1 Epiphany: The Baptism of our Lord

Isa. 42:1-9
Ps. 29
Acts 10:34-43
Matt. 3:13-17

The finite and the infinite overlap in everything said about Jesus and the life we share with him.  Addressing God the Father, today’s collect begins, “Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit.” This revelation is a concession to space and time, our need to behold and listen.  We see Jesus anointed of the Father, and hear him proclaimed the beloved Son, but we also know, by the faith imputed to us, that what we behold and hear has been true from before time and forever.  He is the Son of the Father; he is one God with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

St. Matthew’s telling of the baptism of Jesus stresses the public nature of the vision and voice from heaven, “the heavens were opened to [Jesus], and [John the Baptist] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on [Jesus]” (Matt. 3:16).  John, and perhaps the crowd with him, and by implication, all readers of this passage, hear a voice saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). What was witnessed and heard in time is a truth about God the Eternal Son, for there was not when the Son was not.  Jesus did, of course, have an earthly ministry, but its origin is the unsearchable depth of God.

In meditating on the Baptism of Jesus, we do well to meditate on our own.  Though we may not remember the moment, we may with gratitude trust the good intentions of parents or guardians, sponsors and godparents, and a surrounding congregation who made solemn vows and entrusted our lives to God.  And we may trust that a ceremony which in some ways marks the solemn joy of parents welcoming a new child into their lives has not entirely lost its deeper meaning.

Baptism is baptism into the Lord Jesus.  The connection of the baptism of Jesus to our own vocation is drawn out in in the baptism account in the Acts of the Apostles.

“You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ — he is Lord of all.  That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem.  They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead” (Act 10:36-41).

Though mentioning only the Baptism of Jesus, we know from other passages that “as many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ” (Gal. 3:27).

In union with him, our vocation unfolds.  They put him to death; the Old Adam dies in the water of baptism.  God raised him on the third day; we are raised at the triple invocation of One God in Trinity of Persons.  He appeared alive; we appear alive as his witnesses.  He ate and drank with chosen witnesses; we are chosen to do the same in Eucharist and Fellowship.  Our entire vocation is hidden in God with Christ, for “He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love” (Eph. 1:4).

Look It Up:  Isa. 42:1-9

Think About It:  We the servant of God, we are upheld, chosen, and loved.