By Pastor Stephen A. Curry
This Sunday is the day the church traditionally celebrates the Baptism of Jesus. Jesus had an older cousin, John, who preached a baptism of repentance. The church tradition even calls him John the Baptist. Matthew and Luke record John as a fiery preacher who challenged people (even King Herod) to turn away from sin. The baptism John offered was to offer cleansing of the soul -- a fresh start to anyone who sought to restore their broken relationship with God.
Some people asked John if he was the Messiah, the one who God would send to restore the people of Israel. But John knew that he was not the one. He knew he was only a messenger and that the Messiah, the Deliverer, would come later.
Then Jesus came and found John at the Jordan River. John was surprised. He knew Jesus was the Messiah, the one who came from God to save the world. He also knew Jesus was without sin and was already the Son of God. Jesus did not need to be baptized. But Jesus told John that the baptism was needed to fulfill all righteousness. It was needed so that all things would be made right.
The eternal Christ left the glory and bliss of His heavenly throne to become one of us. Jesus became incarnate. He took on a human body to become Emmanuel, God with us. He came to walk with us, heal our wounds, teach us of God’s love, and not just tell us to love one another but to show us what real love, Holy Love, looks like and how it is done.
Jesus commanded us to be His disciples. A disciple imitates the Master in all he does and says. Christ does not command us to do anything He would not do Himself. So we are joined with Christ in this sacred act -- this act in which He Himself participated. We are yoked together with Him in His ministry and even His death so that we remain yoked with Him in His Resurrection and may join Him in the eternal joy of heaven.
Today, our baptism initiates us into the family of God. In this sacrament, this sacred rite, we enter into the community of believers. We are born again of water and of spirit and receive a new identity as a child of God.