Sunday January 12th, 2020 Then Baptism of the Lord (Cycle A)
The tie in between today’s readings: Contrasts
Psalm 29:1-11, Isaiah 42:1-7, Acts 10:34-38, Matthew 3:13-17
If you’ve ever been caught in a fierce thunderstorm or tornado, it’s an experience you’ll never forget. You scramble for shelter as the wind, rain, and lightening confront you. There, you hope and pray for it to finally roar by. Our reading in Psalm 29: 1-11 describes the glory and strength of God in these terms. Merely the voice of the Almighty is a storm unleashed. Power thunders from just a word. Our God is majestic, awesome, and…frightening. He is the King that dispenses holy justice and retribution for sin. Our transgressions are laid bare before His all-seeing eyes. The Lord has every right and ability to ZAP us at any time, but He waits. God the King, the hard and wrathful Judge that many people see in the Old Testament, wants to show us mercy and grace…and He has a plan.
He is called, My Servant, in the opening verses of our reading today in Isaiah 42:1-7. Full of the Holy Spirit, the prophet forecasts that He will be meek and compassionate. Without judgement, He will establish justice throughout the nations. He will be the eye-opener, the darkness-dispeller, and the captive-free-er. Obedient in all things, nothing will deter Him from His mission. Men and women throughout the centuries hoped and prayed for His arrival. Then, when the time was right, He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.
Ready to fulfill all righteousness, Jesus wades into the Jordan and waits His turn in line to be baptized. The events that unfold are told to us in today’s gospel in Matthew 3:13-17. John sees Him and protests, confessing his own need to be baptized by Jesus. Speaking words of wisdom, the Lord says, “Let it be.” John obeys. A heavenly spectacle of overwhelming contrasts opens before the crowd. There in the water, the sinless Lord of Glory submits and identifies with His sinful creature, the Baptizer, and by extension the whole of a corrupt humanity. God the Father, whose indignation with trespasses knows no bounds, proclaims His pleasure in His beloved Son in this action. Although Jesus is still God, the Holy Spirit descends and anoints the Word made flesh with power. Now begins His push to the cross, where in three more years, the Father will forsake the Son as He becomes sin for us so that we may become the righteousness of God by faith in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Our reading in Acts 10:34-38 gives us the aftermath of Jesus’ baptism. Verse 38 tells us that, after He was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, Jesus went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil. It began the offensive stage by God in operation “Thy Kingdom Come,” which ended in triumph on Easter Sunday some three years later. The God, who is the Servant in Isaiah 42 and who reveals His Trinity in Matthew 3 is the same God whose voice shakes the earth in Psalm 29. This God commands everyone to believe in His Son for forgiveness of sins. Don’t trifle with the gospel message of salvation. If you hear God’s voice today, don’t harden your heart. Listen to Him. Storms a coming.