Every so often we all get those “AHA” moments. All of a sudden we get it. What seemed beyond comprehension, we now understand. What we couldn’t recognize has now become obvious. These times when the light bulb goes on we call an epiphany. In the church, this is the season called ‘Epiphany.’ The readings assigned are to help us have one of those “AHA” moments about Jesus. The reading for this Sunday is the baptism of Jesus.
The first couple chapters of Matthew have given us some background with a genealogy, Joseph’s struggling with the news of Mary’s pregnancy, the Magi, Herod’s desire to kill the baby Jesus and the family fleeing to Egypt for refuge. Now with the adult Jesus being baptized by John at the Jordan river we read Jesus’ first words, “…it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
Righteousness is a relationship word. The word carries with it the understanding of fidelity and promise keeping. If we call a relationship “right”, it is because falsehood has not found a place. So when Jesus was baptized by John (a baptism in preparation for welcoming the coming of God’s reign), righteousness was being fulfilled. God was keeping the promise of establishing his reign over a rebellious world. God was bringing salvation from darkness. As Jesus came out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove with a heavenly voice saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” These words were for the bystanders and for us to have that “AHA” moment.
The search continues to find the savior bringing us salvation. We look to business leaders, celebrities and politics but they don’t bring God’s righteousness. So often we are left with those serving only their own interests or who leave us in the darkness of our greed, animosity, division and struggle for power. This is not salvation. Righteousness is not experienced.
The companion verses from Isaiah 42:1-9 has God declaring his servant…in whom God delights…on whom the Spirit will rest. This chosen servant of God will not be a braggart or crush the life of someone barely holding on to life. He will bring justice (another relationship word). He will be a light: for the nations to recognize the darkness…for us in our blindness…to bring freedom to those in the prison of darkness. Upon this one alone will God’s glory reside. Upon this chosen one, God’s righteousness toward us is fulfilled.
Jesus was baptized by John and as he came out of the water the Holy Spirit like a dove descended on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”