The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in bodily form like like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “you are my son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased.” Luke 3:22
Almighty God, by whose grace alone we are accepted and called to your service, strengthen us by your Holy Spirit and make us worthy of our calling, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Isaiah 43:1 – 7
Acts 8:14 – 17
Luke 3:15 – 22
Isaiah 62:1 – 5
Psalm 36:5 – 10
1 Corinthians 12:1 – 11
John 2: 1 – 11
Baptism of our Lord – Luke 3:15 – 22
Today’s gospel is the final event of the epiphany. Jesus’s baptism at the Jordan River by John. The Christmas season “officially” (liturgically) comes to an end today at the banks of the Jordan. Jesus is no longer the child in Bethlehem manger but the adult Redeemer making his way to Jerusalem. The good news spoken by the angels continues to unfold, the most wondrous part of the Christ stories yet be revealed.
Today, the same spirit that “anoints” the Messiah for his mission is to be about the work of Christmas in the new year, to seek out and find the lost, to heal the hurting, to feed the hungry, to free the in prison, to rebuild nations, to bring peace to all peoples everywhere.
Luke presents Jesus as the last person to be baptised by John, bringing John’s ministry to completion. Luke describes the scene with many images from the 1st testament.
- The sky opens (“oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down” – Isaiah 63:19)
- the spirit “descended upon him like a dove” (many rabbis likened the wind above the water at the dawn of Genesis to a dove hovering above its newborn. In employing this image Luke suggests that, in this Jesus, a new Genesis is about to take place)
- the “voice from heaven” identifies and confirms Jesus (“ Here is my servant… My chosen one with whom I am well pleased” – Isaiah 42:1, today’s first reading, “the Lord said to me, “you are my son, this day I have begotten you” – Psalm 2:7)
Jesus’s baptism at the Jordan comes the moment of God’s “anointing” of his Messiah (the word Messiah means “anointed”) for the work he is about to do.
Baptism is more than just our “naming” ceremony but an ongoing process of becoming the people of faith that God calls us to be. New life in baptism, we claim the name of “Christian” and embrace all that holy name means, to live for others rather than for ourselves, in imitation of Christ.
Our baptism is made each one of us the “servant” of today’s readings, to bring forth in our world for justice, reconciliation and enlightenment of Christ, the “beloved son” and “favour” of God.
In baptism, the same spirit of compassion justice and peace that “descends” upon Jesus that at his baptism by John descends and rests upon us, compelling us to take the work of the gospel.