Sunday, January 10, 2016

Filled With Expectation

By Diane Bayne

“The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.  John answered them all, saying, ‘I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming.  I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.’”  (Luke 3:15-16)

Recently, while watching a movie on the life of Christ, I was struck by the many times the apostles wrestled with the idea of just who Jesus was.  Was he a teacher?  A rabbi?  A prophet?  In the Old Testament we are told in various places that God will send His people a shepherd, a king and a ruler. But Jesus is all this and more–he is divine and in this gospel reading we see that John was given a glimpse of the divinity of Jesus, and he was moved to give public testimony to this insight of his.  This testimony of John’s must have blown the minds of all who heard it! 

“After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” Luke 3:21-22.

After some searching, I found a dramatic explication of this text in The Life Application Study Bible:  “The baptism recorded here was the first public declaration of Jesus’ ministry.  Instead of going to Jerusalem and identifying with the established religious leaders, Jesus went to a river and identified himself with those who were repenting of sin.  When Jesus, at age 12, visited the Temple, he understood his mission (Luke 2:49).  Eighteen years later at his baptism, he began carrying it out.  And as Jesus prayed, God spoke, and confirmed his decision to act.  God was breaking into human history.”

What conclusions can we draw about God’s love for us from the above two biblical events?  In the second reading in today’s Liturgy, the Epistle to Titus, Paul beautifully summarizes what God has done for us:  “When the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit which he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior.” Titus 3:4-7.

All that remains for us to do now is to decide what return we can possibly make to the Lord for all the love and mercy He has shown us--and continues to show us-- each and every day of our lives. 

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