First Sunday after the Epiphany
Baptism into God’s Family
What would our reaction have been if we were firsthand witnesses to one of the major events of Jesus’ life and ministry? In our Gospel lesson from Matthew we see that John was surprised and reluctant to initiate the baptism of Jesus. John recognized Jesus as the Messiah. He even told Jesus that he, John, ought to be the one who was being baptized by Jesus. Following some words of reassurance from Jesus, John agreed to baptize Jesus.
People often wonder why Jesus would offer himself to be baptized. Being without sin, Jesus did not need to subject himself to be baptized along with the sinners whom John baptized that day along the Jordan River. The reason Jesus was baptized was to fulfill the law and create a special union with us.
Baptism is the sacrament of initiation. Through baptism believers and their children are embodied in the covenant of grace and are a part of the fellowship of the church. Jesus desired a public baptism to identify with those he came to serve and save. His baptism was an outward witness of his inner commitment.
Scripture tells us that the moment Jesus came out of the water in the Jordan River the following happened: Immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove (Matthew 3:17). In full sight of the crowd, God claimed Jesus.
Likewise, this is what God says to each of us when we are baptized. We belong to God’s family. Through our baptism, repentance, and faith in Jesus we are forgiven of our sins. Let us remember our baptism today and celebrate God’s promise to us!
David A. Marcus Jr., pastor, Christ Moravian Church,
Winston-Salem, North Carolina