Key Text

Matthew 3:13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River. He presented himself to John and asked to be baptised. At first John wouldn’t have a bar of it, saying, “You’ve got it all back to front. It is me that needs to be baptised by you.”

But Jesus insisted, saying, “For now, it is the right thing to do. Baptise me, for it is fitting for us to do all that God asks of anyone.

So John gave in and baptised Jesus. As he came up from the water, he saw the sky suddenly opening up and the Spirit of God coming down like a diving kookaburra and taking hold of him. And a voice filled the air, saying, “You are my Son; my love personified. You fill me with pride.”

cited from Laughing Bird Liturgical Resources

 

Image of the week

January 10, 2005

The Baptism of Christ

Andrea del Verrocchio
1472-75
Oil on wood, 177 x 151 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Commissioned by the monastery church of San Salvi in Florence, where remained until 1530, the picture was executed in the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio, whose style is well defined by the figures of Christ and Baptist. The special fame of the work is however due to the Verrocchio's pupil who helped him paint the picture: in the blond angel on the left and in the landscape above is in fact recognizable the hand of Leonardo, the very young Leonardo, present in Verrocchio's workshop around 1470. Some critics ascribe the second angel to another young Florentine artist, Sandro Botticelli.

St John the Baptist baptizes Jesus by pouring water over his head. The extended arms of God, the golden rays, the dove with outstretched wings and the cruciform nimbus show that Jesus is the Son of God and part of the Trinity. Two angels on the riverbank are holding Jesus' garment. The composition is attributed to Verrocchio, although there can be no definite answer as to which artist produced it.

Original link

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Present Context

For Reflection

The baptism of Jesus has always been problematic for the church : what does Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist say about Jesus? John called for a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins... yet wasn't Jesus the sinless one?

Note that Jesus regarded his baptism as his ordination to ministry:
"Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptised with the baptism I am baptised with?" - Mark 10:38

"But I have a baptism to undergo and how distressed I am until it is completed!" - Luke 12:50

The gospel writers recorded events in Jesus' life to encourage the church in its mission: we who have followed Jesus through the waters of baptism have also taken on this vow to death: a death that brings life:

How much more then will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse (=baptise) our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God?! - Hebrews 9:14

It was the life of ministry (to death) which Jesus lived which gave meaning to his baptism. So may our lives also reflect the meaning of these waters.

We pray:
Jesus came to serve in order to save. We have been saved by Christ in order that we might serve. God help us to live in ways which reflect the servant and sacrificial heart of Jesus. Teach us also to live for others.

Amen.