God’s Beloved Child(ren)

January 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

January 6 is known in the Christian world as the Christian feast day of Epiphany, and the baptism of Jesus (among other things) is typically commemorated on this day (for a short summary of the history and meaning of Epiphany, click here).  In Matthew 3:13-17, the baton is passed from the old era of promise to the new era of fulfillment with John’s baptism of Jesus.  At first, John tries to prevent Jesus’ baptism just as Peter later on would try to prevent Jesus’ death on a cross (see 16:22).  Neither makes sense of course from a human perspective, and at least John recognizes that he is rather the one in need of Jesus’ greater baptism of Spirit and fire (3:11) than Jesus would be in need of John’s baptism of repentance.  The real focus in Jesus’ baptism though is on God’s divine pronouncement from heaven, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased” (3:17).  This is the first of only two texts in Matthew in which God speaks directly as a character in the story.  The other one is at the Transfiguration of Jesus in 17:5.  And the words in these two texts are almost exactly the same!  These words represent the affirmation from God that Jesus is indeed the Son of God.  The revelation of Jesus’ divine sonship starts with his baptism.  We too receive God’s Spirit and are identified as God’s beloved children at our baptism so that God’s plan might be fulfilled in us and through us.  On this day of commemorating Jesus’ baptism, let us all celebrate our baptismal identity in Christ and pray for the fulfillment of His purposes in and through us.

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