We constantly throughout our lives need the reminder that we do not live in the darkness. That we live in the light of Christ. With the threat of war constant in the Middle East, the land of The Prince of Peace, being an incredible irony; with the constant barrage of out of control politics streaming from the nation’s capital – whatever side you happen to be on; with 24-hour Cable News shoving their many crude, hate-filled, slanted opinions down your throat, trying to invade your Christian heart, whatever side you happen to be on; and, the continuous natural disasters that absorb the earth since the time of The Flood in Genesis, when Noah was the only righteous person…
We are in constant need of allowing ourselves to be reminded that we are not to live in the darkness, but that we live in the light of Christ. And whatever Tom Brady decides, we’ll get over it.
The Baptism of the Lord is a day in the history of our world where light has destroyed, again, the darkness brought on by the disobedience in the Garden of Paradise. And to think the light of this day almost didn’t happen because John the Baptist first said no.
Jesus knew what he wanted. Just like parents bringing their infant children to the Church to be baptized. They know what they want. Whether parents fully understand the theology of Baptism or not, they know this much; they want their child to live, not in the darkness of the world they grow up in , but in the light of Christ that has the power and grace to overcome the darkness their children will certainly encounter. Parents know how much they love their children, and to what degree they will protect them from the zaniness and darkness of Cable News and the like.
Jesus got it. He got the picture. He knew he wanted John to baptize him to fulfill all righteousness. The righteousness of the light of heaven conquering the darkness of H-E- Double Hockey Sticks. Hades. Way Down Below. Whatever you want to call it. There are many names for the bad stuff. But there’s one word for the today’s light: Baptism.
John the Baptist, the guy who refused no one who came to him at the River Jordan, the guy who turned away no one who approached him in good conscience, was ready to refuse Jesus the Baptism he sought. But Jesus overpowered – very gently – the uncertainty of John. It’s likely the only time in his life John the Baptist was confused. He must have been watching too much Cable News that day, whatever side he was on. We know for certain that John was on the side of doing God’s will.
As with all things with Christ, the Baptism of the Lord benefits not himself, but all of us with faith. And potentially those too without faith, to come to faith in the Son of God. Faith that the light overcomes the darkness we experience, all the way to the darkness of death. And the benefit from Jesus’ baptism is nothing less than our joy being made complete in the everlasting Paradise, not the one Adam & Eve foiled. God’s Paradise is Paradise. With all the banquets and feasts. With all that is good and beautiful. Where no Cable News is allowed.
Christ is a light for the nations for those who live in darkness. He is a light for the individual, for the community of believers, conquering the darkness we encounter, notably the darkness of sin and death. Our Lord’s Baptism happens not to defeat evil worldly forces alone. As much as we want for the goodness of God to intervene loudly and wipe it all away, our Lord’s Baptism overpowers the spiritual forces that drag us down.
Jesus fulfilling all righteousness from his Baptism is an invitation to take him by the hand and allow ourselves to be led to the better side of our humanity. Or as Lincoln said in his first Inaugural, to “the better angels of our nature.”
Parents bring their children to be baptized so their beautiful children may live and know the better angels of their nature. We love that light. We love such innocence. That they live in the fulfillment of the Lord’s righteousness. We’ve been baptized into this heavenly nature. May our lives reflect that great truth of how the Spirit once touched us in a way that has left an indelible mark on our souls.
And to think that John the Baptist tried to prevent the Lord’s Baptism because of his awareness of being unworthy to perform the act Jesus wanted. But the Lord carried John to the place where he wanted him, right there in the River. And he will also carry us to where we belong, in his light that overcomes the darkness.