Today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord which officially ends the Christmas season. You will notice in your local church all the poinsettias, manger scenes and lights gone as we enter ordinary time. You also may wonder why this feast is so important and why Jesus needed it if, he were without original sin. I will share with you a little of what I’ve learned about Jesus’ baptism through the writings and biblical reflections of Tim Gray in his book “The Luminous Mysteries.” It was at the Jordan River that Joshua lead the Israelites out of the desert and as the priests touched the water it stopped flowing, allowing them to cross safely with the ark of the covenant. The river then became a symbol of the end of their wandering and the beginning of their new promised land. The location of the Jordan was very symbolic and important for Jesus baptism.
Elijah also has a history at the Jordan where he was taken up to heaven by a chariot that came down from heaven and swept him up in a whirlwind leaving only his staff behind for Elisha to take his place as a prophet. He parted the waters as the priests did with Joshua. This encounter at the Jordan is a parallel of the end of Elijah’s mission and the beginning of Elisha’s which had triple the power in works of the Lord, as Jesus baptism signified the end of John the Baptist’s mission and the beginning of Jesus with more than triple the works.
At Jesus baptism He was being anointed by the prophet and the Holy Spirit as King, this is such an important and sacred anointing that it required a prophet. This is why John the Baptist asked Jesus if he were the “Christ” relating him with kingship. Immediately following Jesus’ baptism he begins his public ministry. Tim Gray also notes, “that Jesus claims the Spirit is upon Him because He has been “anointed.” Thus, Luke clearly shows us that Jesus interprets His baptism as an anointing in the Spirit-an anointing that sends Jesus forth on His royal messianic mission.”
This is why our baptism is so important for us, because we die and rise through the waters of baptism with Christ. As Tim Gray puts it,” At Jesus’ baptism, He is anointed the Christ- the Lord’s Anointed One. At our baptism, we also are anointed with the Holy Spirit, and this too marks our identity. We are not called Christians simply because we try to follow Christ, but rather we are called Christians because we are anointed ones. We are anointed with God’s Holy Spirit at baptism so that we can be empowered by the grace of the Spirit to follow Jesus. The mystery of Jesus’ baptism contains profound light—not just to find our way, but moreover, to find our identity in Christ—so that we too can cry out daily, “Abba! Father!
Here is a little clip about our baptism to enjoy.