Through baptism by John, Jesus humbly accepted the commission to be God’s suffering servant for us and showed us the way to humility and how to take on his very character.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:13-17)
Jesus, the sinless One, submitted himself to John’s baptism of repentance, and by doing so, accepted his mission as God’s suffering servant on behalf of all sinful men and women. By submitting humbly, Jesus gave us a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of his bloody death on the cross, where out of love he gave his life for the remission of our sins (Mark 10:38, 45).
Because Jesus humbled himself so completely, his Father proclaimed how delighted he was in him. The Holy Spirit, too, was present, anointing Jesus for the work he was about to begin. At his baptism, Jesus became the source of the Spirit for all who would believe in him. The heavens were opened, the Spirit fell, and a new creation was inaugurated.
If we want to experience the power and grace of this new creation in our lives, we must follow Jesus’ example. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, a fourth-century Church Father, gives us this advice: “Let us be buried with Christ by baptism, in order to rise with him. Let us go down with him in order to be raised with him. Let us rise with him in order to be glorified with him.” If we want to experience the transformation that St. Gregory wrote about, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to forge the same humility in our hearts that Jesus showed at his baptism.
Jesus is ever ready to renew us in his Spirit and to anoint us for our mission. He wants to make us “light” and “salt” to those around us (Matthew 5:13, 14). He wants his love and truth to shine through us so that others will be touched by his goodness. Ask the Lord to fill you with his Holy Spirit so that you may radiate the joy of the gospel to those around you. As you do, heaven will open for you as well.
We who have been baptized into Christ have received the same Spirit as Jesus. We too can hear the Father say of us, “This is my beloved.” Imagine yourself in the Jordan River being baptized with Jesus. Ask the Holy Spirit to manifest his power in you in a fresh way.
Jesus humbled himself by submitting to John’s baptism of repentance. Humility in our own lives helps us to better love and serve the Lord. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you if there is a specific area in your life where you need to grow in humility.
Baptized into Christ’s life and death, we can take on the character, and even the very heart, of Jesus. Ask the Lord to give you the faith to believe this truth. Then ask him to open your heart and transform you into his image and to fill you with his Holy Spirit, so that you would find joy in seeking to please him, just as he found joy in seeking to please his Father.
—selection from A Year of Celebration: Experiencing God through the Feast Days of the Church. The Word Among Us Press, 2001.