Text study – Matthew 3:13-17 (The baptism of Jesus)

"the one thing that encourages me in this whole thing is seeing how deeply vested we all are in the church and her practices. Everybody contributing to this discussion here and on other blogs are doing so because we care so deeply. That is a very good thing!" (Luther Punk)

Well said…and yes…thank you for all the energy and wonderful dialog around the issue of lay presidency.  I am by no means cutting off or finished with this lively and healthy dialog.  There is definitely some deep seeded beliefs about lay presidency.  I do see what Luther Punk is saying about calling and gifts and I will be exploring that some more, but right now it doesn’t change my belief about lay presidency.  The openness that has been shown is quite amazing and and for that I am thankful.

But now I would like to move to the Gospel text for Sunday from Matthew 3:13-17 and maybe get into a discussion about the other sacrament — baptism.  According the the lectionary, this Sunday (January 13) is called "The Baptism of our Lord".  Since Epiphany is about revealing who Jesus is the text seems very appropriate as God announces from heaven after Jesus is baptized, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17)

But the questions I want to ponder are ones that always seem to come up when we deal with the text about Jesus being baptized.  The questions are this:  Why did Jesus have to be baptized? and When Jesus says that this must be done to fulfill all righteousness…what does he mean by "all righteousness?  Both are very good questions and of course I have my own thoughts about what is going on.  And…has always…feel free to "correct" me if you feel I am "wrong" 🙂

When I think about baptism I go back to Romans 6 where Paul says that "if we have been united with him in a death like his we will certainly be untied with him in a resurrection like his."  Baptism here then is about being identified with Jesus or joined to Jesus.  Therefore, since we are identified with Jesus; what is his is now ours…not because of anything we have done but because Jesus first identified with us.

Now to Jesus’ baptism…

…if John’s baptism was for repentance for the forgiveness of sins, then why did Jesus need to be baptized?  Jesus was sinless and had no need to repent.  The way I see it is that by being baptized Jesus identified himself with sinners.  If Jesus was going to bring us to righteousness, he needed to identify with sinners…he needed to identify with us.  And because Jesus identifies with sinners Jesus understands very intimately what we need.  Jesus understands what must be done.  Jesus understands that he must die and rise so we can live.  So therefore it all comes down to identification.

What do you think of that?  What are your thoughts?  (Of course I still invite you thoughts on the issue of lay presidency which is posted below.)

Thank you again for you contributions and I look forward to many more lively conversations.  Take care and God bless!

-edh-