JOHN THE BAPTIST + BAPTISM OF JESUS + LUKE 3
Bible Background: John the Baptist appears and acts like one of the prophets. He attracts people and gets their attention! Jesus and John are cousins. John issues a call to real repentance, as in: “Turn your life towards God!”. People respond! Maybe John has tapped into a hungering for God; a hunger that people have for new beginnings in life!
Then Luke does an odd thing: he ushers John off the stage quickly, telling how King Herod had him thrown in prison. Now Jesus will take center stage! His actual baptism is briefly noted. The Holy Spirit and the voice from heaven confirm “You are my beloved Son!”
It might not have occurred to you, but the Baptism of Jesus was a controversial subject in the early church! Why? Well, if Jesus was the sinless son of God, why did he need it? Why did he do it? By reporting this event, the gospel writers answer some questions about Jesus’ true identity, and they raise others!
Reflections: 1. Luther’s Small Catechism lists these benefits of baptism: “In Baptism God forgives sin, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe what God has promised.” Which of those benefits do you appreciate the most?
2. Pastor David Lose invites us to consider the blessings of baptism: That we are accepted by God; loved by God; approved by God; and marked with the cross of Christ forever! Talk out loud about those blessings. Which means the most to you and why?
3. After being baptized, Jesus faces 40 days of testing in the wilderness. Baptism does not give us a free-pass in life. But how does baptism equip us for life in the real world? How does it equip us to be servants?
4. Practically speaking, baptism was the norm in the recent past. Nowadays, that’s less true. How can we as individuals and church-be open to people who are not baptized? How can we invite them to consider baptism for themself or their child? And how do we not act like we are part of some exclusive club because we are baptized?
5. What more would you like to know about baptism? There’s a sense in this text that baptism at the River Jordan was just the beginning. Let’s make sure that is true for us and for our children as well!
Next week we’ll read Luke 4: 14ff and Jesus’ inaugural sermon in the synagogue at Nazareth.