Skip to comments."Why did Jesus insist on being baptized?"
Posted on 01/12/2013 2:03:54 PM PST by NYer
A Scriptural Reflection on the Readings for January 13, 2013, the Baptism of the Lord | Carl E. Olson
Is 42:1-4, 6-7 or Is 40:1-5, 9-11
Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10 or Ps 104:1b-2, 3-4, 24-25, 27-28, 29-30
Acts 10:34-38 or Or Ti 2:11-14; 3:4-7
Lk 3:15-16, 21-22
If baptism is necessary for the forgiveness of sins, why did Jesus insist on being baptized by his cousin, John? And if baptism, as St. Peter wrote, “now saves you … through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 3:21), why would the Messiah deem it appropriate, even necessary, to be baptized? What, was the point of the Lord’s baptism in the Jordan River?
These and related questions fascinated and perplexed many of the early Church fathers and theologians. The baptism of Christ, writes Fr. Kilian McDonnell, O.S.B., in his study of the topic, The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan: The Trinitarian and Cosmic Order of Salvation (The Liturgical Press, 1996), “was widely discussed in all the currents of theological reflection” in the early Church, “without doubt partly because of the problems it posed.” From this discussion emerged many helpful theological insights.
St. Justin Martyr (d. 165), one of the first great apologists, addressed the baptism in his Dialogue with Trypho. He emphasized that the Son had no need to be baptizedjust as he had no need to be born, to suffer, or diebut did so in order to reveal himself to mankind; the baptism, in other words, was the messianic manifestation, a sign for the Church first, and then the world. When Jesus came to the waters, St. Justin wrote, “He was deemed a carpenter,” but the proclamation of the Father and the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove showed him to be far more than a mere worker of wood.
In his famous work, Against Heresies, St. Irenaeus (d. c. 202) focused on the participation of those who believe in Christ in the anointing of the Savior. The connection between the baptism and anointingitself an essential Messianic conceptis already evident in the New Testament, as heard in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles: “…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power.” This same anointing, St. Irenaeus wrote, is given to those who are baptized into Christ. The Holy Spirit, having descended upon the Son, has become “accustomed in fellowship with Him to dwell in the human race, to rest with human beings, and to dwell in the workmanship of God, working the will of the Father in them, and renewing them from their old habits into the newness of Christ.”
Others delved into the mystery and meaning of the Jordan River, which was already, at the time of Christ, the site of many key events in the history of Israel. St. Hippolytus (d. c. 236) referred to “the Grand Jordan”; Origen (d. 254) wrote that just as “no one is good, except the one only God, the Father,” likewise “no river is good except the Jordan.” St. Gregory of Nyssa (d. c. 394), in his treatise, On the Baptism of Jesus, wrote, “For Jordan alone of rivers, receiving in itself the first-fruits of sanctification and benediction, conveyed in its channel to the whole world, as it were from some fount in the type afforded by itself, the grace of Baptism.” Just as Joshua had entered the Promised Land by crossing the Jordan, Jesus opened the way to heaven by entering and dividing the same waters.
St. Ephrem (d. 373) wrote a beautiful hymn in which he connected the baptism of Jesus with the womb of Mary and the sacrament of the Eucharist: “See, Fire and Spirit in the womb that bore you! See, Fire and Spirit in the river where you were baptized! Fire and Spirit in our Baptism; in the Bread and the Cup, Fire and Holy Spirit!” Christ, the Light of the World, dwelt first in the womb of the Virginwho was thus “baptized” by her Sonand then in the womb of the Jordan; he emerged from both as the Incarnate Word, the Savior of mankind. Those who are baptized thus become the children of Mary and partakers of the body, blood, soul, and divinity of her Son.
In this icon of the Baptism, Christ receives baptism at the hands of John the Baptist, the last of the prophets of the old Covenant. Here, the Old and New Covenants meet in the water of the Jordan- the old baptism for repentance of sins, and the lasting baptismal rebirth of water and the spirit, as brought by Jesus in the New Covenant (Lk 3:16). For this reason, the bottom of this icon depicts symbols of the initiation Sacraments of the Christian Church- Baptism, Chrismation and the Eucharist. On either side are representations of confirmation of the Holy Spirit in purifying water: the Spirit of God hovering over the waters in creation (Ge 1:2), and the traditional "Blessing of the Waters" with the Cross in the Epiphany liturgy. In this icon of the Baptism, Christ is stripped of His eternal robe of glory and naked, is robed in the waters of the Jordan which itself shines forth with the beams of His glory and light. Here, He is clothed in our humanity, that we, in our baptism, might be clothed in His eternity. The symbol of the sun and the moon represent the cosmic light that Christ brings on his Feast of Epiphany.
From this amatuer theology-dabbler’s point of view, the depiction of the baptism was not primarily intended as literal history but instead as a depiction of the defining moment in a person’s turn toward God.
Jesus and His family were traditional practicing Jews. The babtism was one of many new traditions given to us by Jesus, it is an adaptation of the Jewish Micvah. Catholics and Jews have a lot of beautiful traditions and ceremonies, that some just don’t seem to understand. Despite the fact that Jesus clearly respected Jewish traditions, without really “having to”, some people feel entitled to disrespect ancient customs and traditions or simply discard them as unnessecary. I think they are beautiful.
Don’t discount that it was also a cultural norm of the time. Ritual baths (the mikveh), washing of the feet, etc, were traditions. The Temple had fountains where you would wash your hands and feet and the priests walked through a pool of water before entering the temple.
There were jars of water for purification of the guests at the wedding at Cana, also. Jesus had these jars filled with water and then turned them into wine.
That's a given. The deeper question remains ... since Jesus is the Son of God, what purpose was served by practicing these rituals.
Glad you defined yourself as amateur. Theologians have thought this through for 2000 years; that makes you a newbie on the scene. You realize, of course, that by stepping into the Jordan River, Jesus consecrated all the waters.
“Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses, [through] the heap of great waters.”
Awesome images in this Sunday’s Gospel reading. Our glorious Lord showing us the way in yet another area.
Christ's baptism was an act of humility and submission not only to God but to man. As was his crucifixion. His earthly baptism and subsequent reception of the Holy Spirit gave him total power over Satan on earth, and his crucifixion and resurrection gave him total power over Satan period. Without these two acts of humility and denial of his earthly flesh, Christ could not have been the sacrificial lamb for mankind's sins. It was by submitting to God and to man (in baptism and crucifixion) that all power was taken away from Satan to condemn those who put their faith in Christ.
“14 But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
15 And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.”
Through baptism, it’s clear who His Father is. It’s a proclamation to the world on Who His being is one with. It gives us a ritual to perform to proclaim the same for the lives and souls of ourselves and our children.
It’s beautiful. Like our Lord and Savior, we are dedicated to be the children of God. Amen!
Baptism is simply an identification of one thing with another coincident with a change in that identification.
When we are baptized, we are identified as being one with God the Holy Spirit, having a new man reborn in us.
When our Lord Christ Jesus was baptized, He was manifest as being identified as one with God’s Plan fulfilling the Hypostatic Union and upon his rise from the river, a foreshadowing of His Resurrection.
When I’m praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, and am saying the first Decade, I contemplate Jesus’s Baptism. I’ve thought that Jesus was presenting a model of what He wanted of us. He wanted us to be cleansed of sin, and be ready to follow Him.
Insurance of their continuation?
He's a whole heckuva lot better to us than we deserve.
I really like the Luminous Mysteries, they are humbling and heartening at the same time!
Yah'shua performed a Mikveh
Look at the "baptism" in it's first century Jewish context. shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
Yah'shua performed a Mikveh
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