Why Was Jesus Baptized?

Jan 8, 2019

Gospel Reflection, The Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11; Titus 2: 11-14, 3:4-7; Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22

Why Was Jesus Baptized? 

Why was Jesus baptized?  This is a good question.  With the event of his own baptism, Jesus stepped out of his hidden life into the light of public life.  Yet, even John the Baptist stood and questioned him saying that Jesus should baptize him and not the other way around.  John was calling people to conversion and penitence.  The external sign of this was immersion in the water of the Jordan, an act and a symbol of cleansing.  He was trying to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah.  They were to change their lives and to be on the alert for the coming of the great time of renewal.  He called the coming Savior someone “mightier than I” and saw himself as merely his servant. 

John’s surprise must have been great as the great one whose coming John had proclaimed came humbly and quietly, like one sinner among others.  What did it mean?  John received an answer “from heaven”.  God gave us to understand that Jesus’ attitude was pleasing to him, and that in doing this, Jesus was showing himself to be God’s “beloved Son”. 

What does Jesus’ first public appearance have to say to us?  First, that I should prepare the way for the coming of God in my life.  To that end, many hindrances on my path need first to be cleared away, many crooked things made straight.  What is still more important, however, is that God himself comes down to me, that he shows no aversion to me, to my failings or my mistakes.  In the baptism in the Jordan lived out fully to the cross, he took my guilt upon his shoulders.  That is why it is not permissible for anyone who wishes to find God to exalt himself above other people or to look down on them.  God finds anyone who steps down as Jesus did.  That is what meets with God’s approval, not self-satisfied pride.

May this Christmas season find you as having been blessed by the one who comes with gentle and humble heart!

Father Tony