Sunday, 19 January 2014
The Baptism of Jesus
Jesus’ baptism by John was clearly one of the key moments in his life and ministry. In many ways it was the launch-pad for what was to come as this is where he receives the endorsement that confirms the call. This is a moment when his identity is named in a very particular way – this is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased. And how interesting that God chooses this setting for this statement of Jesus’ identity. As one of the commentators I read remarks: “God’s revelation of Jesus’ identity occurs not in the centre, not in the presence of the political, social, economic, and religious elite, and not with their approval or permission. God is at work on the margins with those who dare to see a different present and an alternative way of life and future.”
God is a God of surprises. We sometimes quote that wonderful verse from Hebrews 13 – verse 8: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. That verse contains a tremendous truth. There is a very real sense in which God is unchanging. But God is beyond our understanding – and there is an equally real sense in which our experience of God changes day by day. Time and time again, thankfully, God comes along and surprises us. God may be unchanging, but God is certainly not predictable.
Many times in his ministry Jesus did surprising things and got involved in surprising situations, but it was never just to score a point or be a sensation. It was always something with a profoundly significant meaning. In many ways it is surprising that Jesus got baptised by John – but he saw it as an important part of his identification with us, an important part of the incarnation