...is God’s public proclamation that reveal through Luke 3:15-17-22, a one-on-one intimacy reserved for the praying Jesus…as the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. This is a special insight in Luke, for none of the other Gospels cite Jesus’ at prayer at this time.
Much lies ahead for Jesus from this point on. After living in total obscurity for his entire life, his work now begins. Jesus knew his destiny at twelve and publicly declared his intent at around age thirty. He was thoroughly aware that he was about to enter into the hardest endeavor in history. And so Jesus' baptism inaugurates his public ministry as he identifies with "all people," not just the elite or “chosen” insiders. By wading into the waters along with the broken and downtrodden and disenfranchised, he cites his compassion as he embraces the faults, failures, pains and suffering for all those who wait.
Why did Jesus allow himself to be baptized? John was preaching repentance from the way of sin, which scripturally was defined more as a way of living than as an individual action. Likewise, repentance is a redirection, a changing of lifestyle-patterns that lead us away from destructive behavior. It is a new way of perceiving life. It’s not just saying; “God, clean up my past.” It is saying “God, I am no longer my own, I am yours.” It is not just giving to God what I’ve done, it is giving to the great I AM what I was, what I am and what I hope will be.
In many ways Jesus’ baptism leads us to consider the meaning of "vocation," a word that has lost much of its resonance through repeated use in both secular and churchly worlds. In essence, Jesus ended his “hidden years” and entered into the public crossroads of his ministry. He calls us to get off the sidelines and into the fray. It’s time to get out of our stupor and into what matters. Through his baptism, Jesus took a public stand that would cost him his life, but it would give life to us. Are we ready to get off the sidelines too? (Adapted from The Journey with Jesus: Notes to Myself, Weekly essays by Dan Clendenin, posted January 7, 2007)