Podcast Reflections

Reflection on Matthew 3.13-17 (Baptism of Christ, Year A)

Listen to a reflection for 8 January on Matthew 3.13-17 (Baptism of Christ, Year A)

Matthew 3.13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, 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 it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’ 


A voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’

Every time we recite the Nicene Creed, the affirmation of faith that we use in our services of Holy Communion, we say these words: We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ … begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through him all things were made. In these powerful words we declare our belief that Jesus has been in a constant relationship with his Heavenly Father since the very beginning of all things. Similarly, in our carol services, we traditionally hear these words from the beginning of John’s gospel: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. he was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. Once again we are hearing of the reality of the intimate relationship that has existed between Jesus and God the Father since the beginning of time, a relationship that will continue to exist when our mortal world has ceased to be. As Jesus is baptized in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, we join John in witnessing the moment when the voice of God affirms this relationship as his Beloved Son begins his earthly ministry.

Two thousand years after Jesus entered into the totality of the human experience we might wonder why we need to be reminded of this moment, when so many other, greater things are to take place. If this thought has occurred to you, I would urge you to reflect upon Jesus’ words to John: Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.

We live in an age in which we try to do things as quickly as possible. People expend a considerable amount of energy seeking those shortcuts which will ‘make their lives easier’, that will make tasks less demanding. Such shortcuts might seem worthwhile for the more mundane matters that pre-occupy so much of our time, but they do not serve us well when it comes to matters of faith. The totality of Jesus’ earthly incarnation was foretold through the ancient mouthpieces of God, the prophets. The words of the prophets were sacred because they were messages from God to humanity. Jesus recognized their importance, something he demonstrated by insisting that he, the Son of God, should be baptised by John, just like all the others who had heard and responded to John’s message. In this humble act, and in his humble words, Jesus showed us how we should proceed in living out our calling to be faithful disciples. There are no shortcuts that will place us in the fast lane of spiritual enlightenment. The life of discipleship is one that demands our obedience, our humility and our willingness to follow the path that was trod by Jesus himself.

So often, we look for the easy way. But, the path of faith is never easy because, as we travel that path, we will encounter the snares and temptations of the devil himself. To remain true to God demands our patience and forbearance. Let us pray that we might remain steadfast in our commitment to be true to the all that our faith in God asks of us, even if we believe there might be an easier route to follow. Let us pray that we might set aside our human arrogance and trust in the guidance God gives us, rather than being tempted to take the apparently easier path, the one that will lead us into the power of evil and not righteousness.