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The Spirit descends upon the Father’s beloved Son
Author Don Schwager – Scripture: Mark 1:7-11 [alternate readings: Luke 3:23-38, or Matthew 2:1-12 for the Feast of Epiphany]
7 And he [John the Baptist] preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 9. In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; 11 and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Meditation: Why did Jesus, the Sinless One, submit himself to John’s baptism? John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3) – of which Jesus had no need. However, in this humble submission we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of his bloody death upon the cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering Servant (Isaiah 53). He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners. Jesus submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will. Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. Do you know the joy of trust and submission to God?
The Father proclaimed his entire delight in his Son and spoke audibly for all to hear. The Holy Spirit, too, was present as he anointed Jesus for his ministry which began that day as he rose from the waters of the Jordan River. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all who come to believe in him. At his baptism the heavens were opened and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, signifying the beginning of a new creation.
How can we enter into the mystery of Jesus’ humble self-abasement and baptism? Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390 AD), an early church father tells us:
“Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him.”
Do you want to see your life transformed by the love and power of Jesus Christ? And do you want to become a more effective instrument of the Gospel of peace, mercy, and righteousness? Examine Jesus’ humility and ask the Holy Spirit to forge this same attitude in your heart. As you do, heaven will open for you as well. The Lord Jesus is ever ready to renew us in his Holy Spirit and to anoint us for mission. We are called to be “light” and “salt” to those around us. The Lord wants his love and truth to shine through us that others may see the goodness and truth of God’s message of salvation. Ask the Lord Jesus to fill you with his Holy Spirit that you may radiate the joy of the Gospel to those around you.
“Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and inflame my heart with the joy of the Gospel. May I find joy in seeking to please you just as you found joy in seeking to please your Father.”
12 Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem! Praise your God, O Zion!
13 For he strengthens the bars of your gates; he blesses your sons within you.
14 He makes peace in your borders; he fills you with the finest of the wheat.
15 He sends forth his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.
16 He gives snow like wool; he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
17 He casts forth his ice like morsels; who can stand before his cold?
18 He sends forth his word, and melts them; he makes his wind blow, and the waters flow.
19 He declares his word to Jacob, his statutes and ordinances to Israel.
20 He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his ordinances. Praise the LORD!
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: The divine – human reconciliation, attributed to Hippolytus, 170-236 A.D.
“Do you see, beloved, how many and how great blessings we would have lost if the Lord had yielded to the exhortation of John and declined baptism? For the heavens had been shut before this. The region above was inaccessible. We might descend to the lower parts, but not ascend to the upper. So it happened not only that the Lord was being baptized – he also was making new the old creation. He was bringing the alienated under the scepter of adoption (Romans 8:15). For straightway ‘the heavens were opened to him.’ A reconciliation took place between the visible and the invisible. The celestial orders were filled with joy, the diseases of earth were healed, secret things made known, those at enmity restored to amity. For you have heard the word of the Evangelist, saying, ‘The heavens were opened to him,’ on account of three wonders [appearance of the eternal Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together at the baptism]. At the baptism of Christ the Bridegroom, it was fitting that the heavenly chamber should open its glorious gates. So when the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove, and the Father’s voice spread everywhere, it was fitting that ‘the gates of heaven should be lifted up.'” (excerpt from THE DISCOURSE ON THE HOLY THEOPHANY 6)
Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright (c) 2018 Servants of the Word, source: www.dailyscripture.net, Author Don Schwager
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.