Isaiah 42: 1-9

Psalm 29

Acts 10: 34-43

St. Matthew 3: 13-17

 

“This Is My Son”

 

Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.

 

In today’s Gospel Jesus approaches John the Baptist, His

cousin, to be baptized. During the season of Advent we reflected

on John the Baptist who was the voice in the wilderness crying

out to prepare the way for the coming King. In Christmas we

celebrated the arrival of our King. And now the Epiphanies begin.

John has been preaching about the coming King for who knows

how long, and finally the day has arrived; His Messiah has come

to the Jordan.

 

Up to this point John has been preaching for all to repent in

preparation for the coming King and has been providing

ceremonial baptisms to help wash people of their guilt. Now this

baptism is different from the one we have; far different for our

Baptism has the Holy Spirit and his was just mere water. John’s

baptism was no different than the ceremonial baptism that all born

in a Jewish family, male and female babes, must undergo. Yes,

every Jewish infant is baptized, though not in the name of Father,

Son, and Holy Spirit, but in accordance with the Levitical Laws of

Moses written in Leviticus 12 and other passages in the books of

Moses.

 

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For males it is the fortieth day after his birth, he and his

mother are to go to the temple and be purified. Before this

happens the mother is considered in a state of being purified on

account of “being in the blood” of her child’s birth. So both son

and mother are to be purified through ceremonial baptism on his

41st day. Again same goes for female children but the timing is

slightly different. Now in addition to the purification the mother is

to bring two offerings for herself, a burnt offering and a sin

offering. The burnt offering completes the process of purification

from the flow of her blood. The sin offering is to wash her of her

sins in further preparation of motherhood. The sin offering is not

connected to her giving birth for giving birth is not a sin. The sin

offering is because she is a sinner.

So in Luke 2:22-24, 33 days after Jesus was circumcised,

both He and Mary went to the temple to receive ceremonial

baptism through water alone and in addition Mary gave up for

herself alone two offerings, a burnt offering because of the flow of

blood and a sin offering because she is a sinner in need of God’s

continual help in preparing her for motherhood. So, according to

Luke 2:24 and Leviticus 12:8 there is no Immaculate (sinless)

Conception of Mary, she is a sinner.

This is one of many incidents of ceremonial baptism within

the Laws of Moses observed by the Jewish community. And they

are all connected, for all of them are about cleansing or

purification. Not just the body, for that is mere baptism, aka

washing, but also spiritually, for it is a ceremonial baptism. The

baptisms provided by John the Baptist is of like manner, a

 

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ceremony dedicated to purification in preparation of the coming

coronation of the King of all nations.

So when the Messiah arrived at the Jordan to be baptized by

John, Jesus had to convince John to baptize Him. Why? John is

preparing people for the coming Messiah. Why would John

prepare the Messiah for the coming Messiah? In addition John is

ceremonially purifying through his baptisms. The Messiah is pure.

Why would John purify He who is already pure? If anything, Jesus

should be baptizing John because Lord knows John is in need of

baptismal purification.

 

There is also the fact that John is so blessed by the Holy

Spirit that he is humbled by Christ’s presence. He knows his place

in relationship to his King. Those with authority are the ones who

baptize. Usually you would go to the highest ranking priest or a

prophet, if one is available, for baptisms. John is not Christ, nor is

he Elijah, or a prophet, but merely the voice crying in the

wilderness prophesied by Isaiah. Jesus who is Christ ranks far

above John the Baptist. John is not even worthy to untie the

straps of Jesus’ sandals, why would he be worthy of baptizing He

who is void of sin? Because Jesus is sinless and has divine

authority, while John is a sinner in need of forgiveness just like all

others, John would have prevented Jesus from baptizing him,

saying, “I need to be baptized by you.” Again, between the two, it

is not Jesus who needs purification but John.

 

But John is just the voice in the wilderness, there is more to

the story he is not privy to. He at least knows, and has been

rightly preaching, that the Baptism provided by the Messiah, the

 

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Baptisms done in His Name, are far greater than his own for

these Baptisms have with them the Holy Spirit. But he knows not

why Jesus needs to be baptized. Yes, John’s baptism is for those

who need to prepare for the coming King, but what if to Jesus this

baptism is to help Him, the King, prepare for His own ministry?

There is a reason why in all four Gospels the Baptism precedes

His ministry.

Jesus says, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to

fulfill all righteousness.” His Baptism inaugurates the fulfillment of

all the prophecies related to God’s saving grace. His Baptism is

the opening ceremony to our eternal salvation.

 

Now during this baptism a most amazing thing happened,

God spoke, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well

pleased.” This is my Son. When God the Father spoke He was

not adopting Jesus as His Son, which some unfortunately believe.

Yes Jesus is a human, but He is also God the Son, therefore

when God the Father spoke He was not establishing but rather

declaring an already established fact. Jesus is His Son, always

has been since before time, and always will be to the end of

times. He wasn’t just a mere Son of God, but the Son of God. A

Son of God or Daughter of God would be you or me. Now we are

adopted into the family of God on account of and only of our

baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. But

Jesus is the, not “a” but “the”, Son of God and God the Son. He is

both, and the only person who is either. So God is declaring, not

establishing. And with this the ministry of Jesus Christ begins.

 

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Now I ask you this, and I already alluded to this, are we not

also Sons and Daughters of God? Are we not Children of God?

We are, and we are established such through our baptism. So

there are similarities, but stark differences between our and our

Lord’s Baptism. At Christ’s baptism, God announces for all to hear

that Jesus is His Son, a fact that has been true since before

history. At our baptism, God announces through Scripture that we

become His children, are adopted once and for all on account of

the Holy Spirit which is present during this baptism. And that’s the

similarity for, just like Jesus’ baptism, at our baptism the Spirit is

indeed present. We are all alike called children of God through

our baptism. We are called to “be” children of God, and Jesus “is”

called the Child of God.

 

But it’s not Jesus’ Baptism alone that we are connected to

but also all Jewish baptisms; for there are similarities and

differences between our baptism and the Jewish baptism.

According to the Laws of Moses in Leviticus there must always be

a purification done for infant children. This baptismal purification is

connected to the circumcision which signifies the adoption of one

into the family of God. Baptismal purification is not circumcision

but is connected, but to us our baptism is circumcision. For our

baptism, through the help of the Holy Spirit, fulfills all that the

Levitical baptism and circumcision fulfills and more.

 

Our baptism forgives us not only our current sins, but

provides the forgiveness of all our sins to include original sin. 1

Peter 3:21, “Baptism... now saves you, not as a removal of dirt

from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience,

through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” And through the Holy

 

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Spirit which places the seal of God on our foreheads via baptism

in lieu of circumcision we all become children of God. Thus our

infant baptism fulfills all and even more than the infant baptism

prescribed by God to His people Israel. For though the Spirit is

not present in the ceremonial baptisms of the Jews, it is present

100% guaranteed in our singular baptism done in the name of the

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In the end, when you consider your own baptism, remember

that it is a continuation of the Levitical infant baptism but fulfilled

and made perfect through the death and resurrection of our Lord

and Savior Jesus Christ, and remember that through our baptism

we like Christ our Savior are all Children of God.

 

Let us pray,

Dear Heavenly Father, during His baptism You proclaimed

for all the world Jesus Christ Your Son. Ascribe in our hearts

through the help of the Holy Spirit the faith that needs not a

proclamation but desires a kinship with our Savior who is also our

Brother. In your most holy name we pray: Father, Son, and Holy

Spirit. Amen.

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