In the reformed church, Baptism is a big deal as it is one of our two sacraments. We are thinking about Baptism because our reading today is Luke’s account of the Baptism of Jesus. If John was calling for Israel to repent from their sin and turn to God then surely Jesus doesn’t need to undergo this? Isn’t He already doing God’s will? Well of course He is, but we see that His baptism effectively validates John’s message. John states that the kingdom is coming and we need to change so we are ready for its arrival. By undergoing baptism, Jesus identifies with the brokenness of humanity and points to the way forward for us.
This all becomes clear in the moments after His baptism when the Spirit descends upon Him in bodily form “like a dove”. It is this anointing by the Spirit that Luke sees as critical to empowering the mission of Jesus. It shows us Jesus is anointed by God by His receiving the Spirit. We also have God confirming Jesus to be God’s son, someone loved by God with whom God is well pleased. So, in addition to validating John’s message of the coming king, the baptism of Jesus reveals the origins of Jesus and shows us the path Jesus is going to take.
It’s the same for us. In our baptism we are reminded of our relationship to God and of God’s love for us. Baptism calls us into the church in order that we may serve God. Just as Jesus received the Spirit so do we. It is the gift of the Spirit to the church at Pentecost that empowers her in her mission to the world. These things allow us to see Jesus for who He truly is. We cannot be subjects of the kingdom unless we know who the King is. Our king is the one with the unique claim in history, to be the anointed son of God. That’s what we confess when we say we are Christians. So may we live out our baptism with the faith and courage that Jesus lived out in His.
(The Baptism of the Christ – Daniel Bonnell)