Reflections: The Baptism of Our Lord

Today’s Reading: Matthew 3:13-17

Daily Lectionary: Ezekiel 2:1-3:11; Romans 1:18-32

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” 15 But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”  (Matthew 3:13-17)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. John the Baptist was right.  According to human reason and understanding, Jesus didn’t need to be baptized.  He was perfect, being that He is God in the flesh.  On the other hand, John the Baptist, as a sinner, did need the waters of baptism and the grace that it gives.  The reality is that sinners need baptism.  According to what sinners know and understand, God’s Law condemns them as breaking the words and commandments of God.  Or, more specifically, God’s Word of Law convicts YOU of breaking His commands.  You are a poor, miserable sinner.  When you look at Jesus, it is right for sinners like John the Baptist and you to recognize that you have nothing to offer Jesus but that He has everything to offer you.

According to human logic, that might be true that Jesus doesn’t need to be baptized.  Thanks be to God that He doesn’t let you do His thinking for Him!  According to His divine wisdom, He does need to be baptized.  It is there, in those baptismal waters, that your Lord Jesus is united with you in those muddy waters.  Better yet, it is in the waters of baptism that He is washed into and that you are washed into that you and Jesus, God in the flesh, are united.  In your baptismal unification, you receive the unification with His cross and with His empty tomb.  When you are united with Jesus, His perfection and His righteousness and His peace become true of you as well.  From your perspective, He doesn’t need those baptismal waters.  On the other hand, you need those baptismal waters, and from His abundant grace, your Savior gives them to you. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Father in heaven, at the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, You proclaimed Him Your beloved Son and anointed Him with the Holy Spirit. Make all who are baptized in His name faithful in their calling as Your children and inheritors with Him of everlasting life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

-Pastor Peter W. Ill is Pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church, Millstadt, Illinois.


Audio Reflections Speaker: Patrick Sturdivant, Development and Marketing Executive at Higher Things.

Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.