Today the church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord. At this event we celebrate a significant moment, Jesus’ baptism is an epiphany story. Jesus transitions from his previous life where he would have been living at home with his parents Mary and Joseph into his new life — he is revealed as the Son of God. We don’t have any information in the New Testament about what Jesus’ life was like as a child and young man. We can only assume he would have been educated with his friends and helped his father Joseph with his work. Then we have this vivid scene and Jesus makes his entrance.
It seems strange that Jesus came to John the Baptist seeking baptism. Why is that? Because we know baptism washes away our sins. So that leads us to wonder, if Jesus is there for baptism, does that mean he was a sinner? In which case he wouldn’t be God and all we believe would be undermined, wouldn’t it? So, perhaps it’s a very strange scene to include in the Gospel. In the heat of the day, by the river Jordan, there could have been hundreds of people, hundreds of sinners seeking a baptism of repentance, seeking a change of heart.
There in the midst though is Jesus who has come from Galilee to be baptised by John. He would have been just one more person, shoulder to shoulder with all the sinners standing in that muddy water. Jesus would have seemed unremarkable, he would have looked no different, easily mistaken for just another humble sinner.
When Jesus approaches John, John tries to dissuade him, he is confused why Jesus should be presenting himself for baptism. John the Baptist says, “It is I who need baptism from you, and yet you come to me!”. And Jesus replies “Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands.” Meaning to do what God wants. And that is what Jesus came to bring about and with that “John gave in to him”. Jesus went into the water, is baptised and through that it enables us to join him through our own baptism and be raised up anew.
This theme of repentance and confession in today’s gospel is something that the children in our First Holy Communion groups will be learning about at the end of this week when they come along for their First Holy Communion lesson on Saturday. Please keep them all in your prayers as they prepare for their first confession later in the month.