Is it important to remember your baptism? Let us examine history’s most important baptism and see some relevant lessons for our own baptism. We will look at Luke 3:15-22 and the baptism of Jesus.
How is the Messiah Different? John the Baptizer explained three distinctions1 of the Messiah. 1) He would be more powerful. 2) John said that he was not even worthy to perform essentially a slave’s task for the Messiah. John’s attitude was not the feigned humility of polite company, but the genuine self-assessment of a man honest enough to face the truth of our weak human condition. Perhaps that is one of many reasons why Jesus’ description of John was that in his brutal honesty about self was true greatness (John 7:28). Compare that to the boasting of politicians and the pretentiousness of the elite. 3) The Messiah would baptize very differently to John. Christ’s is a baptism with the Holy Spirit (wind) and fire.
Is the Winnowing Over? Did John the Baptist indicate that the winnowing process was already over? The only thing left to do seemed to be clearing the threshing floor, gathering the wheat and burning the chaff. Was John saying that his ministry was the winnowing and that Jesus’ ministry finishes the task? Is there an expectation of imminent judgment by Jesus in John the Baptist’s preaching? As we explore the ministry of Jesus, we discover that judgment, while it may begin with our response to Jesus’ first coming, will not take place until his second coming. The discussion here leaves us with a couple of questions. When and how will the judgment take place? For partial answers to those questions, we must look elsewhere.
What did Jesus’ Baptism Mean? The Bible does not tell us how Jesus was baptized, but Luke points out three important things. 1) Heaven was opened, 2) the Holy Spirit descended and 3) a voice came. These things occurred after Jesus’ baptism while he was praying. The Holy Spirit descended like a dove. In a Bible where the words of Jesus are in red, let us not forget the voice of God the Father who declared Jesus as his Son. Reminiscent of Isaiah 42:1 Luke writes that God is well-pleased with his Son, Jesus. We might say that we are proud of a son. Pride can be misunderstood as a wrong attitude, pridefulness. God uses a much better word, well-pleased, unmistakably a positive emotion.
What Did Origen Believe about Baptism? Origen was born around 184. At 17 his father was murdered for his faith. His mother hid his clothes, preventing Origen from going to die with his father. The government confiscated the family’s assets, forcing Origin to support younger siblings. He became the Church’s first theologian. Origen taught literal and allegorical interpretations of the Bible. In 250 Emperor Decius imprisoned and tortured him. Origen subsequently died at age 69. In his life he produced perhaps 6,000 separate writings. His famous comment on baptism was, “The Church received from the apostles the tradition of giving baptism even to infants. The apostles… knew there are in everyone innate strains of sin, which must be washed away through water and the Spirit”
What did Maximus Teach about Christ’s Baptism? Ancient bishop Maximus wrote of Jesus’ baptism, “At Christmas he was born a man; today he is reborn sacramentally… When he was born a man, his mother Mary held him close to her heart; when he is born in mystery, God the Father embraces him with his voice when he says: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: listen to him… The mother holds the child for the Magi to adore; the Father reveals that his Son is to be worshiped by all the nations… Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and …when the Savior is washed all water for our baptism is made clean…”
Let us remember our baptism, the importance of being in prayer and our anointing by the Holy Spirit.
References: Green, Joel B. NICNT. The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids, Mich. W.B. Eerdmans. 1997.; Exegetical Notes by Brian Stoffregen at crossmarks.com/brian/; Origen. Commentaries on Romans 5:9 [A.D. 248]; Maximus. Sermo 100, de sancta Epiphania 1, 3: CCL 23, 398-400.