First a couple of questions concerning the Baptism of Jesus.
First: Why did Jesus, the sinless Son of God, receive the “baptism of repentance” meant for sinners?
Second: Why did Jesus wait for thirty years to begin his public ministry?
In answer to the first question, according to the Gospel to the Hebrews, one of the Gospels which was not chosen to be included in the New Testament, Jesus received the baptism of John to please his mother and his relatives.
The answer to the second question is a bit more complicated, but simply stated, the time wasn’t right. Jesus wasn’t ready. Looking at what happened shortly after he was baptized by John, it is obvious that it marked the beginning of Jesus’ public life. Jesus might have been waiting for the opportune time to begin, a signal of approval from God. We know very little about the first 30 years of Jesus life but whatever it was, it prepared him well for the ministry God called him to, that is, to be the Messiah, the major part of which was not what the Jews expected, that is, overthrowing the Romans but rather was to spread the Good News. The Good News was and is, that God is a loving God who wants all people to join him in his kingdom here on earth and forever in the kingdom of heaven, and Jesus was to show them how to accomplish that by being and living as the Suffering Servant as defined by the Isaiah, suffering like the rest of the poor people of his time.
It is believed that Jesus was a disciple of John the Baptist, so it must have been very upsetting for Jesus to hear that John, a humble man, who Jesus called “more than a prophet”, had been imprisoned for his message of repentance. Rather than letting fear paralyze him, Jesus picked up where his forerunner had left off. The tone of Jesus teaching was not one of Fire and Brimstone as John’s likely was, but was as described in today’s reading from Isaiah, that is, it didn’t include shouting and yelling but was presented with authority thereby being very appealing. As a result, people longed to listen to him as he presented what he knew to be God’s truths.
The identity and mission of Jesus reminds us of our identity and mission and how similar they are. First it reminds us that by Baptism we are adopted sons and daughters of God just as Jesus is the Son of God. We are brothers and sisters of Jesus, members of his Church, heirs of Heaven and Temples of the Holy Spirit.
Our mission like Jesus’ includes accepting the good and bad experiences of life as gifts from a loving God in order that we might grow in intimacy with God and be co-creators with God in building the Kingdom of God on earth, a kingdom of compassion, Justice, forgiveness and love. To be the salt of the earth and light of the world.
Our mission as well includes experiencing the presence of God within us and living as children of God in thought word and deed so that God may say to each of us just as he said to Jesus “You are my beloved son and daughter with whom I am well pleased”