Isaiah 42: 1-9
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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