A sermon on Jesus’s Baptism, based on Matthew 9:1-13 (Lent 1B).
Elijah, back as John the Baptist, baptises Jesus; God and the Holy Spirit appear with Jesus; who then goes out into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. John is imprisoned, Jesus begins his ministry and we hear his message: “the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Phew!
It’s like the overture in an opera, a summary of the 15 chapters to come, and a manifesto for an election campaign, all rolled into one.
Jesus Baptism: why, why, why?
I was thinking about this while I was emptying the bins and putting out the stuff for recycling:
- Why did Elijah have to come back? I’m not sure.
- Why was Jesus baptised? In Mark, Matthew and Luke, it is the trigger for God to endorse Jesus and the Spirit to anoint him Messiah.
- Why did Jesus go out to be tempted? Mark does not say, but Matthew and Luke both give us three answers, but they’re not quite the same.
While I couldn’t get an answer to every question, I could think about these great spiritual things while doing something mundane. Even more amazing:
- I could pray directly to God about it, in Jesus name (which means ‘God with us’) and
- I can even let the Holy Spirit work in my mind and with my spirit, not to always get the answer to my questions, but to better know, love and obey our three-in-one God.
Our Time in Lent
In this short period of Lent, we are privileged to join all the players in Jesus story, most of all the get closer to God as we just spend time with him. Many people will get to know God personally during this Lent, because they will:
- Hear the Gospel from others who went before them and be baptised;
- Make their public commitment to God and receive the Holy Spirit, as Jesus did; and
- They will go into the arid world and be tempted, just as Jesus was.
Unlike Jesus himself, you and I and all other believers will not get all the answers we want, and we will fail to connect with God from time to time, and we will give into temptation. But God has prepared even for our sins so that we can confess and connect to Him at any time. We can spend more time with Him at special points in every week and year of our lives.
Thank God for Jesus! (1 Corinthians 15:57)