Sunday, January 12, 2020
The Baptism of Jesus
Rev. Liz Aguilar
Community Congregational Church, UCC
Baptism- do you remember yours? Maybe you were too young to remember it, like me? Or maybe you were baptized as a young person or an adult and so you remember it very well.
Today is traditionally the Sunday in which the Christian Church celebrates and remembers the baptism of Jesus. In Matthew’s Gospel there is no account of baby Jesus being presented at the temple with Simeon and Anna recognizing him. Nor is there an account of Jesus being separated from his parents, only to be found teaching among the older rabbis. Those stories are found in the other Gospels.
However, in Matthew the narrative goes from the visit of the magi, which we looked at last week, to the role and function of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus. – Now no one knows why Matthew would leave out the stories which other Gospel writers included. Perhaps Matthew wanted to focus on Jesus’ adult ministry and mission. We don’t know.
Yet, what we do know is that Matthew is the one Gospel writer that most emphasizes Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah. Matthew wanted his listeners of his Gospel to be fully aware that Jesus was whom the prophets before him had said- the Messiah who was to come to save the world.
That’s why Matthew quotes Jesus saying that John must baptize him to “fulfill all righteousness.” Therefore, here in Matthew Jesus is shown as being obedient to what was prophesize about him.
So what does this mean to us today? Well, if we remember that the definition of being a Christian is to be “Christ- like then if and when we want to learn to be a Christian all we need to do is look to Jesus as our best and most important example.
We are emulating Jesus when we say we are a Christian.
So, if we are say we want to be a Christian and we say we want to be like Jesus Christ then we must know what were the traits and behaviors of Jesus.
The character trait that is most evident to me in this story is that Jesus was humble. Now, that isn’t a character trait that we like to follow necessarily, today, is it? We are taught in this culture that the louder and more opinionated that you are the more successful you will be, the more respected you will be. We are told that the more we push our own agenda to win our own arguments, the smarter and more respected we will be.
However, that isn’t what Jesus’s behavior is like. Is it? NO, right away we see that John understands who Jesus is and is completely surprised that Jesus would ask him to baptize Jesus. He doesn’t think he is worthy to do so. He knows who Jesus is and he knows that he isn’t Jesus’ equal.
And yet, Jesus, in HIS humility and HIS desire to obey God’s prophesy understands that He must allow John to baptize Him. Now, if John was baptizing for the “repentance of sins,” does that mean that Jesus was seeking forgiveness of His sins? No, because Jesus was with out sin. Instead, Jesus was seeking to do what was expected of Him to do and in order to do that he had to humble himself.
I like this quote by Eric Benato, NT scholar and professor at Princeton Seminary, when he said, “Jesus is not a king who won’t deign to tread the humble paths of his servants. Jesus’ hold on his power is not so tenuous that he must zealously hold on to it at all times. For Jesus, power and humility, authority and submission, power and relationship are not at odds.”
So what about you and what about me? Are we being like Christ in our every-day interactions with people? Are we being humble or are we making ourselves be number one all of the time? Are we more interested in getting our own way or are we more interested in following God’s instructions for our lives?
To remind us of the vows we took or someone took for us at our baptism, I want to go through them again as they are written in the Book of Worship.
(Read through them.)
May we live out these vows through out our lives! Amen.