Sunday’s Scripture –January 12, 2020
Most Protestant denominations recognize two sacraments: baptism and Holy Communion. A sacrament is a vehicle for God’s grace. That is, an officially recognized action through which God’s grace always comes to those engaging in the action. So, most Christians believe that God is always present in the sacrament of baptism.
We make a pretty big deal out of baptism in church, and rightly so. It’s mentioned a lot in the Bible.
Baptism did not start as a Christian thing, but a Jewish thing. Jesus, however, gave baptism a Christian meaning when he received it. The earliest Christians picked up on its importance and passed it along through the centuries to today.
Mathew, Mark, and Luke all record the story of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptizer at the Jordan River. John, the gospel writer, alludes to it as well.
John the Baptizer said he was baptizing people as a sign of their repentance, so this baptism represented their turning away from their sins and turning toward God. Jesus, however, was without sin. He had nothing to repent of. He had no sin to turn from. He was already turned toward God. So why did Jesus get baptized?
That is one of those mysteries of the faith. Maybe it was to show us that baptism is more about what God does than what we do. Did you notice how John argues with Jesus about who should baptize whom? By asking John to baptize him, Jesus pushed aside all arguments about who was more important, who had power over whom, and drew attention to what’s most important in baptism: not the one doing the baptizing or even the one receiving the baptism, but God.
Another possibility is that Jesus received baptism to affirm that he was God’s son and to set the standard that when we receive baptism God claims us as his children.
- Do you remember your baptism?
- If you were baptized as an infant, do you know who was present?
- If you were baptized as a young person or adult, what were your thoughts and feelings?