beloved sons and daughters of God our Father.
  • In baptism we join a new family.
  • God is our Father and we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • This is a new bond of relationship that we begin in baptism.

Application

By our baptism we are called to make a difference in the world.

  • Because of our baptism we share in the mission of Jesus.
  •  Jesus came to proclaim the good news of God‘s kingdom. 

Kingdom of God 

God’s kingdom is God’s vision for the human family.

  • In other words, God has a plan for the human race and it is built not on power, wealth or popularity.
  • To the contrary, that kingdom is built upon love, forgiveness and justice.
  • We have been chosen by God to be the ones to bear that good news of his kingdom.
  • Yes, it is possible that the world can be different. It can be different because of us.
  • By our prayers and our actions, we witness to the presence of that kingdom and witness to the truth.
  • Truth is at the heart of God‘s kingdom. Remember Jesus said,” I am the way and the truth and the life.”

Esther

In the Old Testament book of Esther, a man named Mordecai challenges her to step out, take a risk and save her people.

  • This is what he told her, “and who knows whether you have not come into the world for such a time as this?”
  • Think of it this way: God chose for us to be born in this time and in this place.
  •  It’s in this time and place that he invites us to work to build his kingdom in the world. 
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Listening to Jesus 

Essentially, that means we need to spend time with Jesus and listen to his voice.

  • We need to listen to what he is telling us that we might be strong and faithful witnesses to the kingdom of God
  • It is not easy to be a Christian. God never called us to a life of comfort but to a life of greatness.
  • We just trust that God knows what he is doing and that he is in control.
  • Even if we can’t see the whole plan and understand it, we know that everything will work out because of the power of God.

Conclusion

Today when you leave the church and dip your hand in the holy water which is essentially baptismal water and make that sign of the cross remember your baptism and the greatness to which God is calling you.

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