The Baptism Of The Lord
WHO IS THAT MAN?
Is 42:1-4, 6-7 or Is 40:1-5, 9-11
Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10.
(11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Acts 10:34-38 or It 2:11-14; 3:4-7
The grace of God has appeared, saving all
and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,
as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of our great God
and savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good.
When the kindness and generous love
of God our savior appeared,
not because of any righteous deeds we had done
but because of his mercy,
He saved us through the bath of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he richly poured out on us
through Jesus Christ our savior,
so that we might be justified by his grace
and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
I remember the first time a few years ago
that I started to view the movie, the "Passion of Christ" on
DVD. I got so far as the 'Scourging at the Pillar' and
decided to turn it off. I just couldn't stomach it. I didn't
want to think that Jesus could have been that badly
A week or so later, right before Christmas, I decided to
watch it again until the finish. The movie was very graphic,
but I realized how real it must have been for our Lord, our
Savior, that man hanging on that cross dying for our sins,
until his last words, "It is Finished."
That man. His mission was over. It was done. He paid the
price, taken our sins upon himself, and offered them to His
Father on that cross. That man, that human being, like us in
every way but sin.
After the watching the movie, I started to browse through
some homilies (sermons) that I had prepared ahead of time
for the upcoming weeks. As I was browsing I came across one
on the baptism of the Lord. About that time my two
granddaughters came in the door, and the youngest came and
jumped on my lap. She looked at the photo of Jesus being
baptized and said, "Who is that man Grandpa?" Being three
years of age I tried to explain as best I could, but she
kept asking who and what and why? She went into the kitchen
for a while. I looked at the photo again and asked myself,
Who is that man going down into that water and coming up
like all the rest? They are after all, sinners, like we are.
They needed to repent as do we. They needed to be baptized
as do we. Jesus is none of that. He doesn't need to be
baptized, and yet, maybe he did need to, to "fulfill all
righteousness" as he told John, if he was going to
accomplish his mission.
Humankind has failed God so many times before and failed
even ourselves. Adam and Eve in the Garden. Hadn't God given
it all to them, and told them not to eat of the fruit of the
tree of knowledge? That's all. Just that . . . and they blew
it. Hadn't God continued to love His people and to forgive
them? And yet, hadn't the people failed to accept God's
love, but instead continued to live in sin? Hadn't God been
so disappointed with the sin and evil of the people that he
had Noah and his sons build an ark, because God was going to
destroy the world by means of a flood? And that He did. He
sent prophets to teach the people His laws. Hadn't He
destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of the sinfulness of
the people, except for Lot's family, whom he spared? And
even then, he told them not to look back and Lot's wife
looked back and bingo, she turned into a pillar of salt.
Hadn't God brought His enslaved people out of Egypt, led by
Moses, so they could live on a new land, a promised land?
Hadn't God performed miracles to show His power, love,
unbinding care, and compassion for the Israelites? And yet,
they made false gods and continued to live in evil and sin.
Hadn't God given Moses the Ten Commandments so that they
(and us) would have His laws to live by? What happened? How
many more chances could God have given? His love is so deep
for us, so compassionately forgiving that He sent this man,
His only Son, to save what his Father had created? To take
upon his shoulders the sins of the world, that he became
sin, so that paradise might be an option for us once again –
Eternal life could become a reality for us so that we might
share in His divinity?
And so his baptism did mark the beginning of his mission,
new life breathed into a deflated sinful humankind. His
baptism was an indication of his humanity, an invitation for
them and us to follow him on his mission, to begin anew,
washed clean and sent out to join him on that salvation
journey, that would lead to that tragic end, his death on
that cross where he uttered those words, "It is Finished."
Who is that man who loves us so much that he would take upon
his shoulders our pain, our cross, our suffering, our
terrorism, depression, our cancer, our poverty, our fears,
our unbelief, our helplessness, and our sins? Who is this
man who calls us to walk with him, letting go of all the
things that keep us apart from him . . . the indifference,
the complacency, the refusal to love, the revenge, the
self-righteousness, the years of not talking to a brother,
sister, mother, father for no important reason? Who is this
man who preaches forgiveness and compassion and love, and
who embraces all of us with every fiber of his being and
offers us up to his Father?
Who is this man who calls us to share in his baptism, his
mission, to walk his journey, rather our journey? Do we just
follow him when it is convenient for us? When it is easy? Do
we follow him only until a certain age, thinking that he
will walk the rest of our steps for us?
Living God's way isn't easy. It's not suppose to be. There
is the reality of the tremendous pain and suffering in our
imperfect world, times of doubt of his presence, times of
despair, of being tired. Amid growing corruption in world
governments, the tensions brought about because of so much
terrorism around the globe, and our government
administration's failure to call it for what it is, and who
is responsible, leaves all peoples less secure. But, if we give up the journey,
then there is nothing. There is no eternal life, no
everlasting peace, no heaven for us and our children to
go to. Love God with our whole hearts, soul, and mind, and
love our neighbor as ourselves, despite the given situation
in our world. And maybe finally, we are beginning to do just
Who is this man who cares so much for us when often times we
care so little for him? Who is this man who has entered our
lives and calls us "friends?" who sent his Holy Spirit to
breathe on us so that we could walk the journey together,
hand in hand, step by step, as one world family, striving
for peace and reconciliation, motivated by love, to live as
members of His Body? Who is this man?
And a voice came from heaven saying, "You are my beloved
Son. On you my favor rests."
It is my prayer that this message was
meaningful to you. Thank you, God bless and have a
© Deacon Steve
Take time to
have so much
wants you to
Pick them up
And bow your
they do, let
you how to
there is so
much to see,
And you will
come to me.