3 minutes reading time (593 words)

Jesus and his Baptism

Welcome to the weekly blog! First post - Tuesday January 8th 2019

Happy New Year! Despite being well aware of the futility of New Year's Resolutions, I've decided to post once a week from now on.

So, as well as the existing little library of sermons and shorter pieces from both me and Linda - which I'll update from time to time - this section will contain up-to-date thoughts on ... whatever comes into my head on a Tuesday each week.

Not quite sure when I'll take each blog down - maybe leave for a few weeks? We'll see... One thing's for sure - there's nothing more boring and dispiriting than a website that never changes. So, as well as these short pieces in the Blog section, I'll be taking care to update the News section with ... news!

Here goes (throat-clearing noise):

I've been thinking a bit about Baptism - partly because the All-Age service at Woolacombe next Sunday has the theme "Baptism - what is it for?" And the theme for this Sunday in the Lectionary is "The Baptism of Christ". So I had a little look at how each of the Gospel writers tells the story of Jesus being baptized, each rather differently from the others.

Matthew (3:13-17) has an exchange between the cousins in which John says what all of us are thinking - how can Jesus need to be baptized for the forgiveness of his sins? Surely Jesus should baptise John, not the other way round? Jesus replies with something a bit fuzzy about this being the way "to fulfil all righteousness".

Mark (1:9-11) deals with it briskly (as is his way). But, like the others, he includes the Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove, and the voice from heaven giving him the seal of God's approval: "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

Luke (3:21-22) almost hides the Baptism after a lengthy exchange between John the Baptist and the crowds. And John (1:29-34) refers to the Baptism rather than showing it, through the words of John the Baptist when he sees Jesus coming towards him: "Behold, the Lamb of God..."

There are two things that interest me from these accounts, and they're both about the way in which Jesus' Baptism integrates him with us, joins him to all humanity:

- From Luke: "Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized..." (3:21) In a way, these two phrases answer John's question in Matthew's account. Jesus is baptised not because he needs his sins forgiven, but so that he can be in solidarity with all those who do. That solidarity with sinful humanity is more important than asserting his divine status as different from us. (See Philippians 2: 5-11).

- And from the words of divine approval - can we dare to believe that, like Jesus, we are God's beloved children, with whom he is well pleased? It seems so presumptuous, doesn't it? But perhaps it's better for us not to focus on our own unworthiness, but to register more fully the incredible daring of God in being born, and being baptized, in order both to share our human life and to call us to share his divine life?

In other words, we can remember our Baptism as the sign, the proof, that God in Christ is calling us - just as we are - into his life. 


See you next week. And don't worry - the blogs won't always be quite as theological as this...

Coming up...
Resistance is not futile


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Thursday, 24 January 2019

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