The Baptism of Jesus
The Baptism of Jesus
Jesus went to see John in the Jordan River valley. Jesus wanted John to baptize him. John kept trying to talk Jesus out of it. “Why do you want me to baptize you?” John told Jesus. “I need to be baptized by you!”
“Do it this way for now,” Jesus answered. “This is what God really wants.”
So John baptized Jesus. Afterwards, Jesus immediately came out of the water. The clouds parted. And he saw God’s Spirit come down and rest on him like a dove. Then, a voice from heaven spoke, “This is the Son I love!” the voice said “I really like what he’s doing!”
Based on Matthew 3:13-17
John the Baptist preached and baptized people on the Jordan River. His fame spread far and near. His message was, “Turn your life back to God. Be baptized. Get ready for the Messiah!” People flocked to see John and to be baptized by him.
Soon, Jesus went to find John so he, too, could be baptized. The baptism of Jesus was his first act in public. Like many of his other actions in public, the baptism of Jesus foreshadowed his death and resurrection. When Jesus went into the water, we see his death. When he came out of the water and received the Holy Spirit, we see his resurrection.
How can we see the death and resurrection of Jesus in his baptism? Think about the power of water. It has the power to kill by drowning. And it has the power to restore life to the thirsty. Because of the power of water, we see our death with Christ in our baptism. And we see our rising to new life with him. Like Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit in baptism and are called “children of God.”
On one level, Baptism represents the message of John. In Baptism, we turn to God. And he forgives all of our sins. But, on another level, Baptism goes beyond John’s words. In Baptism, we do not wait for the Messiah. We meet him, Jesus, the Christ. And we become one of his followers as members of the Church.
How is someone baptized? In the Latin rite, a bishop, priest, or deacon pours water over the head of the person to be baptized three times. As he pours the water, he says, “I baptize you in the name of the Father (first time he pours the water), and of the Son (second time), and of the Holy Spirit (third time).” On the night before Easter, however, the people to be baptized is immersed in water three times. They enter the baptismal font and the priest dunks them in the water three times, as he baptizes them in the name of the Trinity.
Can people be baptized more than once? Because Baptism puts someone in a special relationship with God, Father, Son, and Spirit, a person can only be baptized once. At baptism, the person receives a spiritual mark or character that says he or she belongs to God. No sin can erase it. That is why the Catholic Church recognizes the baptisms of many other churches and Christian communities.
While we receive the Holy Spirit at Baptism, we receive it in a deeper way at Confirmation. We receive the gifts of the Spirit: courage, understanding, ability to give good advice, knowledge of the faith, wisdom, a good prayer life, and awe of God. God gives us these gifts for the good of others. And as a way to strengthen the Christian community.
How is someone confirmed? Usually, the bishop in the Latin rite administers the sacrament. He prays over person. Then he anoints the forehead of the person with the Sign of the Cross as he says “Be sealed with the Holy Spirit.” Finally, he gives the new confirmed person the sign of peace. In some cases, the bishop will give the local pastor permission to confirm.
Because Confirmation deepens the relationship between God and the believer that started at Baptism, Confirmation can only be received once. Like Baptism, the believer is marked with a special spiritual character. While Baptism makes us part of the Church, Confirmation focuses on what we are to do as members. In Confirmation, the Holy Spirit gives us the power to serve others and to spread the Good News of Jesus.
Our Call as Christians
When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit rested in him. And God the Father called him “the Son that I love.” Then, God said, “I really like what he is doing.”
When we are baptized and confirmed, we receive the Holy Spirit. And God calls us his children. Then we are to go and do as Jesus did. Pray and worship God. Serve others. And spread the Good News.