by Elaine Pierce
I've always found this passage confusing. Certainly John was right - Jesus should baptize him, not the other way around! And yet, after Jesus says "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness," John consents. And I'm sure you've all seen artists' renderings of this scene: Jesus coming up out of the water, and the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and the voice from heaven saying, "This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased."
Have you ever noticed what happens right after this stirring event? Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil (see Matthew 4). After this life-changing baptism, Jesus has to face temptation that would be very, very difficult to resist. He has just had an encounter with his Father, and now it seems that he is left to fight against an evil foe, who tempts him with visions of power if only he will renounce God.
Jesus was prepared for this temptation because of his baptism. He knew that the father was well pleased with him. He was steeped in the scripture, and he knew that earthly power and prestige was fleeting. So let it be for us when we face adversity, and face it we will. Prepare yourself for times of trial, because they will come. Spend time with the Lord, and hold fast to what you know to be true.
John was obedient, even though it seemed to him that he was not worthy to baptize Jesus. You may not see the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, but take heart: draw near to him, and he will draw near to you.
Thank you, Lord, for examples like John, who obeyed you even though he didn't understand your plan. So often I want to grab the map and tell you how to find the destination. Help me to put the map in your hands, and to accept your guidance and direction. You will get me to the right place, and it will be a good place. Help me, a day at a time, to grow more like you. Amen.