Baptized in the Spirit
As we look forward to Easter we are focusing on the humanity of Jesus with the intent of enhancing our understanding of the human challenges Jesus faced and the message He preached of Love and compassion. Jesus was not a super-human; He shared the same humanity each of us is blessed with. This was God’s plan; that we would be able to identify with Jesus in every aspect of His life, in particular to truly appreciate deeply the intensity of His ultimate extreme sacrifice for our redemption. We recognize this week an event of major significance in His life . . . His baptism in the Jordan River.
As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,
“Behold, I send my messenger before your face who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’”.
John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. (Mark 1:2-9)
The baptism of Jesus is a somewhat of an understated historic event even though it is intrinsic to our understanding the mystery of His dual divine-human nature. It was a significant event because on the one hand it heralded the beginning of Jesus’ mission, and on the other, the important references to God the Son and to the Holy Spirit confirmed the divinity of Jesus in the context of the Trinity. The recounting of Jesus’ baptism in the gospels underscores our understanding of how our own baptism introduced us into new life in the Spirit. It was a completion of the mystery of the Trinity.
And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16)
The Divine Circle was completed: God became man in Jesus . . . Jesus was baptized in the Holy Spirit . . . and He was revealed as true God and true man. This theological realty of three-in-one, this Divine circular relationship that draws all humanity into union with God, is at the core of our Faith. It is the energy source that drives our spiritual lives, something we will only fully understand in the fullness of time when the veil is lifted.
For now we develop our awareness that Jesus progressed through all the normal stages of human life from birth, to early development, to His baptism, to struggling to understand His unique nature, to engaging in His mission, to facing and rejecting the temptations of Satan, to preaching God’s Love, to enduring His passion, to willfully accepting God’s will to the point of excruciating pain and sacrifice in death . . . and finally to His glorious Resurrection, the ultimate accomplishment of God’s plan for our redemption.
In identifying with the human side of all of this we can better understand and recognize how God’s plan has indeed offered all humanity the promise of eternal Life.