Baptism and Temptation of Jesus

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
Dove 2

“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.’”

Matthew 3:13-17

I find the Baptism of Jesus confounding. Why does Jesus insist on being baptized by John when the clearly stated purpose for it is repentance? John the Baptist, the prophet whose singular mission in life was to prepare the way for the Messiah, was apparently also confounded. When approached by Jesus, he tried to dodge the request, countering that Jesus should baptize him instead.

People in Scripture who encounter great mysteries often ask memorable questions. John’s is my favorite: “Do you come to me?” I understand that question. Aren’t we all asking a version of that question? I thought John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus, the last prophet of the Old Testament, would be more prepared to recognize (and respond to) the Messiah. But even John isn’t prepared for a Messiah who humbles himself like this.

After John consents and baptizes Jesus, the Holy Trinity appears—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The heavens open, revealing new access to the presence of God. The Spirit-dove descends, alighting on the Son. A voice from heaven speaks, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” And John, the scruffy Baptiser, is drawn into the drama, playing a small but important part.

Jesus receives the affirmation and affection of his father at his baptism and then gives it away, ultimately giving himself away on the cross. Likewise, the favor of God that is spoken over Jesus is extended to us as we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The expectation is that in turn we will do the same. Give away the love we’ve been given. Give ourselves away.

There are countless ways of giving away the love of God. Nearly all of them will cost us dearly. But such is the confounding nature of love.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Where in your life are you being asked to say “yes” to Jesus? What difference would it make if God spoke the following words to you: “This is my beloved son/daughter, with whom I am well pleased?”

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, we thank you for coming to us in the person of your son, Jesus Christ. We humbly say “yes” to your invitation to us and ask for grace and courage to serve others as we have been served. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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