Jesus’ baptism is, perhaps, one of the most underplayed elements of the Gospel story. Christians seem to enjoy focusing on the amazing willpower of Jesus in resisting the Devil’s temptations in the wilderness, and so gloss over this watershed moment. We shouldn’t do that.
Jesus’ baptism is generally regarded as the start of his public ministry. It was at that moment when Jesus stepped out into the open and declared, “Yes, I will stand for these people.” With his baptism, “fulfilling all righteousness,” the Incarnate Son publicly accepted the role as the new Adam. The appearance of both the Holy Spirit and the Heavenly Father at the moment of his baptism should highlight the importance of Jesus’ embrace of his mission – yet it becomes a forgotten tale.
I’ve often wondered why. The way we talk about Jesus’ sinlessness could be an indicator. See, we use our language to focus primarily on how Jesus resisted temptation. That is, we tend to focus on overcoming negatives. The problem with using negatives as a focal point is that they so often overcome us and leave us as just plain negative ourselves 1. For this reason we don’t quite know how to process Jesus’ baptism as it has an entirely positive focus. Jesus obeys the will of the Heavenly Father and “fulfills all righteousness.” It leaves us confused.
What if, however, we saw Jesus’ entire existence this way and focused on his positive obedience to the Heavenly Father’s will? How might that change the way we view him? How might angling our perceptions and interpretations towards the positive aspects of his ministry change us?
The stained glass image resides to the right of the resurrection panel showed in this blog yesterday. It’s a powerful reminder of Jesus’ positive determination.
- I’m a Philadelphia sports fan, believe me when I say I know of what I’m speaking. ↩