THE BAPTISM(S) OF THE LORD
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately fromthe water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Mt 3: 13-17)
Christ was yet to be baptized (immersed) in the “baptism” of His death-and-resurrection (cf. His question to James and John: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Mk 10: 38b). But before He made His way to that, our “new” kind of baptism, He subjected Himself to the “old” baptism of John, in which we, His people, are immersed before receiving the fullness of His redemptive works for us. John’s baptism is our baptism “in water for repentance” (Mt 3: 11a), in which we confess our sins and turn away from them. It “prepares the way of the Lord,” and “makes His paths straight” in our hearts for receiving His new kind of baptism, “with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mt 3: 3b, 11b)
As those of us on the Older Calendar celebrate the Baptism of the Lord today, I’m thinking that we continue, on our cross-carrying journeys, to be immersed in both baptisms – the one in the “water” of our tears “for repentance,” and the one in the now-sanctified, by Christ’s immersion in it, water, filled “with the Holy Spirit and fire.” So let me open my heart to the fire of the Holy Spirit today, by confessing my sins and making the positive change that is “repentance” (or “metanoia” in Greek, which means “a change of mind” or a “change of focus”). Thank You, Lord, for being baptized with the baptism that we are baptized with, and showing us the Way to new life in You.