Gospel: Matthew 3: 13-17
Many people had been coming to John the Baptist for baptism. He was an astute man and, as we saw in Advent (2nd Sunday), could tell whether someone was genuinely repentant - and was not afraid to challenge anyone who did not come with an honest heart.
When Jesus appears, John must have been totally confused.
John recognises that the request is the wrong way round - it is Jesus who should be doing the baptising not John. But Jesus insists that it is important that He follow this path of initiation into His mission. - a path He describes as that of righteousness.
So the one who had come to make that path straight, leads Jesus into the waters of the Jordan and immerses Him in them.
Their obedience to what feels to be the wrong way round is rewarded by God’s declaration about the One who has been baptised.
A public sign that the Spirit of God is upon Jesus comes in the form of a dove - and words that will be heard again at His Transfiguration announce Jesus’ status as Son of God - the Beloved of God - the One on whom God’s favour rests.
It could rightly be said that Jesus did not need to be baptised - but the fact that He chose this demonstrates His willingness to follow our path - to walk where humans have to walk in order to come to the Kingdom.
This willingness makes Jesus a sure guide for us. All that we do - all that we experience - we know that Jesus also experienced in one way or another.
It means that we really do have a God who walks with us - One who does not lord it over us.
This humility does not diminish Jesus. For God, it prompts the affirmation of Jesus as His Son. For us, it prompts the sense that here is someone w can trust and follow.
We have all seen and heard of people who will tell others what to do - but who couldn’t or wouldn’t do it themselves. Jesus is not in this mould. When He tells us how to live we know that it is based on His own experience - He has, as the saying goes, “practised what He preached” - and come up against the problems we do.
Here is a Lord - a God who walks alongside us as a companion - a soul-friend in the truest sense of the word.
What does it mean for me?
How does the humility of Jesus in being prepared to receive John’s baptism help you to trust your own life to Him?
How do the words spoken over Jesus relate to what God might have said over you at your Baptism?