God With Us Through Baptism
First Sunday of Epiphany
Archbishop Loren Thomas Hines
January 12, 2020
Readings: Isaiah 42: 1 – 9
Acts 10: 34 – 38
Matthew 3: 13 – 17
God’s love and favor were manifested to us by sending His own Son to take upon flesh, becoming one with man, going to the cross, destroying sin and setting us free. Jesus was showing us humility and obedience to the Father. He shed off royalty, and went thru the process of becoming one with us.
The Gospel reading today gives us an account of Jesus going to the river Jordan in Galilee to be baptized. He knew where John was and He knew the purpose of why He went. He approached John to ask him to baptize Him but John was hesitant because in his heart it was Jesus who was supposed to baptize him. John’s proclamation of who Jesus was is just an affirmation of long ago when he was still inside his mother’s womb. He had not been born yet but he already recognized the baby that Mary was carrying inside her womb because he was leaping for joy. He knew that even inside the womb, the child was already destined by God to do great things. He already recognized who Jesus was. He was literally telling us that as Christians, what we are, what we claim to be we must do.
1 Timothy 4:16 Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and those who hear you.
Baptism is a declaration of dependence; a declaration of cleansing. Jesus in essence was saying, he needed cleansing. He was practicing what he preached. He was teaching about righteousness and so He had to prove that He was by the act of immersing Himself in water to be cleansed. Christ was showing us humility. He was one with God and yet he became a child, and went thru the same process as man did. He obeyed the Father by becoming flesh so that He could identify with us. For 30 years, He was learning the things of God, studying scriptures, and then applying what He learned in His very life. It was said that when He came out of the water, the heavens opened, a dove descended, and a voice was saying, “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus lived with His parents in a humble home. He was trained to be a carpenter. He had to work. If we want to receive the favor of God, we need to obey Him. By becoming one with Him, He gives us favor. The Holy Spirit descending is a declaration that new life begins. Our life begins with baptism. The newness of life begins when we come into covenant with God. This identity with Him brings new life. Old things have passed away, behold all things are new.
We should not give up, no matter what we are facing. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he. If he constantly thinks failure, that he cannot do it, then he won’t be able to accomplish things. We should be encouraging people who may not be in the same spiritual level as we are to not give up. To not lose hope
Isaiah 42:1 “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.”
Spiritual cleansing takes away the evil. Jesus came not to destroy but to rebuild, to restore all things back to Him. In the flesh we may be limited, but when the Spirit comes, we are able to do great things. God has blessed us with all things in the spiritual places.
The power of baptism is the beginning of righteousness. We have God’s favor everyday when we recognize the power of baptism. God gave us the breath of life. If we obey God, we have His favor. We need the cleansing. The beauty of the new life gives us power. And it begins with baptism.