Context: Just prior to Jesus being baptized, Saint John the Baptist is presented to us in Matthew’s Gospel as follows. He is:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.” (Matthew 3:3, RSV-CE)
John was living a humble life in the wilderness. People were coming to him in hopes that he was the Messiah. But in his humility, John made it clear that he was not even worthy to untie the sandal straps of the Messiah to come.
Many Pharisees and Sadducees also came to him to listen to him, but they came out of curiosity, not out of a sincere desire to hear his prophetic message. Thus, John sharply rebuked them for their lack of openness to the voice of God.
Shortly after rebuking the Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus appeared before John in the wilderness. The Scripture passage below presents this scene and offers rich spiritual food for contemplation. First, read the Scripture passage in its entirety a few times and then use the reflection section to ponder each line prayerfully.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 3:13–17
Reflection: John said, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Pause and use your imagination to be present to this scene. Try to imagine this encounter from the perspective of a bystander. Watch as Jesus walked up to John, Listen to his reaction and take time to gaze solely upon John. Say a prayer that God helps you to see this scene with His eyes and mind.
Jesus’s response: “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” This is a mysterious statement. Again, ponder this statement for a while in silence, asking God to help you understand His words.
After Jesus entered the waters and then emerged, three things happened. Prayerfully take time with each one:
- “…the heavens were opened…”
- The Spirit of God descended “like a dove…”
- The Voice of the Father spoke: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus did not need to be baptized, He is God. His baptism was a transitional moment by which the people whom John the Baptist had prepared were pointed to Jesus. The manifestation of the Holy Spirit and the Voice of the Father were clear signs by which the divinity of Jesus was made known. His baptism was a manifestation of Who He was. He was a member of the Most Holy Trinity. John had prepared the people for His ministry, and now the time for His earthly ministry had begun.
Spend time allowing this scene to speak to you, telling you that the time has come for Jesus to become more manifest to you. His public ministry (which will be presented in the meditations that follow) must start anew in your life. Reflect upon that fact and say a prayer by which you commit yourself to all that Jesus wishes to say to you in the weeks ahead.
- Baptism of the Lord
- Two Standards
- Three Classes of Men
- Calling of Apostles
- Wedding at Cana
- Cleansing the Temple
- Sermon on the Mount
- Calming the Storm
- Walking on Water
- The Apostles were Sent to Preach
- Conversion of Mary Magdalene
- How Christ Fed the Five Thousand
- Transfiguration of Christ
- Resurrection of Lazarus
- Supper in Bethany
- Three Ways of Humility