JOHN THE BAPTIST + BAPTISM OF JESUS MATTHEW 3:1-17
Bible Background: John the Baptist appears and acts like one of the prophets. He attracts people and scares them away at the same time. John issues a call to serious repentance. People respond! Maybe John has tapped into a hungering for God; a hunger that people have for new beginnings in life!
While John seems very different from us; Jesus seems very much like us in this scene…coming to be baptized; seeking to do the thing that is good and right. And we want to be like him, hearing the announcement that we too are God’s beloved children!
Reflections: 1. In the gospels, Baptism is where we meet the grown up Jesus, and this event marks the beginning of his public ministry. The baptism accounts in Matthew, Mark, Luke differ slightly, but each shows Jesus being identified as “God’s beloved Son”, with the Spirit descending on Jesus.
2. 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?
3. 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?
4. Right after his baptism, 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?
5. 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? What are ways that might invite them to consider baptism for themselves or their child? And how do we not act like we are part of some exclusive club because we are baptized?
6. 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 as well!