“And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).
The Baptism of Jesus is rich in symbolism and an indication of a God who loves us. As the epitome of fatherhood, God guides us toward becoming more than a follower but a true reflection of God’s love.
The event begins with Jesus’ cousin, John, baptizing followers in preparation of the Messiah. John’s actions are referred to as Baptism of Repentance as it encouraged the acknowledgement and confession of sins and a renewed effort to live a more holy life. John told the newly baptized that one was soon coming who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Much to John’s surprise, Jesus approaches John and asks that he too be baptized. John resisted. He felt unworthy to baptize Jesus and the action to be unnecessary. Jesus was without sin. He had nothing to repent. Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
So John complied. As uncomfortable as he was with baptizing someone he recognized as our Savior, he certainly wouldn’t disobey him.
After John baptized Jesus, the sky opened and the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus like a dove. A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I’m well pleased.”
Known as the Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord in the Roman Catholic Church, and the feast of the Theophany in the East, Jesus is called by God the Father as his son. This event is significant on several levels.
Jesus’ baptism is the beginning of his ministry, throughout which he practiced what he preached. Our loving God in Jesus shows us how to repent. With his submersion in the Jordan River, and the evidence of the Trinity’s unification, Jesus commits to do God’s will and fulfill the promise of salvation. Jesus identified with sinners, took our sins upon himself, and began his ministry for our salvation.
We are reminded of the importance of baptism. Baptism is an ancient ritual of purification practiced by the Jewish people before entering a holy place. Converts to Judaism also participated in a baptism as part of their initiation into the faith. It indicated not only the acknowledgement of being impure but also the intention to continue on a holier, purer path.
Evidence of the Three-in-One, our Triune God, is revealed through God the Father’s voice, God the Son’s physical presence, and the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of the dove.
This is one of my favorite scenes noted in Scripture, one I’d wish to have witnessed. When I ponder the richness of the Baptism of Jesus while praying the First Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, I wonder how I would have reacted and how it would have contributed toward my conversion.
If you were there, how do you think you’d have reacted? How would it have changed you?