A father’s approval
Right at the beginning of the Gospel of Mark, at the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus does something which is so characteristic of his whole ministry – he humbles himself to be baptized. Mark says when Jesus came out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart, and the Spirit descending like a dove into him. And God, says, right here at the beginning, even before Jesus has done any of his ministry yet, any of his healing, his teaching, his saving acts, his dying on the cross for our sins, even before any of these, after this first act of humility and obedience, God beams down on him, bursts through that wall between heaven and earth and says “you are my Son, my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.”
Do you remember your baptism? Maybe you don’t if your denomination has child baptisms. But you probably have participated in them. And the fact is, that at your baptism, whether as a baby or later, the same thing occurs. Out of the water of that baptism, God has claimed you, too, as a child loved by God, and God knows how you were made and what you were made for, the things God has in mind for you, and that God approves of you. Of course, that is a wonderful moment, but it is just the beginning.
Just as in Mark, Jesus has his whole ministry ahead of him, but this moment can sustain him, inspire him, propel him out into the wilderness and into the rest of his wonderful ministry. In the same way, your baptism is just the beginning, that moment filled with God’s love, pride and approval should shape your life, sustain you as it did Jesus. And you receive power, too. The same power that propelled Jesus into the wilderness, and which shaped his ministry, is the power afforded to you – the Holy Spirit is there for you.
I think we all when we look back on our baptism, we might be disappointed in how we are living, realize that what we are doing is not something approved by God, not the way God made us to be. But we do have this process by which we can repent, turn back to God, live in ways where God can say, I am well pleased. During our worship at Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian Churches each Sunday we do that as we gather. We confess our sins, repent, receive forgiveness, and listen to God’s word as to how we are to live. And then we can live up to our baptism, just as Jesus did as our perfect example, going out and doing what God has made us to do, to be God’s servant just as Jesus was.
REV. DALE BROWN is the pastor of Cumberland and Guinea Presbyterian churches. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.