Why was Jesus baptized
Back in 2001 when I was still a creative, under 40 priest, I made the above fake tabloid cover to illustrate a sermon on tomorrow's Gospel reading. The idea was that Jesus' baptism should have been controversial with Christians. After all, John the Baptist was baptizing "for the forgiveness of sin" and Jesus was the sinless one. In the sermon Bethlehem Star Baptized for Sin I said that we do get the voice from heaven telling us that God was pleased with Jesus' baptism and went on to say,
Why was God pleased? What was Jesus doing in that water anyway? Jesus went to the river for the forgiveness of Sin. Just as a newborn infant, who has surely not sinned, is baptized for forgiveness of Sin, so too was Jesus baptized. Not because of sins, the many little sinful actions of our lives in which we turn ourselves away from God, but because of Sin. Sin is the main root cause of all the other sins....The full text of the sermon is online here: Bethlehem Star Baptized for Sin
Being born into this world turned from God, meant that Jesus should one day make a decisive break from that Sin. The moment for this came at the start of his earthly ministry. Jesus entered the water and was baptized as an outward sign of the inward action of God lovingly washing away the effects of Sin, the sinful state of a world turned from God. Even the Sinless One knew that he must wash away the Sin of a world turned away from God in order to more fully receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then with the full anointing of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was ready to begin his ministry.
We too live in a world turned from God. People are created good, in the image of God, made for a life lived connected with God and with each other. Yet we live in a world which is fundamentally disconnected. People are disconnected from God, from each other, and from nature. Human life is no longer what it was created to be. But it’s never too late. Each of us can make a fundamental turn away from a world lived apart from God toward a world lived in connection to God and through that we connect more fully with each other....
Through baptism, we make the story of Jesus our own story. We do as Jesus did. In obedience to God we pray for the stain of a world turned from God to be washed away. The Holy Spirit comes to give us the grace and strength to live out this new life.
Tonight at 5 p.m., Bishop Louttit will be on hand as we will welcome Mary Newsum into Christ's body, the church, through baptism. Then we'll have the Burning of the Greens with Low Country Boil and Oyster Roast at 6 p.m. And tomorrow the Bishop will still be with us as Maxwell Goodwin is baptized. These services will offer all of us a chance to reaffirm the commitments made in our baptisms.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor