The Baptism of Christ by Revd. Valentine Ibe Nzekah
Today, the Lord begins His public ministry. He decided to be baptised in order to begin. Two births are important. One is the biological birth and the other is the spiritual birth at baptism. But since Jesus is God, would He need a cleansing of baptism? Baptism, according to the penny catechism, is a sacrament that cleanses us from our original sin. Did Christ have any original sin? Since baptism makes us Christians and to be Christian is to be Christlike, did Jesus need any baptism?
In the gospel reading, John the Baptist said he has seen the son of God. Even at the baptism, a voice is heard saying, ‘this is my beloved son…’ So, since Jesus is God and was not in need of baptism, what was He trying to achieve? Was He testing John the Baptist? Was He showing how humble He is?
Matthew’s account of the baptism records that John protested but Christ told him that it was necessary to fulfil all righteousness. To understand this, we have to visit the old testament where God talked about fulfilling everyone in righteousness and purification (Malachi 3: 1-3, Malachi 4: 1-5). Christ comes to fulfil that. Even though He didn’t have to, He still insisted in fulfilling that. The message for us is that even if we are very powerful or we may be very powerful but Christ teaches us obedience to the rule of law. This is contrary to what happens In Nigeria where we do not obey court rulings. Some security personnel also do not obey traffic lights. As Christians, Jesus teaches us to obey the rule of law. We are reminded that to have power and authority is not an excuse to disobey the law.
The second reading says that whoever does what is right is pleasing to the Lord. We are challenged to realise that whatever power we have, we must do what is right and obey rules. This is how to promote justice, peace and equity. We must be obedient because obedience is a fruit of humility. Let us move from all worldly attractions and attachments and remain focused on God and may He bless us and our intentions through Christ our Lord. Amen.