On the liturgical calendar, the baptism of Jesus is traditionally commemorated on the second Sunday of Epiphany.
Reading from Matthew chapter 3:13-15
13 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. 14 But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?”15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
The gospel narratives of Jesus tell us almost nothing of his adult life until this moment at age thirty when he proclaims a giant shift in his life – transition is now – and he commemorates this new season with the powerful symbol of water baptism.
In his spirit, John the Baptist must have sensed the divine authority in Jesus, because he intuitively knew – “I don’t need to baptize you, you need to baptize me!”
Then Jesus answers John’s objection directly.
“Allow me to be baptized now. This is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.” Matthew 3:15
Just as he later had to die on the cross, Jesus chose to be baptized. Why?
Well there is a Jewish ritual cleansing ceremony call the mikvah. I actually first heard of this when we were in Israel.
In Jewish tradition, the Mikvah is a ritual bath used for ceremonial purification and to prepare for special occasions like marriage according to the Torah. Converts to Judaism are required to undergo full immersion in water. In the mikvah, immersion represents death and resurrection. When one comes back out of the water, he comes back to life as a new creation.
For Yeshua, immersion was symbolic of a transition in His life, the beginning of His ministry. His baptism said “the time is now”.
Jesus, pure and sinless, submitted to this rite of purification as an act of obedience to His heavenly Father and example for us to follow.
He taught in John 3:3-5 that one must be born again, of the water and the spirit.
He led by example and practiced what He preached.
He left us with these instructions:
Go into all the world and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19
He also imparted to his disciples that baptism was a crucial hinge to discipleship.
Peter made it clear in Acts 2 “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38.
The gift of the Holy Spirit!
Martin Luther understood how powerful baptism was, and when he was depressed and full of doubts, he would say to himself – “remember your baptism, remember your baptism”
Remember you have died with Christ, your sins were buried, you’ve been born again, you are a new creation, as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed your transgressions. You can arise again with a brand new start, full of hope in God, His mercies are new every morning. Every time you remember your baptism, you can say this is the power of Christ in me.
So my friends, if you’ve been baptized, then remember your baptism! And if you’ve not been water baptized, then what are you waiting for?
He’ll give you a clean start.
Father we thank you so much for this powerful sacrament and symbol of baptism that you have given us in the name of Yeshua – the God who saves. Lord I pray that you would bring about a conversion our hearts first, and then it would be sealed with the living waters of your son and in the name the power of the father the son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
Daily Worship Devotionals is a 5-minute podcast dedicated to studying the Word of God and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. Currently, we are following the Christian year calendar as our framework. We’re in the season of Epiphany – the Season of Light and exploring the early life of Christ.