Jesus’ Baptism
  • Sunday, January 12, 2014

1 Epiphany

Isa. 42:1-9Ps. 29Acts 10:34-43Matt. 3:13-17

“When faith speaks of creation, and in so doing directs its eye toward God, then it can only say that God created the world perfect” (Gerhard Von Rad, Genesis; comment on Gen. 1:31). But then, of course, the fall and the expulsion, murder, and flood tell the tale of a disordered world groaning for redemption. And yet, looking upon the elect nation, again and again God would see “my servant, whom I behold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights” (Isa. 42: 1). In the fullness of time, what was said of the nation contracted to a brilliant and blazing point directed from the heart of the Father into the being of the incarnate Son. “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

As chosen witnesses, those who ate and drank with the Lord Jesus after he was raised from the dead, we find our lives enfolded in his (Acts 10: 41). So, in sharp contrast to the loud and violent voices of religion, we discover in ourselves an apophatic stillness and a refusal to add insult to the world’s injuries. “He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and dimly burning wick he will not quench” (Isa. 42:2-3). We discover in ourselves — but only as a gift imputed to us and infused — calm resolve. “He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice” (Isa. 42:4). Strangely, quietness and peacefulness seem to roar with inexpressible power. “The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is upon the mighty waters” (Ps. 29:3).

Although John would have prevented him, Jesus goes into the mighty waters. He that knew no sin became sin on our behalf. He took upon himself a cleansing he did not need, he himself being the source of all life and renewal. He became what we are in order that we might become what he is. He is calm and peaceful and powerful. He is mighty to save. O Admirabile Commercium. Oh, the wonderful mystery of his life flowing into ours, so that what is said of him is said of us. We all go down to the waters. We are buried. We rise. And we hear these words: “You are my son, my beloved, the one in whom I am pleased.”

What has happened to us in Christ? “He who descends with faith into this pool of renewal, renounces the devil and adheres to Christ; he relinquishes the enemy, and confesses Christ to be God; he takes off servitude, and puts on adoption; he returns from baptism radiant as the sun, shining with rays of justice, and, in truth, the greatest of all, he returns a son of God and a co-heir of Christ” (Sermon on the Epiphany attributed to St. Hippolytus, priest).

Returning from the font radiant and clean and new, let us not forget the wonder of this sacred moment. “God put a good mind into us and reformed one great fault in us: which is, that our Baptism being past over a great while ago, we cast it out of our memory, and meditate but little upon the benefits and the comforts of it. … The whole life of a Christian man and woman should be a continual reflection how in Baptism we entered into covenant with Christ, ‘to believe in Him, to serve Him, to forsake the devil, the vanities of the world, and all sinful desires of the flesh’” (John Hacket, n. 179 in Anglicanism, ed. More and Cross).

Look It Up
Read Acts 10:36. Are we preaching peace by Jesus Christ?

Think About It
Pass not over your baptism.

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