BAPTISM OF THE LORD (A)
Sunday 8 January 2023
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptised by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptised, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased’.”
Why did Jesus allow himself to be baptised? The classic interpretation follows what is said in the Letter to the Hebrews: “Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters… to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people” (Heb 2:17). By being baptised in the River Jordan by John, Jesus shows solidarity with sinners in everything, despite being without sin.
The Gospel tells us that, as soon as He was baptised, Jesus “came up” from the water. The fact that He “came up” (ascended) means that he first “went down” (descended). Jesus’ coming up out of the Jordan also reminds us of the river crossing by the children of Israel with Joshua. Notably, the name ‘Joshua’ in Hebrew means “God saves”, the same as the name Jesus. Like Joshua, who guided the Jewish people to the other side of the Jordan to take possession of the Promised Land, Jesus, in the same river, leads us from the death of old ‘man’ to new life in the Spirit.
You and I are also called to identify and associate ourselves with Him: dying to ourselves in order to rise to new life in Him!