“It’s A Pleasure”
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
This morning we come together and we recognize and celebrate the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist.
It’s a very special moment. Jesus comes to John on the banks of the Jordan River and asks to be baptized. John responds that he is unworthy of such a task. How can he offer a cleansing for one who has not sinned?
John has been preaching the need for baptism as preparation for the coming Messiah. We learn in the Gospel of Mark that John preached baptism as repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
The question is, why then did Jesus need to be baptized?
If Jesus is without sin, then why does he need to be baptized by John, who tells us baptism is a cleansing ritual for those who have sinned as a way to receive the Holy Spirit?
Jesus has come to show us the way. Jesus has come to teach us how to become his disciples and how to come into close relationship with God. One of those rituals we undertake is baptism. So Jesus goes through the same ritual. In fact, his request of John to be baptized is the reason we all undergo baptism today.
There is also a second reason or purpose for Jesus to be baptized. He is ready to begin his public ministry, so he undergoes a public act to signal this new beginning.
And what a public act it is! As Jesus comes out of the water the Spirit of God can visibly be seen coming down upon him, and we hear the voice of God say, “You are my son, the Beloved. With you I am well pleased.”
Jesus’ baptism is the first public proclamation of who he is, the Son of God. John’s ministry and teaching is validated and Jesus moves on to start his ministry and his own teaching.
The Saviour has come as promised.
It’s interesting to see how people around the world seek their own saviour. Everyone is out looking for the right house, car, or even spouse so their life will be perfect. They look for the winning lottery ticket so they can have all they ever wanted and their life will be complete. They push their kids to play sports so they can make it to the pros to be rich and famous.
How does this often end up? The kids get exhausted, tired and lose interest because the fun has been sucked out of something they once loved.
People, once they have everything realize they still don’t have it all but cannot find anything else to buy to fill the void.
Look at the celebrities who make millions per movie or sports season. In the last year what have we seen? The so called, “greatest athlete in the world”, cheated on his wife with untold number of women. The king of late night television admits to having an affair with a staff member. Young adults at the peak of their career, dead due to drug, alcohol and other abuses to their bodies.
Yet the search for meaning, purpose and fulfillment continues all around us.
The theme of a saviour can be found in a lot of our entertainment as well. Movies are full of this type of imagery.
In the movie The Lion King, the young lion cub, Simba, heir to the throne of the plains runs away from it all after he is tricked into thinking he killed his father. Once he is gone, his evil uncle, Scar, takes over and ruins the once beautiful and lush prideland. Once Simba is found, he encounters the wise baboon, Rafiki, who shows him he is the one to bring the prideland back to what it once was. Rafiki shows Simba his great father lives on in him, and he is the true king.
In the movie The Matrix, the world is taken over by machines who use humans as their source of energy. We learn of an underground society who are determined to break this cycle, and are searching for the one who will save them from their oppressors. The character Neo is the one who will save them, Morpheus is sure of it.
Morpheus comes across as the John the Baptist figure in this movie, helping people realize Neo is the chosen one. Morpheus has an encounter with Neo, giving Neo the option of choosing to join with him against the machines.
Morpheus tells Neo that he is a slave, born into bondage, a prison he cannot smell or taste or touch. He offers Neo two pills. Take the blue pill and he will wake up in his bed and believe whatever he wants to believe. If he takes the red pill he will see just how deep this bondage, this prison goes. From here, Neo sees the world for what it is, he sees the truth, and begins his mission to help set the world free from its oppressors.
The movie Star Wars works in the same way. A young Luke Skywalker is discovered and labelled as the great hope for the Jedi. Young Luke is seen as having great power within him and they try to mould him into using his powers at their greatest potential to save the universe from the evil Darth Vader and his imperial forces.
Our culture is full of the hero mentality. We seek people to pull us out of the holes we have dug ourselves into.
Barack Obama, during his presidential campaigns had huge followings of people, drawn to him as the next great president, tagged as the man to lead the world to a better place.
Now one year into office, we realize that even a great leader with huge support cannot change the minds of people who are stuck in their old ways. People who hold the purse strings, the ones who hold the real power in the world.
Sound familiar at all?
Jesus, at his baptism, was labelled by God as His son, the one He promised long ago through the prophets. A son He is very pleased with.
Yet Jesus, as he travelled encountered leaders who were more concerned with holding onto their positions of power instead of being transformed and directed in the right direction. Jesus still made a difference in many people’s lives, and still does so today through the power of the same Holy Spirit which descended on him at his baptism.
People who continue to seek for wealth and prosperity are missing the point. When they get what they are looking for, what happens next? The keep looking for more. The look for more money… more stuff… more love. Everything they had banked their happiness and future on did not provide the desired effect. Sure they love the easy life, but they also notice there is something missing.
The news, like I already mentioned is full of people who are still looking, despite having reached the pinnacle of what we are told we need to live like.
The physical cannot meet the needs of the spiritual. We are here to meet our spiritual needs, the needs of our soul. Jesus tells us to for-go our physical needs, the desire for riches, and make our spiritual needs our priority. Needs that can only be met through a relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
Through our baptisms, we have been recognized by God as His children. We are part of the same ministry which began on the banks of the Jordan River. We continue to work through the power of the Holy Spirit to serve in the name of Jesus Christ.
We are children with whom God is well pleased.