Monday Devotional: January 2, 2023
Bible Reading: Matthew 3:13-17 (CEB)
13 At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River so that John would baptize him. 14 John tried to stop him and said, “I need to be baptized by you, yet you come to me?” 15 Jesus answered, “Allow me to be baptized now. This is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.” So John agreed to baptize Jesus. 16 When Jesus was baptized, he immediately came up out of the water. Heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on him. 17 A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.”
I do not like the water. I do not swim. I remember taking swimming lessons when I was young and I did not enjoy going underwater. I always felt disoriented when I came up into the air, probably because I was just looking for how to get out of the pool. My son, who did much better with his swimming lessons, likes going under the water and popping back up. He is comfortable in the water and enjoys the change in perspective between water and air.
When Jesus is baptized and comes out of the water, he doesn’t just come back into the air — he sees the Spirit of God descending on him and hears a voice from heaven. Jesus reminds us in this text that the transforming impact of baptism should start in us. Baptism is not simply a rite of passage or life insurance for salvation. Baptism should help us to see with new eyes and hear with new ears the working of the Spirit.
Many reading this text were baptized as babies and will not remember that day. When those baptized as babies later confirm their baptism, this is a confession of living into seeing things differently. The same is true for those baptized as children or adults.
Baptism orients us to see and live differently. We cheapen baptism when we do not open ourselves to its transforming power. Although baptism is typically performed on an individual, all of us who are part of the Christian community commit to journeying with newly baptized people to help them experience and see the Spirit. We also are having our eyes opened to see things differently on this journey.
Take a minute to ask yourself whether you are still living into your baptism or are in a season of disorientation.
Holy God, help us to live into our baptism and help others to do the same. Amen.
By F. Douglas Powe Jr., The Upper Room Disciplines 2023, page 18.