Scripture for Epiphany Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020

Matthew 3: 13-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Baptism of Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved,[a] with whom I am well pleased.”


Some Thoughts on Today’s Reading—From Pastor Pam

Before we get to Matthew’s baptismal story of Jesus, we are introduced to John the Baptist. He is in the wilderness of Judea calling for the people to repent as the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matt. 3:1-2). His clothing is made of camel’s hair. He wears a leather belt around his waist. He eats wild things such as locusts and honey. As startling as his appearance is, the people flock to listen to this wild man and be baptized by him in the waters of the River Jordan as they confess their sins. (Matt. 3: 4-6).

Jesus comes to John, too. What is it about this wild preacher that draws Jesus? Why is it John who must baptize Jesus? Does this encounter of John and Jesus tell us something about who we are? John baptizes Jesus only after Jesus insists. As Jesus comes up from the water, the Spirit of God alights on him and God speaks to his beloved son with whom God is well pleased. (Matt 3: 16-17)

We can read this text thinking about God speaking only to the divinity of Jesus. But Jesus is also fully human. As Jesus comes out of the water, we are reminded that we humans are beloved children of God, too. God made us and knows who we are even when we feel lost in the wilderness.

As baptism initiated the ministry of Jesus, baptism also begins our individual lives of ministry. Jesus shows us that the water and the Spirit turn us toward new priorities that please God no matter how much we insist we are people pleasers seeking approval from others at all cost. It is never too late for baptism or to remember one’s baptism and how it defines our identities. Baptism invites us to consider who we are in Christ and to be our authentic, sacred and beloved selves no matter what the cost.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Pam