Why did Jesus have to be baptized? After all, baptism is about the forgiveness of sins so why did the sinless Jesus have to be baptized? First of all, Jesus did not have to be baptized, he chose to be baptized. His baptism was an act of immersion into our lives, an act of involvement. It serves as a beautiful statement that he is with us in our humanity. When Jesus walked into that line of humanity he walked into our lives declaring his desire to be with us on our journey of life.
On the day of his baptism, Jesus stepped into a line of sinners. He walked right up and involved himself in all the sins and heartbreak of the world. Jesus knew human nature. He knew what we are capable of doing to each other, how we could hurt and violate each other. He knew our capacity to sin. His baptism was an action that said, “I will confront that sin.” Knowing well that this confrontation would eventually lead to the cross, he did not isolate himself.
That line of sinners was also a line of hope. Jesus knew that the people there were not their sins. They, like us, were people created in the image of God. Jesus stood in that line of baptism to begin his ministry of helping us to see our beauty and our goodness which so often gets hidden and covered up by our sin. Somebody once said that when we sin, we are not being ourselves. Our true selves are our best selves, the good people God created us to be. When Jesus was baptized, he identified with our worst so that we could come to see our best.
For us who are baptized, Jesus’ invitation is to identify with our goodness rather than our sinfulness. Immersing himself into our lives, Jesus calls us to immerse ourselves into each other’s lives in order to let our goodness shine. Rather than isolating ourselves, we are to confront our sin and the sin of the world. We are to let the grace of Jesus keep us from doing wrong. Strengthened by his grace our task is to do something about the hurt and violence that takes place in the world.
As those baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, how wonderful to be involved in the work of transforming the world with God’s love!