The season of Epiphany is often commemorated by observing the first three occasions on which Jesus’ divinity was revealed:
1) when the wise men found infant Jesus in Bethlehem,
2) when John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan, and
3) when Jesus’ performed the miracle at the marriage at Cana.
Last week we read a wonderful post by Amy Flickinger that shared how her family celebrated the culmination of Christmas on the Twelfth Night by having their family’s wooden nativity wise men end their star-guided journey at Jesus’ stables, thereby revealing him as King.
This week I want to reflect on the miraculous events found in Luke 3:21-22 that depicts Jesus’ baptism when God proclaims him “his beloved Son”, once again his deity is revealed.
While John was the one who was to prepare the way, it is Jesus who is the “One….God’s One and Only Son…anointed by the Holy Spirit…who is now HERE!” In these verses we see Jesus’ baptism and what it ultimately means to the church and individual believers alike.
But why did Jesus need to accept John’s water baptism for the “forgiveness of sins”? (Luke 3:3). Scripture tells us Jesus is sinless (Heb. 4:15). In Luke’s narrative we are given clues to “the whys.” We see Jesus is in the crowd of people who have responded to John’s call to baptism for it says, “when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized” (Luke 3:21). These verses offer two motivations:
1) the events that occur during Jesus’ baptism confirm John’s preaching and message about him as the long awaited Messiah, and
2) it emphasizes Jesus’ identification with the people, therefore he is also identifying with Israel’s sins, which in turn foreshadows the judgment Jesus will endure on the cross.
Now comes the marvelous part: as Jesus identified with humanity through John’s water baptism, we see him praying in submission to his Father and we hear God’s voice proclaim, “You are my beloved Son” as the heavens open up “the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form” (Luke 3:21-22). It is in this event that Jesus’ deity as one of the persons of the Godhead is manifested, for we see all thee persons of the Godhead displayed together, offering Scriptural truth to our Trinitarian theology!
It is the same Holy Spirit that empowered Jesus for His ministry that empowered the church at the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1:14) and has continued across the span of time and place to empower and enlighten the church and individual believers alike (John 16:13).
I end stressing, in Jesus Christ there is Good News! Yet, we also see in John’s preaching we have a part to play. For repentance is an individual personal decision; a decision to turn to (and for evermore turn towards) Christ allowing him, through the Spirit, to refine you into his likeness.
Therefore, as we begin the new year take this time to look at your spiritual journey afresh. Is your life lived in submission to the Father through prayer, bearing fruit through the power of the Holy Spirit? What might God be calling you to? Who might God want you to reach out to? Ponder these questions a bit. Write down your spiritual desires, pray on them and then sit and listen to God in silence so you might hear his leadings.
Identify with Christ’s baptism by returning to the vows of your own baptism and daily repent and turn towards Christ, praying to be used by God for the service of his people all for his glory (Isa. 43:7). Remembering and claiming in prayer that he promises to turn our darkness (sin) into light, our pain and sorrow into joy and death into life…life eternal! Amen