Last Sunday the liturgical church celebrated the baptism of Jesus. Many have wondered why Jesus would need to be baptized, afterall we are told that he was sinless and if being baptized is an outward expression of the inward grace we have received for the forgiveness of our sins, why would Jesus do it? The great bible commentator William Barclay suggests that the baptism of Jesus accomplished four important things.
First, being baptized was a moment of decision
Jesus waited patiently for 30 years for a sign that it was time for him to come into the public eye and begin his earthly ministry. John the baptist was the sign, the one dressed in camels hair, crying out in the wilderness and offering a baptism of repentance. Going to John there on the Jordan was Jesus’ act of obedience to begin, what would inevitably become an extremely intense 3 years. A ministry that would lead him to his death, but also to his resurrection.
Second, being baptized was a moment of identification
He did not need to be cleansed of sin but in this movement of the people who were repenting and coming back to God, Jesus wanted to make himself known.The bible tells us that crowds of people were responding to John the Baptists’ cr and coming to him to confess their sins and be baptized. God was at work through John and Jesus needed to be a part of it.
Third, being baptized was a moment of approval
Jesus had made this huge step and made himself known, beginning his ministry and following obediently the path set before him. Through his baptism he experienced his Father’s affirmation and love. This was a deeply moving and personal experience for Jesus, not unlike the moments when we experience God’s affirmation in our own lives.
Finally, being baptized was a moment of equipping
When Jesus took those first steps out of the water the Holy Spirit came upon him, filling him, and preparing him for ministry. The dove, a symbol of gentleness and peace, brings to life the type of ministry Jesus would have. A ministry of gentleness, compassion and love.
Jesus did not need to be baptized in the way that we all do as sinners in need of cleansing but he needed to be baptized as Matthew’s gospel tells us “to fulfill all righteousness.” His baptism was the inauguration of his ministry, so to speak, and even though he didn’t need repentance, being baptized shows that Jesus’ identifies with the sinful people who he came to save. It shows that through his incarnation of coming to live among us as a human that he understands us and can relate to us even in our struggles and temptations and even as we step out into ministry. You see, the baptism was so important for Jesus because it was at that moment the Holy Spirit came to rest upon him as he began to fulfill that which he was called to do.
When we invite the Holy Spirit to join us in life and lead us in ministry, I don’t believe that he would turn down the invitation to come alongside us. John 15:26 refers to the Holy Spirit as The Helper, the Comforter, the Friend, the Advocate, the Encourager depending on which translation you look at and all these essentially express the fact the the Holy Spirit, that which we receive from the Father and the Son, is God actively involved in our life, guiding us, leading us, admonishing us, and loving us.
The Father shows God’s love by giving up his son
The Son shows God’s by dying for us
The Spirit shows God’s love by living within us
The Holy Spirit works within us, he speaks to our heart and as we choose to follow him he begins working on us inwardly to make us more like him Asking for more grace and more of God’s spirit can never be a bad thing, in fact it is a good practice to get into. In the mornings when I am doing my devotions and prayer I often ask God to fill me, give me more of his Spirit and his love, empower me and equip me for the day ahead. This spiritual practice helps you to recognize the power of God, working in and through you.
In Ephesians st. Paul writes,
“…I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith… so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Perhaps use this as a personal prayer each morning, and may God’s spirit fill you all and may he work mightily through you to do his work. Invite God to fill you, every day, read that prayer for yourself and for others and I promise you he will not leave you hanging but he will show up and transform your life.