Church of England Diocese of Birmingham Frankley

Special, Loved, Accepted and Forgiven

10 Jan 2021, 2:30 a.m.

The baptism of Jesus was a light bulb moment for John and possibly for Jesus himself.

When we become Christians, Jesus identifies with us in our humanity and enables us to identify with him in his divinity.

It reminds us of truths which will encourage us in these dark times. We need to repent, the heavens have been rent open and God has come down to us and dwells with us, God loves us and we are his children and he baptises us with his Holy Spirit.

Both Jesus and John the Baptist preached repentance. We repent of our sins to receive forgiveness and to make room for Jesus in our lives, so his love and Holy Spirit can fill us.

When we reflect his light and holiness within our lives we attract others to him and nurture loving communities that are not selfish and proud. Repentance is contrary to our society which has rejected the boundaries put on them in previous generations and where those who admit they have failed are often seen as weak.

Jesus humbled himself by being baptised in the River Jordan by John and calls us to be humble. When we are being self righteous prigs we lose our humanity and pretend we are better than we are.

Baptism is a symbol of cleansing, of leaving the sin behind and enjoying a new start. It is about dying to the old and rising to the new. Paul said, “You also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”

We are cleansed, healed and made whole through Jesus and joined to him in baptism.

Powerful though John’s baptism of repentance was the ministry of Jesus and the baptism he has brought is more powerful. John pointed to one more powerful than him.

John’s preaching caused people to do something about cleaning up their lives and putting things right. The baptism that Jesus brings enables us to live Christ like lives through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus didn’t do away with John’s baptism. He was baptized by John and affirmed what he was doing. Although he knew no sin, he identified with us sinners in our suffering and death.

When Jesus came out of the water God the Father revealed his son to the world. The heavens were torn apart. Torn is a strangely violent word to describe such a happy occasion. It describes that moment on Good Friday when the curtain of the temple was torn in two at the moment Jesus died on the cross. It's the answer to Isaiah’s prayer, "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down," (Isaiah 63:19).

In Jesus, God has torn open the heavens and come down. God cannot stand the separation between what happens in heaven and what happens on earth any longer any longer. We are able to experience something of the glory and power of heaven as we share in God’s kingdom now.

Baptism symbolises dying and rising. In baptism, Jesus submitted himself to dying for us so we might share in his death and resurrection.

We need to see God working amongst us at this time. Vaccines against COVID 19 have been developed unusually quickly. Maybe they are a sign of God moving among us.

The Holy Spirit descended like a dove on Jesus as the Spirit descended on the early church at Pentecost. Whilst John baptised in water, Jesus baptises us, (fully immerses us) in the Holy Spirit.

The Ephesian disciples of John illustrate this difference. They had been baptised by John but had never heard of the Holy Spirit or of how they could be united with Jesus. When they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, Paul laid his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came upon them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

If we ask Jesus to baptise us with the Holy Spirit he will. He enables and empowers us to live the life of Christ in our generation and bring love and healing to a broken world.

The Holy Spirit unites us with Jesus, with Christians throughout the world and the community of heaven, uniting us in one community.

Jesus hears the voice of His heavenly Father, encouraging him. “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Wrapped in these words of acceptance are the blessings of identity, worth, and unwavering regard. We need to hear those words from the Father. He says them to us when we are baptized and throughout our lives as we live in Christ.

Our Heavenly Father tells us we are his children, we belong to him, we are loved, and we make him happy. Isn’t that amazing!

To become Christians we need to decide to follow Christ and turn from our sins to receive forgiveness. We need baptism in water with its symbolism of cleansing, dying, and healing. We need Jesus to baptise us with the Holy Spirit to assure us that we are his children and pour his love into our lives.

Jesus identified with us in our humanity, through baptism. The Holy Spirit unites us with Jesus and enables us to share his love in these dark times.

When we feel discouraged and powerless lets remind ourselves of our baptism. God has come down to us and dwells with us, God loves us and we are his children. He baptises us with his Holy Spirit when we ask him enabling us to continue his work on earth.

Heavenly Father, at the Jordan you revealed Jesus as your Son:

may we recognize him as our Lord

and know ourselves to be your beloved children;

through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Amen