Baptism of the Lord (First Sunday in Ordinary Time): Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Matthew 3:13-17
Let us bring Christ to the nations. Let us serve the Lord in the power of the Spirit.
‘Here is My Servant, whom I uphold, my Chosen One in whom I delight; I will put My Spirit on Him, and He will bring justice to the nations’ (Isaiah 42:1). These words turn our thoughts towards the Lord Jesus Christ. At His baptism, we hear the voice of the Father – ‘This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased’. At His baptism, we see ‘the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on Him’. Jesus is the fulfilment of God’s Word of prophecy: ‘All mankind shall see the Saviour sent from God’. After His resurrection, we hear Jesus Himself speaking. He says, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit…’ (Matthew 12:15-21; 3:16-17; 28:18-20; Luke 3:6). Let us bring Christ to the nations. Let us serve the Lord in the power of the Spirit.
Every person in every nation in each succeeding generation …
‘When the Holy Spirit comes on you… you will be My witnesses… to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). This great advance of the Gospel – Salvation reaches ‘the Gentiles’ (Acts 10:45; Acts 11:1,18) – is a movement of ‘the Spirit’ (Acts 11:12). The Spirit speaks through the Word (Acts 10:44; Acts 11:15). In God’s Word, we read of (a) God’s love for the whole world (John 3:16); (b) God’s Son who died for ‘the sins of the whole world’ (John 1:29; 1 John 2:2); (c) God’s command that ‘the Good News’ should be preached to ‘everyone’ (Mark 16:15); (d) God’s purpose that there should be disciples of Christ in every nation (Matthew 28:19). ‘Every person in every nation, in each succeeding generation, has the right to hear the News that Christ can save… Here am I, send me’ (Youth Praise, 128). ‘Go forth and tell!’ (Mission Praise, 178).
Christ died for us. The Spirit lives in us.
Considering the contrast between Jesus and John – John is not fit to carry Christ’s sandals (Matthew 3:11) – , it is quite remarkable that Jesus submits Himself to baptism by John. Why does He do this? Jesus gives us the reason in Matthew 3:15 – ‘it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness’. When Jesus uses the word ‘proper’ (or fitting), does He use it to mean ‘according to convention’? No – He means that ‘it is fitting’ into God’s perfect plan of salvation. It is part of His perfect obedience to the Father. It is part of what is involved in His giving Himself for us as ‘the Righteous for the unrighteous to bring us to God’ (1 Peter 3:18). As well as directing us to the Cross, Jesus’ baptism directs us to Pentecost – the descent of the Spirit (Matthew 3:16; Acts 2:1-4). Christ died for us. The Spirit lives in us. Jesus ‘fits’ our need perfectly!