The Baptism of Jesus

Mark 1: 7-11
Isa 55:1-11 /Is 12 /1Jn 5:1-9

All you who are thirsty, come to the water.
(Isaiah 55:1)

Our sin had been cleansed with water,
And the Holy Spirit from above,
We were baptized by the Father,
And now bear the mark of His love.

This was what John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, He saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon Him. And a voice came from the heavens: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:7-11)

Reflection

In our last reflection on the Gospel of John last Saturday, we talked about water as one of the most common elements of nature, signifying life. Jesus also used water for ceremonial washing in His first miracle, changing it into wine. In today’s Gospel of Mark, he begins his narrative with the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river. Water in the sacrament of Baptism, as we know, is used for the cleansing of original sin. But Jesus was born without this stain of Adam’s disobedience, so what was our Lord’s purpose in asking John the Baptist to baptize Him?

First of all, Jesus wanted to show the people that He was in solidarity with them, sharing in their repentance for mankind’s common sin. We recall the scene in the Last Supper when Peter initially refused to have Jesus wash his feet, and Jesus told him, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” (John 13:8). Secondly, our Lord wanted to show that the “one mightier than John” must also be the humblest. When John tried to object, Jesus told him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented (Mat.3:15). Finally, it was in fulfillment of the Scriptures that Jesus had to be baptized, as Isaiah had prophesied: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him, and he will bring justice to the nations” (Isa 42:1). His baptism marked the beginning of His public ministry, as testified by none other than the voice of the Father Himself coming from heaven, and the Holy Spirit descending on Him.

This episode in Mark’s Gospel conveys to us the significance of the Sacrament of Baptism in the life of every Christian, as we identify with our Lord Jesus Christ, Who first initiated this Sacrament in the river Jordan. In every baptism, the Holy Spirit descends upon the child, and the Father claims it as His beloved one. We all know the day we were born, our birthday, which we celebrate every year. But how many of us remember the day we were baptized? Our baptismal date is actually more important than our birthday, because it was the day that we became a child of God, and one with our Lord Jesus in His own baptism. It was the day that we truly became a Christian. But it doesn’t matter if we do not know the date when we were baptized, as long as we affirm our baptism as God’s child in all our words and actions, and we live our lives in imitation of our Lord Jesus, making His mission on earth our own.

Water from the side of Christ wash away my sins, and nourish my spirit, that I may be a new creation, purified by Your great sacrifice on the cross. Amen.

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