Scripture Reading — John 1:19-34
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” — John 1:29
One rainy February I visited Israel. Fellow pilgrims and I were amazed to see places we had read about for decades: the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem. One afternoon, with countless other tourists, our bus stopped at the Jordan, the river where John baptized Jesus. The tour brochure stated that if we liked, we could get baptized in the Jordan. Having already been baptized, I knew that my baptism was sufficient (and the Jordan is certainly not magical). And on that cold, drizzly day beside the murky Jordan, everyone on our bus agreed: “No, thanks.” Other groups were being baptized, however. Dressed in white robes, they were plunged into the muddy water, and they rose soaked and mud-stained.
Imagine Jesus immersed in that river. Dale Bruner, a wise Bible commentator and missionary, calls this event “Jesus’ first miracle” because in it Jesus identifies with sinners, a fitting beginning to a life of serving needy, broken people.
We might think Jesus should appear less vulnerable and more imposing. John wanted Jesus to preach with fiery images more arresting than his own. But Jesus declined. Instead he waited wordlessly in the baptism line, entered the baptismal waters, and then was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness (Matthew 4:1). Jesus held back. He was silent. Like a lamb.
Jesus, we know your humility saves. We are tempted by power, by control—and often we want to dominate. Let us trust your baptismal gentleness. In your name we pray. Amen.