B Cycle – Baptism of the Lord 17
Mk. 1: 7-11
This is my son in whom I am well pleased. A father’s impact on his children is well documented by scientific studies. A father’s lack of interaction, praise, affirmation or love contributes to his children having a lack of trust, an inability to open themselves to others and a driving need for approval that manifest itself in a fear of failure. We all need to be validated, loved, treasured and if that need is not met by our father, we will seek to satisfy this need elsewhere.
Jesus tells us “no one knows the Son but the Father and no one knows the Father but the Son” (Mt.11:27). Based on those words, we can safely say Jesus had an intimate relationship with his father. So why did God proclaim, “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased?” We know from this gospel the people there at the Jordan that day were from Jerusalem, all Judea and all the district from around the Jordan. We also know the scribes and the Pharisees were there and were being chastised by John when suddenly Jesus enters the water to be baptized by John.
After his baptism God’s words came down from heaven declaring he was pleased with Jesus. Was God speaking to everyone there that day or was it something only heard by Jesus?
The truth is we do not know but what we do know the scriptures are given to us to reveal the heart of God and his plan for us. We also know they provide us a definitive means to live a life pleasing to him. Is it possible that the human Jesus needed the Fathers affirmation as much as we need a father’s affirmation? If that were true, why would God wait for this moment to affirm his only begotten son? I believe those words were meant for us, so we would take them to heart.
They are for us, scripture was inspired by God for us, not the crowds at the Jordan that day and not for Jesus. God is reaffirming the mission of Jesus to redeem us. God is telling us to pay attention to Jesus and to everything Jesus did and said from his baptism by John to his ascension back to the Father. From that day to Calvary everything Jesus recorded in the scriptures has to do with God’s plan for our restoration.
I think back to the day my own children left our home for college and I remember telling them how proud I was of them. Pleased with how well they had lived their life up to that point and I knew they would continue to make me proud as they began the journey to fulfill their destiny in life. I told them I was proud to be their father and I would be with them even though they would be away at college, I would be with them. Jesus was at the beginning of his mission to restore our glory, so we could live lives pleasing to God, and we know God was always with him.
God does know the human heart and his words that day at the Jordan are pointed to Calvary where God’s plan to restore our position as sons and daughters was accomplished by the willingness of Jesus to do the Father’s will.
Is God pleased more by our being obedient to the law or by our willingness to die to self so that we might become the sons and daughters God has created us to become? We have been baptized but there is something that we have not appropriated from our own baptism in order to be pleasing to God. We have not appropriated the grace of baptism, the transforming power of the Spirit to become disciples.
Jesus was clear, John the Baptist was clear, Paul the Apostle was clear when they said we need to move from just being faithful to the law, becoming modern day Pharisees, to relying on the Spirit to change our hearts, so we faithfully follow God’s will because we love God not fear God.
Jesus, in the upper room the night before he died, tells us how the Spirit will be our guide to living a life pleasing God. John the Baptist tells us we must move beyond our initial baptism to seeking the baptism of Spirit and Fire. Paul the apostle tells us we need a rebirth and a renewal by having the Holy Spirit poured upon us.
This gospel story is about what we must do to be pleasing to God. The Pharisees were not pleasing to God although they followed the law perfectly. The crowds seeking John’s baptism were being told their baptism was the first step in discipleship, more is needed – they needed to seek the cleansing fire of God and of the Holy Spirit to move them from repentance to living the gospel.
Jesus’ life in Nazareth was pleasing to God. We know his life after his baptism by John was pleasing to God. We know by his life and death he removed the barrier of sin between God and ourselves so that we would be changed and have a clear understanding of what is pleasing to God.