SCRIPTURE: Matthew 3:13-17
After Herod dies Joseph is given the ‘all clear’ sign to return from Egypt, but when he discovers that Herod’s son is ruling over Judea and decides to settle north, in Nazareth, in Galilee instead. Today’s passage takes place 30 years later as Jesus begins his Ministry. It has the look of an invasion as Jesus crosses over from Galilee into Judea to be baptize by John in the Jordan.
John wasn’t so sure about this. He would have prevented Jesus from being baptized saying “I need to be baptized by you, and you come to me?” But Jesus whispers to him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” The mission of Jesus is about right relationship with God. Jesus places himself in relationship with God at his baptism. God’s mission in the world is through us, with John the Baptist baptizing and with our participation. So Jesus’
baptism is not about Jesus repenting from sin, but as an inaugural event, showing who God is and that Jesus is in relationship with God. Baptism shows Jesus covenanting with God. Jesus represents our rebellious humanity being engaging in God’s ways. Jesus is doing God’s mission to bring all people in relationship with God. Then just as Jesus was baptized and coming out of the water, God speaks, a sign that Jesus is headed in the right direction, “This is my son.” God is affirming their relationship. They are kin. “The Beloved” God expresses love for Jesus. “with whom I am well pleased” which can also be translated as ‘chosen one”. God affirms Jesus’ relationship with God and Jesus’ following in God’s will.
Jesus going from Galilee into Judea is an invasion of sorts. It is to establish the territory of the realm of God. The mission is to bring people into relationship with God. How are we able to live in righteousness with God? Righteousness means relationship more than it means being perfect. In our relationship with God, we are righteous with God despite our imperfections. Our righteousness before God is not a product of our own, but a result of God’s love for us and God’s graciousness towards us that results in forgiveness. God’s response to Jesus is like God’s new response to us; the heavens are opened and God’s Spirit is given. We are called to be children of God, God affirms that we are dearly loved and pleasing to God. God’s mission for Jesus is to bring all into relationship with God. Not to live self righteous lives of perfection, but to be in a grace filled living relationship with God as our loving parent. Jesus’ ministry will show us how to live in relationship with God and in turn how we can live graciously with our neighbor, loving in our ways and forgiving of
On NPR they interviewed Maggie Rowe. A Christian, she has been on Comedy Central and written for Arrested Development. She talked about taking Christianity to the Extreme. She was filled with self doubt and afraid of sin and eternal damnation. She live her faith, fearful of being judged by a vengeful God. At 19, her fear of eternal damnation was so great she checked herself into an Evangelical Psychiatric Facility. She wrote a memoir called Sin Bravely that tells of her wrestle with her fears of not being good enough and the grace she found in Martian Luther’s concept of pecca fortirer which means brave sin. Basically the idea is that the most important thing is to understand God's forgiveness. We don’t
have to be perfect And if we find ourselves wrestling with sin that there is forgiveness enough to help us back to God. She say, “my psychiatrist told me all these fears that you're having, it's drawing you further and further away from God. The best thing that you can do is to do exactly what you feel in your heart that you want to do…follow what you intrinsically believe and then let the Bible follow,”
This was a way for her to redefine the sin that was debilitating her with fear, to see that the love that God has for her and that forgiveness from God was greater than any sin.
When we find our selves in trouble, and nothing helps us except when we pray to Jesus, we need to find out more about this Jesus who answers prayers. Our journey of faith begins with reading the Gospels that reveals the Good News of Jesus Christ. After quite a rough start, with Mary and Joseph, fleeing to Egypt and all, Jesus now begins his ministry with the inaugural event of Baptism by John in the Jordan. Crossing into the territory of Judea, the realm of God is taking territory with people’s hearts. John the Baptist is one of the first. The mission of Jesus draws all of us to God. The heavens are open, the Holy Spirit is released, Jesus creates the way for us to enter into relationship with God as our beloved. Grace, love and forgiveness enrich our lives with God and others.