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Have you ever found it curious that Jesus, the sinless and perfect Son of God, was baptized? It is easy to sympathize with John the Baptist’s words to Jesus in Matthew 3, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” If there’s anyone who didn’t need to be baptized, surely it was Jesus! And yet, Jesus pushes back and says “let it be so.” Why?
In the baptism of Jesus we learn something fundamental about his mission and the purpose for which he came. Jesus doesn’t stand aloof and at a distance from the world but instead enters into the pain of the world and identifies with sinners in their brokenness and need. The baptism of Jesus is the public launch of the rescue mission that began in the manger. It is the unveiling of the very heart of our triune God towards the world he created, sustains, and loves.
If the baptism of Jesus teaches us about the mission of God, it is also meant to teach us about our own vocation and mission in the world. If Jesus is willing to empty himself and identify with sinners in their deepest places of need, we who are baptized into his life and death must do the same. We must be willing to empty ourselves and live for the sake of others. We must learn to turn away from our need for success, recognition, advancement, and achievement and instead encounter the Lord Jesus afresh in the waters of baptism.
Have you ever noticed on Sundays how people often dip their fingers into the water of the baptismal rock and make the sign of the cross over themselves as they enter and exit the church? This isn’t a secret handshake or a ritual for “advanced Christians” that takes years of practice. It is a basic reminder of the vocation that each of us shares as baptized Christians! As we enter into worship, we remember that we stand in God’s presence as those who are baptized into the Lord’s death and resurrection. And as we leave, we likewise remember that our baptism not only welcomes us in, but also sends us out as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
Baptism for Christians is never meant to be a single event from the distant past. It is instead a daily source of identity, mission, and purpose. Let it be so for us today!
The Rev. Tripp Prince
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