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Jesus’ Baptism

Today we are at the beginning of Jesus ministry – which starts with his baptism by his cousin John. John has come to the Jewish people preaching repentance, demanding that they turn back to God, that’s what the word repentance means, to turn back or to change direction. Now John doesn’t mince his words and is not afraid to tell the people, particularly the leaders, what they are doing is wrong. He doesn’t let them off the hook by claiming that Abraham is their ancestor therefore everything is ok, he replies that God can raise up children of Abraham from the stones if God so wants. John the Baptist is not one to pull punches. In this passage from Luke you could describe his ‘sermon’ to the crowds as one filled with fire and brimstone. And I would guess he is doing this to grab the attention of his listeners. Sometimes you have to shock someone a little to make them hear you. It doesn’t always work out well, and we know that John was imprisoned by King Herod because the King did not like what John was saying about him. The question that comes from the crowd is “What then should we do?” A cry in response to his call for repentance, some of them were listening. John gives them some really easy answers. Share your possessions with those who have none, do not collect more money than are you supposed to, do not extort money through threats or false accusations, be satisfied with what you have. There are some really easy answers here that shouldn’t be too great a strain to achieve. The people were being challenged to live well and practice respect, justice and compassion. And then at the end of this passage comes the event that is the signal for the ministry of Jesus to begin, but if we’re not careful we could almost miss it. Many people were baptised, and we are told that Jesus was also baptised but the difference here was the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus and the voice from heaven saying, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” When we become part of the people of God, we call ourselves children of God. As a child of God, we are also told that we are beloved of God and that God is pleased with us, God treasures and loves us. We are God’s people in this place at this time. Yeap, we may not always get it right, we will certainly not always do as we should - sharing our possessions, worshiping God instead of money, being truthful or satisfied with what we have - but we have the opportunity of returning back to God, to change our direction and truly live into the role of being God’s people. I believe this last word from God is also a word for us. “You are my people in all you do.” This again is God with us, in all that we do. Jay Robinson

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